Butser Hill

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Butser Hill
Butser Hill.jpg
Butser Hill from the bridleway
Range: South Downs
Summit: 889 feet SU716203
50°58’40"N, 0°58’53"W

Butser Hill is a chalk hill in Hampshire, on the long ridge of the South Downs. It is within the borders of the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, about three miles south of the historic market town of Petersfield.

This is the highest point in the South Downs, and one of the highest points in Hampshire.

The name 'Butser' comes from the Old English Bryttes Ora meaning 'Briht's slope'; ora is frequently used in Old English for a flat topped hill or for a steep slope,[1] which well describe this hill.

The flat summit is surrounded by a number of spurs.[2] Iron Age ditches and banks divide the spurs from the summit although the purpose of these earthworks is unclear.[2]

There are aerial masts on the hill.[3]

Flora, fauna and conservation

The hill was bought by the council in 1966, and now is grazing land.[2] Most of the park, including Butser Hill, is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and since 1998 as a National Nature Reserve. The SSSI designation covers 1 square mile (2 km²), which is large when set against comparative sites, and is given to protect the second largest area of calcareous grassland in Hampshire.

The hill bears a rich variety of flora]] and [[fauna and is reckoned in the top twenty chalk grassland sites in mainland Hampshire for its rich vascular flora, and the richest in terms of its bryophyte (125 species) and lichen (82 species) flora. As well as this, over 30 species of butterfly have been recorded, including populations of Duke of Burgundy and the Silver-spotted Skipper, making the area an important conservation area for many butterfly species.

A view from the summit


Butser Hill has also hosted entertainment events. Since 2007 it has hosted butserfest, and has hosted various country fairs in the past.


A spur of Butser Hill known as Little Butser was the original home of the Butser Ancient Farm experimental archaeology project.[2]

In Only Fools and Horses, the hang glider scene in Episode no. 35 'Tea for Three' was filmed on the western slopes of Butser Hill.

Butser Hill was a primary hang-gliding site from the early-1970s until its closure to the sport in February 2001.


  1. Hampshire Place Names by Richard Coates Ensign Publications 1993 page 46
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Reynolds, Peter J (1979). Iron-Age farm The Butser Experiment. British Museum Publications Limited. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0-7141-8014-9. 
  3. SOLENT Airspace guide summer 2008