Caesar's Camp, Berkshire

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Bank and ditch at Caesar's Camp

Caesar's Camp is a large Iron Age hill fort found buried within the woods in western Berkshire. It is around 2,400 years old, and not connected to Caesar at all but is one of several locations which have had his name attached to them.

The fort is located just in Crowthorne parish to the south of Bracknell. It falls within the Windsor Forest and is well wooded, although parts of the fort have now been cleared of some trees. The area is managed by the Forestry Commission (but owned by Crown Estate), and is open and accessible to the public. The hillfort covers an area of about seventeen acres and is surrounded by a mile-long ditch, making it one of the largest in the southern counties of Britain.[1]


Caesar's Camp is thought to have been established around 500–300BC. It is the only hill fort of its type that has been identified in east Berkshire.[2]

Because the area had a thick bed of sandstone beneath the top layers of soil, it was likely not suitable for farming – the community at Caesar's Camp was therefore dependent on the produce of neighbouring settlements. Caesar's Camp was therefore most likely used as an assembly point and a marketplace. The huge outer walls of the fort and its mile-long dump rampart also suggest that it was used as a safe haven in case of attack.

Multivallate defences at Caesar's Camp

Caesar's Camp appears to have fallen under the rule of Cunobelin, king of the Catuvellauni tribe in the first century AD from a coin discovered in the interior.[2] Soon after his time, the Romans invaded Britain and after this time, there is no evidence that Caesar's Camp continued to exist as an inhabited community.

A road from the south entrance of the camp was later built, connecting it to the Devil's Highway. There is a small Roman settlement about halfway along this road, known as Wickham Bushes, which has yielded pottery and other Roman artefacts. The main Roman road connected Londinium with Calleva Atrebatum, the tribal capital of the Atrebates tribe about ten miles to the west in Hampshire.

A redoubt roughly 130 feet across in the fort is thought to be part of a defence line built in 1792 in preparation for a threatened French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars.[1]


Scots pines on bank at Caesar's Camp
Heather cladding the upper rampart

The layout consists of a number of steep banks and ditches in the shape of an oak leaf, enclosing a large flat area of a settlement. The main entrance is at its northern end (at the tip of the leaf) and is very well defended with multiple banks and a sinuous entrance road. The banks to the side of the entrance are very steep, guiding any entrants along the way.[3] It is north of the Roman road known as the Devil's Highway which connected Londinium to Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester). It is within the Crowthorne Woods part of Swinley Forest crown plantation and is located off Nine Mile Ride approximately three-quarters of a mile from the Look Out visitor centre.

Much of the fort is covered by mature broadleaf and coniferous trees, although some of the spruce plantation on the southern part of the fort has been cleared, and the ground reverted to heathland and scrub. On clear days, central Bracknell and Crowthorne are visible from its highest points.

The camp falls within the 'Broadmoor to Bagshot Woods and Heaths Site of Special Scientific Interest', and forms part of the northern edge of the site. The zone protects numerous rare birds such as the woodlark and nightjar, as well as its diverse insect life and fauna.

The camp has suffered significant erosion, both natural and man-made. Efforts have been made by the local council to try to restore some of the natural parts because as well as being a historic site it is also home to a number of wildlife species.

A geophysical survey of five acres of the site was undertaken in 1995 before the restoration work began. The survey found some evidence for sustained occupation and structures; the survey did find a ditch type anomaly within the western ramparts and a scatter of pit type anomalies.[4]

1978 People's Free Festival

The site was reoccupied between 29 August and 8 September 1978, when it became the location of the last of the Windsor Free Festivals in 1978, after the forced removal of those attempting to attend the People's Free Festival, in Windsor Great Park, by police.[5]

Outside links

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