Old Winchester Hill

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Old Winchester Hill
Old Winchester Hill hill fort.jpg
Iron Age hillfort viewed from the east
Summit: 646 feet SU642208
50°58’52"N, 1°5’17"W

Old Winchester Hill is a hill in the heart of Hampshire which is topped with an Iron Age hill fort. The fort is a scheduled monument.[1]

The summit of the hill reaches 646 feet above sea level.

Old Winchester Hill

On the hill, 164 acres have been designated a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.[2] This area id also a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I,[3] and a national nature reserve.[4]


Despite its name the hill is around eleven miles from Winchester; it is however part of the 'Winchester-East Meon Anticline. It lies to the east of Corhampton on the eastern side of the Meon Valley, opposite Beacon Hill.

The South Downs Way and Monarch's Way long distance footpaths cross. About a mile to the north-east is another prominent hill, Henwood Down (659 feet), above the village of East Meon.

In March 2009, the hill became part of the South Downs National Park.


Three of the barrows outside the western entrance
3D view of the digital terrain model

On the summit of the hill is an Iron Age hill fort. Within the hill fort can also be found Bronze Age barrows. Which date from between 4500 and 3500 BC whilst the fort itself is believed to be Iron Age in origin. It was probably built in the Early or early-Middle Iron Age (600-300 BC) and fell out of use around the beginning of the Late Iron Age (150-100 BC), as this is the general pattern for hillforts in the southeast of England. More modern archaeology dates from Second World War when the Army used the hill as a mortar testing range. Some unexploded Ordnance may still remain in 'fenced-off' sections of the hill however grazing hill-sheep access all areas so danger to the casual walker is likely to be low.[5]


The hill is the Site of Special Scientific Interest and a national nature reserve managed by Natural England. This unimproved chalk downland is home to a number of butterfly species, including the Adonis blue, chalkhill blue, common blue, dark green fritillary, Essex skipper, marbled white (Melanargia galathea), meadow brown, silver-spotted skipper (Hesperia comma), small heath, small skipper, and the speckled wood. There is also a diverse bird population, including the green woodpecker, commonly seen feeding amongst the many anthills (which are also very important for the lifecycle of the Lycaenidae butterflies) and the turtle dove.

Many species of orchid can be found on the hill or in the immediate vicinity including the fly, bee and frog orchids.[6]

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