Burrough Hill - History


Burrough Hill is the best example of a univallate hillfort (surrounded by a single ditch and rampart) in Leicestershire. Finds from the site date from as early as the Mesolithic, indicating the area has seen human activity over an extended period of time, however it is likely that a settlement was only created in the Late Bronze or Early Iron Age. The subsequent development of the hillfort is unclear. As yet it is uncertain whether the settlement outside the hillfort was contemporary with the occupation of the hillfort or represent a different phase of activity on the site. The period of most intensive activity at Burrough Hill was between 100 BC and AD 50. Artefacts indicate that the settlement had a wide range of trade links. Towards the end of the Iron Age, the fort gradually degraded. A layer of refuse bears testament to this and contains Roman pottery. It is likely the site was still in use between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, at which point Britain was under Roman control. During the Roman period, habitation was focused in the northern part of the fort.

In the medieval period, the interior of the hillfort along with the surrounding area was farmed; traces of ridge and furrow still mark where the fields were ploughed. As well as being used agriculturally, locals used the hill to hold a fair. According to 16th-century antiquarian John Leland, on Whit Mondays the hill was used for social events such as dancing and games. In his Itinerary, Leland noted that curiosity prompted him to excavate some of the earthworks near the entrance and his account may be regarded as the earliest archaeological field report. The hill was used as farmland until the 17th century when the parish was enclosed. In the 19th century, Burrough Hill was used by the Melton Hunt for steeple-chasing.

The first professional archaeological excavation on Burrough Hill was in 1935; it was not well recorded, and the exact location of the trench is not certain, but it covered some 360 square feet (33 m2) and was somewhere outside the east of the hillfort. Finds included animal bones and twelve pieces of Iron Age and Roman pottery. Excavations were next undertaken in 1960, by which time new technology meant non-invasive techniques such as magnetometery could be used alongside digging. About half the fort was surveyed using a proton magnetometer. Several features identified through this geophysical survey were partially excavated; they turned out to be storage pits and produced artefacts such as animal bones, quern stones for grinding, and various shards of Iron Age and Roman pottery. The entrance was also examined, and excavations revealed a cobbled surface leading into the fort as well as what may have been a guardhouse. More animal bone was found here as well as Iron Age and Roman pottery, and a brooch from the La Tène culture.

Further excavations were undertaken in 1967 when an area 50.0 by 50.0 feet (15.25 by 15.25 m) was excavated within the northern part of the hillfort with the intention of investigating pit-like features identified in the 1960 magnetometry survey. Finds from the twelve pits consisted of Iron Age and Roman pottery, animal bones, and charcoal. The layer of topsoil above the pits produced Roman pottery and some Roman coins from the 3rd and 4th centuries. The 1960 survey again guided the excavations of 1970 and 1971 when several trenches totalling an area of 680 square feet (63 m2) were dug in the interior near the rampart on the north side of the site. A trench was dug across the rampart to provide a cross-section. Despite multiple excavations, the results have generally been poorly published and as a result the hillfort remains little understood.

The 86 acres (35 ha) country park containing the hillfort has been leased by the Ernest Cook Trust, who own the site, to Leicestershire County Council since 1970. The area is still used as farmland, mostly for crops but with some livestock such as cows and sheep. Burrough Hill Country Park, which contains the hillfort, is open to the public in daylight hours.

In 2010 a five-year excavation began on the site, carried out by the University of Leicester School of Archaeology & Ancient History with the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS). According to Dr Patrick Clay research in the 1990s and 2000s on farmsteads and undefended settlements had revealed much about Iron Age Leicestershire, however the role of hillforts in the county was less clear. The excavations aimed to address the issue of the purpose of hillforts in the region, and also acted as a training dig for students at the university. The hillfort is a Scheduled Monument, which means it is a "nationally important" structure and archaeological site which has been given protection against unauthorised change. Assessing the progress of the excavations after the first three years of excavations, John Thomas who is in charge of the project remarked

The last excavations focussed on a series of large storage pits that had become filled in with domestic refuse and produced a significant collection of objects including one of the largest groups of Iron Age metalwork from the East Midlands . Further finds shed light on their social lives; a bone dice and gaming pieces were discovered alongside a polished bone flute and beautifully decorated blue glass bead from a necklace. These finds contrast sharply with artefacts found on other contemporary sites such as small farmsteads, suggesting differences in status and access to a wider range of material culture.

Read more about this topic:  Burrough Hill

Other articles related to "history":

History of Computing
... The history of computing is longer than the history of computing hardware and modern computing technology and includes the history of methods intended for pen and ...
Voltaire - Works - Historical
... History of Charles XII, King of Sweden (1731) The Age of Louis XIV (1751) The Age of Louis XV (1746–1752) Annals of the Empire – Charlemagne, A.D ... Essay on the Manners of Nations (or 'Universal History') (1756) History of the Russian Empire Under Peter the Great (Vol ... II 1763) History of the Parliament of Paris (1769) ...
Spain - History - Fall of Muslim Rule and Unification
... The breakup of Al-Andalus into the competing taifa kingdoms helped the long embattled Iberian Christian kingdoms gain the initiative ... The capture of the strategically central city of Toledo in 1085 marked a significant shift in the balance of power in favour of the Christian kingdoms ...
Xia Dynasty - Modern Skepticism
... The Skeptical School of early Chinese history, started by Gu Jiegang in the 1920s, was the first group of scholars within China to seriously question the ... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end" ...
Casino - History of Gambling Houses
... believed that gambling in some form or another has been seen in almost every society in history ... and Romans to Napoleon's France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on games of chance ... In American history, early gambling establishments were known as saloons ...

Famous quotes containing the word history:

    History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.
    Henry Ford (1863–1947)

    English history is all about men liking their fathers, and American history is all about men hating their fathers and trying to burn down everything they ever did.
    Malcolm Bradbury (b. 1932)

    The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
    Karl Marx (1818–1883)