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Ashleys Copse, Nether Wallop

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Buckholt; Popple Light Copse

In the civil parish of Nether Wallop.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Hampshire.
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU26083483
Latitude 51.11245° Longitude -1.63037°

Ashleys Copse, Nether Wallop has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


An entrenchment at Ashley Wood occupying the "S.E. half of the end of a spur which juts out to the north-west {sic} from the steep range of hills 2 miles south of the Wallop stream....
The shape of the entrenchment is that of two loops jutting out one beyond the other on the spur. The base or chord cutting off the inner loop is wanting, unless a faint scarp represents it....
The ramparts consist of a broad low bank rising from 1 to 2 feet above the area, and surmounting a ditch of 5 to 8 feet below its crest, with a low bank on the counter-scarp about 2 or 3 feet above the outside slope". Along the edge of a gully, on the south-east side of the entrenchment, there is a low bank which turns out at right angles across the spur and loses itself in Popplewhite Copse, and the same may be said of the outermost bank of the outer loop where it crosses the spur. There are no traces of foundations or flints, the banks being very soft and covered with deep herbage....
There is a gap about the centre of both loops. The entrenchment must have been continued in Ashley's Copse.
"In its present condition it is to me incomprehensible, though the northern projection looping out from the inner one of course suggests a Norman construction", possibly the remains of a bailey whose citadel has been obliterated by the planting of the wood. (Williams-Freeman).
A hillfort formed by a single bank and ditch with an area of c.6 acres, and occupying the tip of a gravel-capped eastern spur, the ground falling away precipitously to the south and fairly steeply to the north and east.
It is evident from the description in 3 that J.P. Williams- Freeman was only aware of the eastern portion of the earthworks and had not traced their full extent.
The bank and ditch are best preserved on the west: a counterscarp bank is present round the eastern end (see section A-B).
The fort is mutilated near its eastern end by the remains of an earthwork (ditch with outer bank) of parallelogram form which is superimposed across the rampart and in one place apparently cuts through a midden, 'C', where some animal bones and a rim sherd (? IA'A') were found.
Within the fort are some pits, presemably gravel workings and perhaps connected with the hollow way leading to the main road. (F1 VJB 10-FEB-56)
Ashley's Copse was surveyed by staff from the RCHME Salisbury office as part of a project focussing on the earthworks of South Wiltshire. The following is abstracted from the archive report:
This extensive and complex group of earthworks is situated above a N facing scarp slope of the Upper Chalk at c152m OD. Local deposits of Tertiary gravels cover the chalk over the NW part of the site, and their subsequent quarrying has caused extensive damage to part of the complex. Immediately to the SE of the hillfort, a steep-sided, dry coombe cuts into the scarp slope, giving extensive views over the central Hampshire chalklands and affording clear views of Quarley Hill and Danebury.
The univallate hillfort is oval in shape and encloses c2.6ha. A low counterscarp bank is visible around the circuit, with the exception of the SE quadrant, where an overlying enclosure has obscured detail. The defences are best preserved in the SW quadrant, where the overall width exceeds 18m. Here, the rampart stands c1.75m high and the ditch is up to 2m deep. Nearly 50% of the interior has been disturbed by later gravel extraction. These pits are confined to the W and S areas of the hillfort, while ploughing has affected the NE quadrant. As a result, no internal detail is visible on the ground.
Two original entrances were noted, one on the NE marked by inturning of the rampart; the second being S-facing, with an outwork on its W flank.
During the course of the survey, large quantities of pottery and a small amount of struck flint was recovered from the hillfort interior. The earliest diagnostic sherds are of haematite coated 'scratched cordoned bowls' of the later 6th and 5th Centuries BC. Other diagnostic sherds indicate activity during the 1st century BC through to the later Roman period. The flintwork concentrated in the area to the S of the NE entrance suggests activity during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Full details of the surveyed earthworks can be found in the archive report. (RCHME Field Investigation 12-FEB-1992 (MC Corney). (PastScape)

King writes double enclosure of possible castle. Hampshire Treasure describes this as a Hill Fort. South-east of Popple Light Copse. Single bank and ditch in an area of approximately 6 acres. Mutilated near its eastern end by the remains of an earthwork and partly ploughed out. However, Hampshire Treasures also gives the date of this monument as Saxon! The OS map calls it 'Settlement'. On steep sided spur of hill, but not on hill top. To the north and roughly in line is a linear earthwork. The mutilated earthwork at the east of the site may be a temporary earthwork castle, possibly of the Conquest period or the Anarchy (since this was an area of much military activity during that period). The position overlooking the road and the pre-existing earthworks make this a possibility but actual evidence for this weak.

NB site lies astride county boundary, greater part is in Hampshire but east end in Wiltshire, county boundary run along approximate line of slight earthwork which divides site into two.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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