Letcombe Regis, South of Wantage, Oxfordshire.



Segsbury Camp, also known as Letcombe Castle, is a rather large fort encompassing an area of no less than 30 acres. From its position, 210 metres up the northern face of the Berkshire Downs, it boasts a favourable view over the Vale of the White Horse to the north, though due to the lie of the Downs this is somewhat restricted, to a mile in places, in the easterly and westerly directions. The fort is enclosed by a single ditch which, on the western, southern and eastern faces, has been dug in a more or less straight line, but the whole of the northern rampart is curved, following the shape of the hill.


A modern track road, which connects with the Ridgeway just 100 metres to the south, sadly dissects the fort, although archeological evidence has suggested that the point where this road breaches the southern rampart may disguise an original entrance. This is not at all certain, however, but it is known that there was a gateway in the centre of the eastern rampart, and a much-trodden track leading up to it, used now for farming purposes, can be clearly seen on the aerial photograph below.


Archeological investigations of Segsbury during the 1990's revealed a plethora of evidence for human activity in the fort interior and just outside it to the south-west; pits, gullies, post holes, possibly hearths, and finds of iron all suggested that there was a substantial settlement here. The construction of the fort has yet to be dated, although the evidence implies that it began around 6-700 BC with a rampart fronted by a wooden palisade and backed by chalk, which was typical of the era, with two modifications added over the following centuries, the last around 200 BC.


The fort may not have been continuously occupied during this period, but there is evidence to suggest that there was life here at around the time of the Roman Conquest of 43 AD; pottery of the era has been found on the site, and it is possible that the road driven through what is now the southern entrance is Roman in origin. Evidence of a possible Saxon burial has also been found; an excavation in 1871 revealed a "cist" on the southern rampart below a sarsen slab, the "Altar Stone", with the floor of the cist formed by stone slabs and the walls by flint. It contained fragments of human remains, a drinking vessel, flint scrapers, and what may have been a shield boss.


Guide to Photographs



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