The Atlas of Hillforts Project and Citizen Science

23 January 2014

The Hillforts Atlas Project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and directed by Emeritus Professor Gary Lock, Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg. The project works in collaboration with Edinburgh University and University College Cork and has teams of people based at those two places as well as in Kellogg. Here are based Dr Ian Brown, Dr Paula Levick and Jessica Murray a project-funded DPhil student, who are responsible for English and Welsh data.

The project’s aim is to produce a paper and an online atlas of all hillforts in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Although a range of different local, regional and national data resources exist for hillforts an integrated single searchable source of information has never been tried before for the estimated 5,000 to 6,000 sites. For more information visit

Hillforts are enigmatic monuments, enclosed areas surrounded by banks and ditches or stone walls and often, but not always, on hilltops. They probably had a range of uses during the periods when they were constructed and used which could be from the Late Bronze Age (c. 1,000 BC) to early medieval times. They are very variable across the five countries of interest here and this project aims to not only collate existing data but also to enhance it with more detail describing the characteristics of these often large monuments.


The hillfort of Segsbury Camp, on the Ridgeway, Oxfordshire, England, the road through the middle is modern. 

To help collect data on hillforts the project includes a Citizen Science survey whereby members of the public are guided in how to survey hillforts and submit data. At the project website are online and downloadable forms and extensive Notes for Guidance on how to fill them in. The aim of this is not only to collect data but also so that people can learn about these enigmatic monuments and visit them with a more critical and informed eye. One of the good things about hillforts is that they are often located in beautiful places and are visited by many people, close to Oxford, for example, are the Ridgeway hillforts of Uffington Castle and Segsbury Camp. The survey has been well received in all five countries, for example a group of people in the Chilterns are about to start on surveying 19 local hillforts and a group in the New Forest are holding a ‘love your hillforts’ campaign which includes carrying out many surveys. The project offers support and guidance so if you are interested please contact Ian, Paula or myself, details on the Project website. 

Gary Lock, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, University of Oxford School of Archaeology, and Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College.