St Catherine's Hill 5056

St Cross, England, Hampshire, Winchester

Brief Description

St Catherine's Hill has remnants of an Iron Age hill fort and a 12th-century chapel. In the mid-17th century a maze was created on parts of the Hill, which still exists. The site is now managed as a grassland nature reserve.

History

St Catherine's Hill dates back to the 12th century BC. The Hill was used as an Iron Age fort at least from the 6th century BC, but was later abandoned. St Catherine's Hill was unoccupied until the 12th century AD, when St Catherine's Chapel was constructed on the hill. The Hill was used as sports grounds for Winchester College for hundreds of years, until 1868. It is now partially owned by the Old Wykehamist Lodge of Freemasons.

Visitor Facilities

The nature reserve is open to the public. For further details see: http://www.hwt.org.uk/pages/st-catherines-hill.html

Detailed Description

St Catherine's Hill is an Iron Age site covering 9.3 hectares and is an oval shape. This site was defended with a line of bank and ditch, which followed the hill's contours. After the 1st century BC the Hill was unoccupied until the 12th century AD. At this time, the Hill was the location for St Catherine's Chapel, which was built in a cruciform shape and did not have any aisles.

Apart from the Hill's interesting history and its recreational role for walking and viewing the surrounding countryside, the Hill is a maze. The maze was designed between 1647 and 1710. It is called the Mizmaze and is a labyrinth cut into the turf, which has Christian and pre-Christian symbolism. The Mizmaze is curious in design due to its uninterrupted path which leads from the entry point to the centre. It is suggested that between 1830 and 1840 the maze was wrongly recut so that its present condition is an exact negative of the original. The Iron Age Hill fort is a scheduled ancient monument. The grazed chalk grassland, with representative flora and insect fauna, is a Hants and Isle of Wight Naturalists Trust Nature Reserve.

Features
  • Labyrinth
  • Description: The 'Mismaze', a turf maze
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  • Chapel
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  • Chapel (featured building)
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Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The nature reserve is open to the public. For further details see: http://www.hwt.org.uk/pages/st-catherines-hill.html
History

Detailed History

St Catherine's Hill is an ancient monument that dates back to the 12th century BC. Excavations in 1927-8 showed that occupation on the hill probably began in the 6th century BC. The Iron Age fort was sacked in the 1st century BC and was not occupied thereafter. The foundations of St Catherine's Chapel remain on the site. For centuries ‘Hills' was the playground for Winchester College until 1868, when level playing fields near the College were created. Since 1894 the traditional association between Winchester College and St Catherine's Hill has been maintained by a school-organised gathering twice a year.

In 1930 the Old Wykehamist Lodge of Freemasons purchased St Catherine's Hill from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The Old Wykehamist Lodge purchased the Hill in order to ensure access rights for the members of the Lodge. There are also grazing rights let elsewhere on the Hill. These various ownerships of St Catherine's Hill complicate the maintenance of this ancient monument.

Contact
References

Contributors

  • Hampshire Gardens Trust