The Survey of Hillforts

We welcome contributions to this project from members of the public either as individuals or as part of local field groups. We very much hope this new way of gathering data will help us produce the best overview of hill- and promontory forts in Britain and Ireland that can be achieved in the timescale available to us.  We regret that we are not in a position to reimburse expenses you may incur either in visiting sites, or in forwarding information to us. We shall of course acknowledge all individuals who contribute to the project in the final products, notably the online material; should you wish not to be credited in this way, please inform us so on this form and you can remain anonymous. If you send us any imagery, we shall assume that it is your copyright and that we may reproduce it with due acknowledgement but without charge, unless you advise us otherwise. A member of the project team will contact you (preferably by e-mail) if we would appreciate additional information from you. We shall attempt to respond to questions you may have but, since we cannot predict demand, we ask that you excuse us if responses are slow. Messages from us will include ‘AHFBI’ in the subject line.

At the end of the project, we will make an assessment of the three most helpful Citizen Science contributions. These contributors will be acknowledged specially on the website and the Project Directors will send each of them a copy of the paper Atlas.  

Gary Lock, University of Oxford
Ian Ralston, University of Edinburgh

Co-directors of the Atlas project 

This survey has three aims:

  1. To gather information for the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland project. The results will be made widely available.
  2. To enable people to learn more about hillforts in a structured informed way, to encourage an understanding of the characteristics and details of hillforts and how they differ.
  3. To record any damage/erosion occurring to hillforts (record at question 5.1). 

Many of the elements we are asking you to record (e.g. number of entrances, number of ramparts and ditches) may not be obvious so we recommend that you undertake the survey with somebody else to encourage discussion and understanding. If you are a member of a local history and/or archaeological society then perhaps you could organise it as a group activity. 

For background information on hillforts see here 

As with any fieldwork you need to be aware of:

Access and Health and Safety

The project and its host Institutions bear no responsibility for any access or health and safety issues that may arise during your participation in this project. 

Disclaimer: The Co-directors of this project and their institutions are not responsible for issues of access to sites and health and safety of participants in the survey. By taking part in this survey you are acknowledging that access and health and safety are your responsibility.

Before setting out it is worth consulting online sources for advice on local conditions and any other appropriate measures to ensure your safety.


It is your responsibility to establish permission for access to a site; please do this before entering. If a site is not obviously on public land, or has a public right of way, then you should establish who the landowner is and get permission to visit. Note that legal requirements vary across Britain and Ireland. Some sites have mixed access, both public and private. Do not climb over fences or gates; use stiles and obvious entrances. Abusing access is likely to annoy the landowner and may make the visiting of sites more difficult for the rest of us - so please be sure. 

The following offer useful information:

The Ramblers Association has a section on walking in general in a wide range of environments with subsections covering safety equipment, clothing, ticks and all sorts.

Health and Safety

It is your responsibility to take health and safety precautions when visiting a site. Ramparts and ditches can be steep, muddy and dangerous underfoot so be careful and wear appropriate clothing and foot wear; a walking pole can be useful for support. It is a good idea to take a mobile phone in case of emergency, telling someone where you are going (especially if you are going alone), taking clothing, food, water and a hot drink in case you are out for longer than you initially expected. Never underestimate the variability of the weather at our latitudes.

Citizen Science

It is an accepted part of citizen science that duplication is good for confirming certain aspects of data and showing areas which need further investigation.  If we reach a point with any particular site where we feel we have enough data or where the site's popularity is causing problems, then we will post information about that site on the website.

The survey form can be downloaded as a Word File and PDF Document here.

It is essential that you use the Notes for Guidance, downloadable here.

School of Archaeology > Research Projects > The Survey of Hillforts