A settlement has existed at Gringley on the Hill since at least the Bronze Age (2,500 BC to 800 BC) and the site later found itself in close proximity to the Roman road running between Lincoln and Doncaster. The Domesday survey of 1086 listed it as a medium sized settlement consisting of 16 households although its value was significantly reduced from the time of the invasion presumably due to the Norman's efforts to suppress resistance. However, the village recovered and on 2 November 1252 Henry III granted it a market and annual fair. At some point during this long history, a rudimentary fortification was established on a mound immediately to the east of the village that has become known as Beacon Hill.
Precisely who fortified Beacon Hill or when is unknown. The site consists of the summit of a natural hill which has some evidence of artificial scarping and was at least partially surrounded by what seems to be a crudely prepared defensive ditch. In his Castellarium anglicanum King describes the site as a motte but other authors seem less sure and the modern listing is non-committal. It is possible the site was used during the Bronze or Iron Ages as a small hillfort. Another explanation might be the site was indeed used as a motte fortification although the haphazard nature of the defences would make it unlikely this was built by the Normans. It could possibly have been prepared during the twelfth century Anarchy, the civil war between Stephen and Matilda, as an observation post and safe refuge for the local populace. Alternatively, as its name suggests, it may have been a (seventeenth century) civil war beacon that was lightly fortified to prevent unwanted interference. Whatever the truth, contrary to what other authors have suggested, it certainly wasn't the same Beacon Hill occupied by Prince Rupert in 1644 during his efforts to relieve Newark Castle for it is over 20 miles from that location! Furthermore its use as a fortification seems to have been short-lived with the evidence, scant as it may be, suggesting just a single phase of defensive development.
Historic England (2017). Beacon Hill Camp, Listing Number 1003241. Historic England, London.
King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Kraus International Publications.
Ordnance Survey, Historic England and RCAHMW (2016). Roman Britain. 1:625,000 Scale. Ordnance Survey, Southampton.
Ordnance Survey (2015). Bassetlaw. 1:1250. Southampton.
Salter, M (2002). The Castles of the East Midlands. Folly Publications, Malvern.
Williams, A and Martin, G.H (2003). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. Viking, London.
Beacon Hill consists of a natural mound that has been artificially scarped to improve its defensive qualities. The site is accessible to the public and offers good views over the surrounding area. A thirteenth century Market Cross, recently restored, can be found further along the High Street.
Beacon Hill. The mound is found to the east of Gringley on the Hill. It is accessed via a gate near the cross-roads between Beacon Hill Road and High Street.
The impressive view from Beacon Hill.
Market Cross. Gringley on the Hill was granted a weekly market and annual fair on 2 November 1252.
BEACON HILL (GRINGLEY ON THE HILL)
Beacon Hill is a natural mound with some artificial scarping and traces of a defensive ditch that is found immediately to the east of Gringley on the Hill. Who converted the site into a fortification and why is unknown with the possibilities ranging from an ancient hillfort to a lightly fortified civil war beacon.
Beacon Hill is found at the cross roads between Beacon Hill Road and High Street. There is no dedicated car park but on-road parking along High Street is possible with care.
Car Parking Option
High St, DN10 4RH
High Street, DN10 4RT