Butser Hill

Coordinates: 50°58′40″N 0°58′53″W / 50.97767°N 0.9815°W / 50.97767; -0.9815
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Butser Hill
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Grid referenceSU 714 199[1]
Area239.7 hectares (592 acres)[1]
Location mapMagic Map
Butser Hill
Butser Hill is located in Hampshire
Butser Hill
Butser Hill
Butser Hill in Hampshire
Highest point
Elevation271 m (889 ft)
Prominence158 m (518 ft)
Parent peakWalbury Hill
ListingMarilyn, Hardy
Coordinates50°58′40″N 0°58′53″W / 50.97767°N 0.9815°W / 50.97767; -0.9815
LocationSouth Downs, England
OS gridSU716203
Topo mapOS Landranger 197

Butser Hill is a hill and nature reserve in Hampshire, England. South-west of Petersfield, it is a 239.7-hectare (592-acre) biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest.[1][2] It is a national nature reserve[3] and a Special Area of Conservation.[4] Part of it is a Geological Conservation Review site[5] and an area of 84.8 hectares (210 acres) is Oxenbourne Down, which is designated a Local Nature Reserve.[6] Part of it is a Scheduled Monument.[7]

It is a chalk hill[8] and one of the highest points in Hampshire. It is also the highest point on the chalk ridge of the South Downs and the second highest point in the South Downs National Park after Blackdown in the Western Weald. Although only 271 metres (889 ft) high,[8] it qualifies as one of England's Marilyns. It is located within the borders of the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

The name Butser comes from the Old English Bryttes Oran meaning Briht's slope. Oran or Ora is Old English for flat topped hill and/or steep slope.[9]

The flat summit is surrounded by a number of spurs.[8] Iron Age ditches and banks divide the spurs from the summit although the purpose of these earthworks is unclear.[8]

There is evidence of lynchet farming on the southeast side of the hill.[10] The age of the lynchets is unknown but Roman pottery has been brought to the surface by rabbit holes.[10]

There are aerial masts on the hill.[11]

The hill was purchased by Hampshire County Council in 1966.[8] Prior to the purchase the summit was used for growing wheat but now the only farming activity is grazing.[8] In December 2021 a £240,000 program was announced to restore grassland on the hill and improve trails.[12]

Butser Hill has a rich variety of flora and fauna located upon the hill. Butser Hill is in the top twenty Hampshire chalk grassland sites for its rich vascular flora, and is the richest chalk grassland site in Hampshire in terms of its bryophyte (125 species) and lichen (82 species) flora. As well as this, over 30 species of butterfly have been recorded, including populations of Duke of Burgundy and the Silver-spotted Skipper, making the area an important conservation area for many butterfly species.

There is an annual Fell Run called the Butser Hill Challenge that involves running up and down the hill three times.[13][14]


A spur of Butser Hill known as Little Butser was the original home of the Butser Ancient Farm experimental archaeology project.[8]

Butser Hill has been a primary hang-gliding site since the early-1970s.[15]

The 1986 Only Fools and Horses episode Tea for Three was filmed, in part, at Butser Hill.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Designated Sites View: Butser Hill". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Map of Butser Hill". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Designated Sites View: Butser Hill". National Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Designated Sites View: Butser Hill". Special Areas of Conservation. Natural England. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  5. ^ "Rake Bottom (Quaternary of South Central England)". Geological Conservation Review. Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Retrieved 21 April 2020.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Designated Sites View: Oxenbourne Down, Clanfield". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  7. ^ "A hilltop enclosed by Iron Age cross dykes, an associated field system and Bronze Age barrows at Butser Hill". Historic England. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Reynolds, Peter J (1979). Iron-Age farm The Butser Experiment. British Museum Publications Limited. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0-7141-8014-4.
  9. ^ Hampshire Place Names by Richard Coates Ensign Publications 1993 page 46
  10. ^ a b Piggott, Stuart (March 1930). "Butser hill". Antiquity. 4 (13): 197. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00004506. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  11. ^ "SOLENT Airspace guide summer 2008" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 August 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  12. ^ Napier, Andrew (5 December 2021). "Investment in Butser Hill, in South Downs National Park". Hampshire chronicle. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  13. ^ Brawn, David (30 September 2014). "Baker is up to the Butser Hill Challenge again". The news. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Butser Hill Challenge". Hantsweb. Hampshire County Council. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  15. ^ "Butser | SkySurfing Club". 11 July 2019. Archived from the original on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  16. ^ ""Only Fools and Horses" Tea for Three (TV Episode 1986) - IMDb".