Butser Hill

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Butser Hill
Butser Hill.jpg
Butser Hill from the base of the public bridleway near the A3 road
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; -0.9815Coordinates: 50°58′40″N 0°58′53″W / 50.97767°N 0.9815°W / 50.97767; -0.9815
Butser Hill is located in Hampshire
Butser Hill
Butser Hill
Butser Hill in Hampshire
LocationSouth Downs, England
OS gridSU716203
Topo mapOS Landranger 197

Butser Hill is a chalk hill[1] 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,[1] it qualifies as one of England's Marilyns. It is located within the borders of the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, situated about three miles south of the historic market town of Petersfield, Hampshire.

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.[2]

The flat summit is surrounded by a number of spurs.[1] Iron Age ditches and banks divide the spurs from the summit although the purpose of these earthworks is unclear.[1]

There is evidence of lynchet farming on the southeast side of the hill.[3] The age of the lynchets is unknown but Roman pottery has been brought to the surface by rabbit holes.[3]

There are aerial masts on the hill.[4]

The hill was purchased by Hampshire County Council in 1966.[1] Prior to the purchase the summit was used for growing wheat but now the only farming activity is grazing.[1]

Most of the park, including Butser Hill, is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and since 1998 as a National Nature Reserve. At 2.312 square kilometres (0.893 sq mi) this is large when compared against other lowland terrestrial SSSIs and is the second largest area of calcareous grassland in Hampshire.

Butser Hill SSSI has been proposed by the Government as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), recognising its importance from a European perspective. This is due to the 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.

Butser Hill has also hosted entertainment events. Since 2007 it has hosted butserfest and has hosted various country fairs in the past.

There is an annual Fell Run called the Butser Hill Challenge that involves running up and down the hill three times.[5][6]

After a ceremonial event held in 2019, Christopher Harvey-Hawes was officially declared mayor of the hill. This act made him the mayor with the worlds smallest jurisdiction.


A spur of Butser Hill known as Little Butser was the original home of the Butser Ancient Farm experimental archaeology project.[1]

In Only Fools and Horses; The hang glider scene in the episode "Tea For Three" was filmed on the western slopes of Butser Hill.[citation needed] Butser Hill has been a primary hang-gliding site since the early-1970s.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Hampshire Place Names by Richard Coates Ensign Publications 1993 page 46
  3. ^ a b Piggott, Stuart (March 1930). "Butser hill". Antiquity: A Quarterly Review of Archaeology. 4 (13): 197. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  4. ^ "SOLENT Airspace guide summer 2008" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-05. Retrieved 2012-07-29.
  5. ^ Brawn, David (30 September 2014). "Baker is up to the Butser Hill Challenge again". The news. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Butser Hill Challenge". Hantsweb. Hampshire County Council. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Butser | SkySurfing Club". web.archive.org. 2019-07-11. Retrieved 2019-07-11.