An imposing feature on the eastern side of Daventry, Borough Hill has been used by humans for thousands of years and is the site of one of the largest ancient hill forts in the country.
Today it is maintained as a country park, offering spectacular views of the surrounding area as well as providing a haven for local wildlife and a popular spot for dog walkers.
Metal detecting is not permitted on Borough Hill.
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Remains have been found on the hill of two Iron Age hill forts, two Bronze Age barrows and of a later Roman villa and farming settlement. Items from the Neolithic period, the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Saxon and Viking periods have also been unearthed.
The site was first excavated in 1823 by historian and archaeologist George Baker, who discovered the remains of the Roman villa. The remains were then fully excavated and recorded in 1852 by local historian Beriah Botfield. His notes, manuscripts and some of the antiquities found are now kept at the British Museum. The site is designated as a Scheduled Monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
The hill also played a role in the build-up to the Battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645, which saw the Royalist Army of King Charles I crushed by Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. The Royalist army used Borough Hill as a base in the week leading up to the decisive battle, before moving off towards Market Harborough and into the path of the Parliamentarian Forces led by Sir Thomas Fairfax.
The BBC began broadcasting from the site in 1925. From 1932 the BBC Empire Service (later the BBC World Service) was broadcast from Borough Hill and the radio announcement of "Daventry calling" made Daventry well-known across the world.
The hill also played an important role in the development of radar, after Robert Watson-Watt successfully demonstrated his invention for the first time on February 26, 1935, using receiving equipment set up near Weedon and the signals transmitted from the BBC station on Borough Hill.
His instruments were able to detect an RAF Heyford bomber flying at 6,000 feet – proving to the Air Ministry the effectiveness of his invention.
The BBC station on Borough Hill remained in place until 1992, when, after 65 years of broadcasting, the last transmitter was switched off and the forest of masts that once sat overlooking the town was felled.
Only one mast stands on the site today, owned and operated by Arqiva Communications.
Find out more about the history of Borough Hill in this fascinating story map created by MOLA and CLASP.
Last updated 06 July 2023