Bill Hill is a public open space and wildlife haven in Bracknell. It consists of a naturally wooded hillock that rises sharply from grassland off Downshire Way, towards the Bronze Age round barrow at its summit.
At the top of the hill, on its eastern side, is a circular mound of earth, hollowed out in the centre. This is the remains of a Bronze Age tumulus or round barrow, an example of a prehistoric monument that can be found all over Britain.
Round barrows were used as burial mounds from the Neolithic period (c2200 BC) right through the Bronze Age (c1000 BC) and again in the Anglo Saxon period. They may cover individual or multiple burials and may also have been used for cremations.
Bill Hill has been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument since the 1950s. This means that it is recognised nationally as an important archaeological site and is protected by law.
Before features such as round barrows had legal protection, many were partly or completely levelled by land use, although they can often still be detected as distinctive markings on the ground on aerial photographs. In addition, many tumuli were disturbed by the early barrow diggers of the late 18th and 19th centuries. The hollow in the top of Bill Hill barrow may well have been the result of an early unrecorded excavation of this sort.
More information about barrow construction can be found on the Historic England website.
As well as the round barrow, several linear banks are visible on the hill.
These are probably old field boundaries, identified on an estate map of the area dated 1757, though it is possible they may be even older.
How to get to Bill Hill
There is no car park from which to access Bill Hill. The best place to park is in Crowthorne Road to the north east of the mound, near the Green Man pub, RG12 7DL.
By foot or bike
Bill Hill can easily be approached on foot and cycle - a cycle way runs along the foot of the hill. The main entrance is in Rectory Lane but there is also access from Downshire Way and Dundas Close, off Saffron Road.
Bill Hill is managed to:
- provide a safe and attractive place for informal recreation
- protect its historic wildlife value
- conserve and enhance its wildlife value
The site has been improved with new woodland paths and features at the site entrances and near the round barrow at its summit. These provide information about the archaeological and historical aspects of the site, as well as how we manage Bill Hill for recreation and wildlife.
The prime habitat is the semi-natural broad-leaved woodland covering the hillside. This is dominated by mature beech, with oak, and a diverse range of other native trees and shrubs including silver birch and rowan.
Ground flora includes some patches of bluebell which provide a colourful display in the spring and other typical woodland herbs. Dead and decaying wood provide a valuable habitat for woodpeckers and stag beetles.