Pen Pits quern quarries SE of Hart Hill
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1006139
Date first listed: 16-Mar-1977
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: South Somerset (District Authority)
Parish: Pen Selwood
National Grid Reference: ST 76732 31512
Part of the multi period stone quarry called Pen Pits.
Reasons for Designation
From before the development of farming in prehistoric times querns were being used to grind cereals and other tough food stuffs as part of the general preparation for cooking. Given the nature of this process only certain types of stone were particularly useful, others could be too soft, or break too easily, and throughout England types of Greensand were highly prized for this purpose from the Iron Age. The Roman conquest of Britain brought a significant increase in the requirement for both building stone and other more specific purposes and generated the first major quarrying industry to be developed in England. Quarries were opened and exploited from soon after the conquest to the end of the Roman period in the fifth century. A few produced either very high quality building stone or stone to meet specialist requirements which was transported for use over a wide area. Many were under military control, others were under the control of town authorities and in some instances they may also have been privately owned. Most provided building stone, but a few were used for more specific purposes to produce quern or mill stones. Quarrying techniques were relatively simple and involved the use of wedges, separation trenches and percussion to split lumps of rock from the parent material. Irregular blocks of stone were usually dressed to shape before being transported from the quarries. Tracks and pathways enabling the removal of stone from the quarry would also have existed. Visible remains include working faces, waste heaps and dressing floors. Today, however, very few Roman quarries can be positively identified because re-use in later times has removed much evidence for Roman activity, whilst the continued use of similar quarrying techniques over long periods often makes it impossible to determine the exact date of surviving remains. The southern part of the multi period stone quarry called Pen Pits survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the date, quarrying processes, development of differing technologies, longevity, relative chronology of the quarry pits themselves and the overall landscape context through a prolonged period of exploitation.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 27 August 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument includes part of a multi period stone quarry situated to the south east of Hart Hill on a prominent ridge overlooking the valleys of the River Stour and Combe Bottom. The quarries cover an extensive area and survive as a series of circular pits which rarely exceed 9m in diameter and 3m in depth and have a bowl shaped profile with traces of a ring shaped bank around the lip. They are generally located along the tops and upper slopes of the high ground with concentrations in two groups one to the north around Bottle Hill in Wiltshire and this the southern group. The pits are closely located and many have been backfilled. The quarries were used to acquire Greensand used predominantly for items including quern-stones, mortars and whetstones. Quarrying began in the region during the Iron Age and continued throughout the Roman, early medieval and later periods. In 1879 Pitt Rivers excavating the Norman Castle in the Bottle Hill area discovered a quarry which was found to contain some probable Roman pottery and tile fragments beneath and pre-dating the rampart of the bailey. Colt Hoare writing in 1812 mentions chance finds throughout the area of unused querns and fragments and many local people continue to discover chance finds of querns, whetstones and mortars.
The northern area of Pen Pits quarry and the Norman castle are the subject of separate schedulings. Further areas of quarrying in the vicinity are not included in the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: SO 470
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-202568
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing