Kingsdown camp, Mells Down


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mendip (District Authority)
Mendip (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 71837 51733


Iron Age defended settlement with outworks called Kingsdown Camp.

Reasons for Designation

During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were constructed and occupied in south western England. At the top of the settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. The Iron Age defended settlement with outworks called Kingsdown Camp is an unusual example with clear adaptive re-use in a later period. Although much is already known it will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its function, construction, development, longevity, re-use and overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 28 July 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 an Iron Age defended settlement with outworks situated on the upper east facing slopes of a spur called Mells Down. The settlement survives as a roughly square shaped central enclosure with rounded corners defined by a stony bank of up to 4.5m wide and 1m high with a 3.5m wide and 0.8m deep external ditch most clearly visible to the north and west. There is a visible entrance to the north east. The outworks survive some distance to the north west, east and south as a sinuous bank of up to 3m wide and 1m high which is preserved somewhat differentially. This area of outworks has been interpreted as a possible outer enclosure or partial field system. The central area was partially excavated in 1927-9 and revealed an outer drystone wall, V shaped outer ditch and an inner ditch. Two paved entrances were located to the north east and SSE. The northern entrance was of Roman origin and the southern entrance was original. The inner ditch produced Iron Age finds including two currency bars, pottery, bone needles and an iron dagger. The ditch also contained a number of burials relating to the later Roman occupation. The outer ditch contained Roman pottery. A number of mounds within the outer enclosure were also examined and found to be composed of local stone, Romano British pottery, flint flakes, iron slag in significant quantities and one had a re-interred skeleton. The exact function of the mounds was not determined. The Iron Age settlement had apparently been re-fortified in the 1st to 2nd centuries AD.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
SO 143
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:-203188


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

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