Black Ball Camp: a later prehistoric defended settlement on Gallox Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

Somerset West and Taunton (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SS 98428 42651

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. All well-preserved examples are likely to be identified as nationally important.

Black Ball Camp survives as a good example of its class and is associated with two further defended enclosures, a hillfort, and an open settlement within coaxial fields.


The monument includes a circular defended settlement above the shoulder of Gallox Hill. The enclosure contains c.0.3ha of sloping land encircled by a bank up to 1.9m high, an outer ditch up to 1.5m deep, and a counterscarp bank up to 1.9m high beyond the ditch on all but the uphill side. The entrance is downhill on the south-west side, approached by a causeway across the ditch, and is inturned and slightly askew. To the north-west of the entrance, disturbance has been caused by modern digging, but a raised circular area, perhaps a guardhouse, can still be seen inside the inturn. Inside the south-west inturn is a possible hut circle which may be contemporary with the earthworks. This is 5m across, with an entrance to the north. Bat's Castle hillfort, which is broadly contemporary, lies 550m to the south on the hill above and forms the subject of a separate scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


33565, (1993)


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