Stokeleigh Camp: a promontory fort in Leigh Woods


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.

North Somerset (Unitary Authority)
Long Ashton
National Grid Reference:
ST 55901 73331

Reasons for Designation

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally important.

The promontory fort in Leigh Woods survives well and is known from excavation to contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed and later re-used. This is one of three promontory forts surviving locally. Together, these will provide a detailed insight into the Iron Age societies of the area, their economy and political structure.


The monument includes an Iron Age fort and an associated linear earthwork situated on a carboniferous limestone promontory in Leigh Woods, overlooking the Avon Gorge to the east and the Nightingale Valley to the south. The fort comprises a level interior 150m north-south by 250m east-west, enclosed on all but the sheer eastern side by ramparts which were composed of small stones and surmounted by dry stone walling. The level of defence varies from a double rampart in the north-west to a single rampart in the south. The double rampart is substantial: the inner bank is 4.5m high and accompanying ditch 1m deep, giving a total width of 30m. The outer bank is 2.5m high and the ditch 1m deep giving a total width of 25m. An additional earthwork runs beyond the outer rampart along the north-west side of the fort before turning west. The location of the entrance to the fort is uncertain but is most likely to have been on the northern side where access could have been regulated between the outer rampart and external bank. Partial excavation of the site by The Bristol Spelaeological Society between 1966 and 1971 revealed the presence of Late Iron Age and Romano-British occupation debris from within the interior of the hillfort. This material included pottery, spindle whorls, an iron sickle and a bronze brooch, most of which was recovered from pits.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Burrow, E J, Ancient Earthworks and camps of Somerset, (1924)
Details of finds from the site, Details of finds from the site (Dolebury Camp),


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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