Stokeleigh Camp: a promontory fort in Leigh Woods
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008113
Date first listed: 29-Oct-1957
Date of most recent amendment: 16-Feb-1994
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North Somerset (Unitary Authority)
Parish: 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
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
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: 22829
Legacy System: RSM
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