Iron Age defended settlement above Sweetworthy (western of two)
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Sep-2021 at 15:46:24.
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 88877 42361
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.
The western settlement enclosure above Sweetworthy survives as a good example of its class despite some stone-robbing on the lower side. It is one of a pair which form part of an unusual grouping of associated prehistoric and medieval settlements.
The monument includes an Iron Age defended settlement on the lower
northern slopes of Dunkery Hill. It is one of two within 80m of each other and
close to another larger enclosure of similar type.
The site is of a levelled area forming a round platform 35m across, with
a bank 0.5m high partially enclosing the upper sides. The lower side is a
simple scarp 1.1m high, though on the north east there are no visible
earthworks. The proximity of the site to a more modern hedge-bank may suggest
that the lower side of the earthworks has been robbed for stone.
In the south west of the enclosure is a circular hollow 6m across,
representing the site of a round house. The bank adjacent to this has been
eroded by a later track, which has revealed an upright stone slab 0.5m high,
and a second earthfast stone, suggesting the bank covers the foundations of a
stone-revetted wall, or a gateway at this point.
Excluded from the scheduling is the fence around the monument, although the
ground beneath it is included.
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:
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