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Iron Age settlement and associated field system on Smedmore Hill

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Iron Age settlement and associated field system on Smedmore Hill

List entry Number: 1014835

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Church Knowle

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-Jan-1970

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Jan-1997

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 28322

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Romano-British aggregate villages are nucleated settlements formed by groups of five or more subsistence level farmsteads enclosed either indivdually or collectively, or with no formal boundary. Most enclosures, where they occur, are formed by curvilinear walls or banks, sometimes surrounded by ditches, and the dwellings are usually associated with pits, stock enclosures, cultivation plots and field systems, indicating a mixed farming economy. In use throughout the Roman period (c.43-450 AD), they often occupied sites of earlier agricultural settlements. Romano-British aggregate villages are a very rare monument type with examples recorded in the north of England and on the chalk downlands of Wessex and Sussex. Their degree of survival will depend upon the intensity of subsequent land use. In view of their rarity, all positively identified examples with surviving remains are considered to merit protection.

Despite some ploughing, the aggregate village and associated field system on Smedmore Hill survive well and are known from part excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The monument is a rare and well preserved example of its class.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes an Iron Age aggregate village and associated field system, situated on the upper part of Smedmore Hill, a north facing ridge of the Isle of Purbeck.

The aggregate village and field system cover a total area of c.8.5ha. The aggregate village extends over an area of c.1.2ha, although ploughing along the northern and north eastern extremes has reduced the upstanding earthworks to an area of 1ha. Traces of an outer bank occur intermittently around the edge of the settlement. Sections of the bank are visible as earthworks 2m-3m wide and c.0.75m-0.9m high to the south west, south and south east. The four gaps within the bank are likely to represent entrances. Within the central western area, a gap 35m wide is associated with banks which inturn to the north and south and these may have served to direct stock movement into the settlement. A second entrance, 3m wide, occurs to the north west and provided access into the settlement via a trackway, aligned north west by south east. The track leads to an enclosure with dimensions of 35m by 10m. An entrance 3m wide on the south eastern side of this enclosure provided access into the field system to the north east. This represents the only means of access to the east. A final entrance occurs to the south, where a gap 5m wide occurs 20m from the western end.

The interior of the settlement contains a densely clustered group of 15 small enclosures, all terraced into the hillside utilising limestone rubble in order to level the interiors. The plots are defined by rubble-built banks with dimensions of between 1m-4m in width and c.0.25m-0.45m in height. These enclose irregular areas of between 0.02ha to 0.08ha. Two of the enclosures are associated with small mounds and others have short stretches of bank which subdivide the interiors. A mound which occurs 3m to the south of the village is composed of limestone rubble, aligned south west by north east, with maximum dimensions of 7m in length, 5.5m in width and c.0.25m in height.

Archaeological investigations were conducted on the eastern side of the settlement, during construction of a water pipe trench in 1956. These produced Iron Age pottery and Romano-British material including samian and coarse wares. Other finds included worked Kimmeridge shale debris and cores from bracelet production.

The settlement is associated with a field system to the north east. Traces of field banks were first recorded to the north east by the Royal Commission for Historic Monuments (England) during the 1950s, while aerial photographic evidence indicated traces of wider field system remains. The field banks to the east of the village are composed of limestone rubble and have maximum dimensions of 4m-8m in width and c.0.35m-0.5m in height. These lead towards an enclosure or paddock situated 150m to the east. The enclosure has maximum dimensions of 92m from east-west and 74m from north-south. To the north and north east of the enclosure is a series of lynchets which occupy the south and east facing slopes. The lynchets include terraces 18m-30m wide which are likely to have been used for cultivation.

Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts and dry stone walling relating to modern field boundaries, although the underlying ground is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509-10
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509-10
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509-10
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Other
Aerial view of field sytem, Aerial view of field sytem,
Location of lynchets,
Mention archaeological investigations,
Possible enclosure within fieldsystem,
Shale working,
Size of enclosure within field system,
Size of terraces,
Total area of surviving village,
Total size of village/field system,
Types of pottery remains recovered,

National Grid Reference: SY 93342 79588

Map

Map
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1014835 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 16-Dec-2017 at 01:11:31.

End of official listing