Small multivallate promontory fort on Blacker's Hill
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015493
Date first listed: 19-Dec-1929
Date of most recent amendment: 31-Jan-1997
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Feb-2019 at 15:49:13.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Mendip (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 63666 50051
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
Blacker's Hill survives as a good example of its class with upstanding earthworks.
The monument includes a promontory hillfort enclosing an area of 4.5ha on the
spur of an escarpment. Earthworks define the north and west sides of the fort.
The other sides of the fort relied on a steep natural scarp for defence.
The earthworks, on the north and east sides, consist of a double bank and
ditch. On the other two sides only the outer defence survives. The banks to
the north and east are steep and up to 4m high, the intervening ditch being
2m-4m wide. The outer ditch is broader and shallower. The south and west sides
of the fort relied principally on the natural scarp for defence, there is a
ledge 1m-2m wide along the scarp face about 2m below the break of slope on the
south west side of the fort, showing that this slope has been artificially
steepened as part of the defence works. Along the southern scarp is a trackway
ledge running up to the fort from an area disturbed by later quarrying. There
are three entrances through the earthworks into the interior: one on the
northern corner, and one half-way down each of the east and west sides. These
are all associated with modern field divisions and farm access points and it
is unclear if they are original.
The inner bank and ditch on the northern side of the site were damaged
in the 19th century when the field there was enlarged, and their course is now
only visible as a slight rise and hollow. The earthworks by Blacker's Hill
Farm have been reduced in height, and this is likely to have been either to
provide building material for the farm or to improve the view from it.
The outer ditch on the northern side is utilised as a farm trackway.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fence posts, telegraph poles, and
the made-up surface of the track to the farm, though the ground beneath all
these features is included.
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: 29032
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Burrow, I, Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in Somerset, (1981)
Patch, G (landowner), (1995)
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