Iron Age settlement on Cow Down, 990m north west of Haycombe Hill Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Iron Age settlement on Cow Down, 990m north west of Haycombe Hill Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Longbridge Deverill
National Grid Reference:
ST 88714 40516

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 Iron Age settlement 990m north west of Haycombe Hill Farm survives well and is a good, undamaged example of this rare type of monument. Partial excavation has shown that it contains archaeological remains relating to the people who built the monument including the foundations of a large circular hut.


The monument includes an Iron Age settlement 990m north west of Haycombe Hill Farm on the top of Cow Down, a chalk hill on the eastern edge of the upper reaches of the Wylye valley. The monument has a flat `D' shaped area of 0.5ha enclosed by a ditch and outer bank. The straight edge of the enclosed area is aligned approximately north-south while the curved edge is a semicircle to the west of this. The ditch is 5m wide and up to 1.3m deep. The bank is 5m wide and up to 0.5m high on the curved edge while on the straight section to the east, it is lower and up to 0.1m high. An entrance to the east consists of a causeway across the ditch 3m wide. Partial excavation of the site in 1957 revealed three concentric rings of post holes interpreted as the foundations of a circular wooden hut measuring 11.5m in diameter. Chalk loom weights were also found in the vicinity and early Iron Age pottery was uncovered in the main ring of post holes and as a general scatter across the site. Two other Iron Age enclosures are recorded on Cow Down. These are circular and excavation revealed house sites and storage pits. These have been reduced by cultivation but remain visible as soil marks. They are not included in the scheduling. All fenceposts and sheep troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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.

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Books and journals
Annable, F K, 'The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in Excavation And Field Work In Wiltshire 1957, , Vol. 57, (1957), 10


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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