Camp Hill promontory fort and Romano-British temple complex


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017373

Date first listed: 05-Jan-1927

Date of most recent amendment: 17-May-2000


Ordnance survey map of Camp Hill promontory fort and Romano-British temple complex
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Gloucestershire

District: Forest of Dean (District Authority)

Parish: Lydney

National Grid Reference: SO 61599 02729


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

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 important.

Camp Hill promontory fort at Lydney is a good example of its type with well defined defences. The site survives well and has potential for further investigation of Iron Age settlement within its boundary, and the defences themselves will provide information on the construction of this type of fort. In addition the site will contain archaeological information and environmental evidence relating to the fort and the wider landscape. The promontory fort was also the site of a Romano-British settlement centred on iron mines which were dug within the confines of the fort. Similar iron mining is found more generally in the Forest of Dean, but it is rare for it to be dated as precisely as the workings within Camp Hill. In the fourth century a Romano-Celtic temple was built on the site. Romano- Celtic temples, including the temple building and its surrounding sacred precinct, were built and used throughout the Roman period, and were widespread throughout southern and eastern England, although there are no examples in the far south west. They are rare nationally with only about 150 sites recorded in England. As part of the buildings supplying the needs of visitors to the temple, a bath house was constructed within the precinct at Lydney. The bath house was one of the principal public buildings of a Roman settlement and the practice of communal bathing was an integral part of Roman life. As such the public bath house served an important function as a place for relaxation and social congregation as well as exercise and hygiene. Bath houses varied in size and plan, but all consisted of a series of rooms of graded temperature containing a variety of plunge baths. Bath houses could also include changing rooms, latrines, sauna and massage rooms, and were often linked to an exercise area. The bath house was heated by an underground hypocaust heating system, and was also linked to and dependant on, an engineered water supply. Also present at Lydney to serve the needs of the visitors to the temple was a mansio. Mansiones were substantial, mostly masonry, buildings of varying size and plan providing facilities, including accommodation and stabling, for travellers. Few examples are known nationally and the example at Lydney, with its association with the temple complex, is one of the few such buildings which can be identified with certainty.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric promontory fort within which was later built a Romano-British temple, a courtyard house, a bath suite and a further long narrow building at the southern edge of a promontory overlooking the floodplain of the River Severn. The sequence of building and occupation on the site has been outlined by Wheeler in his summary to his excavations of 1928-9. The promontory fort was established shortly before the first century BC. During the second and third centuries AD the fort was occupied by a Romano- British population engaged, at least partly, in iron mining. Soon after AD 364-7 a temple, dedicated to the god Nodens, was built within the fort, and associated with this were a guest house, known as a mansio, baths and other structures. Modifications to these buildings were undertaken after AD 367. At about the end of the fourth century the buildings were surrounded by a precinct wall. The final phase of occupation, thought to be in the fifth and sixth centuries, is represented by a reinforcement of the prehistoric earthwork. The promontory fort is aligned north-south, with steep natural defences on the south, west and east sides. The west side of the hillfort has a low bank, about 0.2m-0.5m high with stone protruding, indicating wall footings within the bank. On the east side there are two banks. The internal bank stands to about 2m high and runs in a straight line north-south. The outer bank here also stands to 2m and follows the contours of the hill. Iron Age defences at the southern end of the fort appear to have been disturbed by Romano-British construction of the entrance to the temple complex. At the northern end of the fort, where there are no natural defences, there are two sets of banks and ditches. The inner bank stands to about 2m high, with a ditch to its north 3m wide. From the bottom of this ditch the outer bank rises to 2m high with a further ditch to its north, 1.5m deep and 2m wide. The north west corner of the northern defences have been disturbed by iron extraction pits, and there are further pits on the eastern side of the interior of the fort, one of which is a shaft 1m square and of unknown depth. These pits range in size from the smaller one, 3m in diameter and 1m deep, to larger ones up to 16m in diameter by 1m deep. Towards the southern end of the hillfort an enclosure was created in the Romano-British period centred on the temple, with an entrance in the south east corner. The temple has been partially reconstructed, with walls standing to about 0.5m high, and its plan can be seen on the ground. It measures 18m by 24m with projecting bays in the outer wall. The main entrance is on the south east side. There are seven bays on the outer wall along which ran a stone bench. The central part of the temple, called the cella, had six piers with three shrines at the north west end. Later modifications took place including the addition of enclosing walls in front of three bays, and a wall between the piers of the cella. Some mosaics were laid at this time including one in the cella carrying the dedication to Nodens. To the north west of the temple is a long building, aligned north east-south west which forms the lower north west side of the temple enclosure. It is 56m long with a range of rooms, some of which had mosaics, opening onto a verandah or corridor. It is thought that it was used to house visitors to the temple. At the north east end of this long building is the bath building, which is 40m long. It is reconstructed in plan on the ground, with walls standing up to 1m high, and shows the usual progression of rooms with pools of increasing temperature. There is a latrine present, and 35m to the north east is a stone built tank, 5.8m square, which supplied water to the baths. To the east of the baths is a large building 40.5m by 48.7m aligned north east-south west, now under grass. It consists of three wings around a central courtyard and a large hall on the fourth side. The north east and north west wings comprise living rooms. On the south east side is a long room with a monumental gateway which is thought to have been used for delivery of goods by cart and waggons. The south west side of the building consists of a long hall, 26m long and 4.7m wide internally, which is considered to have carried an upper storey. This building is thought to have been a mansio providing further accommodation for visitors to the temple. Many small objects were found both during Wheeler's excavation in 1928-9 and from earlier diggings, including bracelets, pins, spoons, coins and votive inscriptions. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the notice boards, post and rail fences, temporary game feeders and the wooden cover of the mine shaft, although the ground beneath these features is included. The cement seating surrounding the wooden mine shaft cover is included within the scheduling.

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: 28870

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
McWhirr A, , Roman Gloucestershire, (1981), 106-7
McWhirr A, , Roman Gloucestershire, (1981), 153-155
McWhirr A, , Roman Gloucestershire, (1981), 153-4
McWhirr A, , Roman Gloucestershire, (1981), 154-55
Wheeler, R E M, Wheeler, T V, Excavations at Lydney Park Gloucestershire, (1932), 1
Wheeler, R E M, Wheeler, T V, Excavations at Lydney Park Gloucestershire, (1932), 1

End of official listing