Romano-British settlement immediately south west of Camel Hill Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020936

Date first listed: 15-Jul-2003


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British settlement immediately south west of Camel Hill Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2019 at 22:24:48.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset (District Authority)

Parish: Queen Camel

National Grid Reference: ST 58473 25535


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

Reasons for Designation

Romano-British roadside settlements, as the name suggests, grew up alongside some of the major roads which were laid down following the Roman Conquest of AD43. These roads often had a military origin but later they connected the newly built Roman cities and towns which were the hallmark of Roman civilisation and which sprang forth in the decades following the Conquest when the Romanisation of the country was under way. Those areas most adapted to the Roman way of life saw increased prosperity based upon a market economy in which villas, farms, and towns all played their part. The ability to travel and communicate across the unified Roman province and the need to move and trade produce between towns was clearly important and roadside settlements offering overnight accommodation and facilities for changing horses or pack animals are known to have been in existence on Roman roads from early on in the Roman period. Other settlements between major towns are likely to have become trading posts or small market towns in their own right. Excavation of the roadside settlement at Fosse Lane, Shepton Mallet, in Somerset has produced evidence of a flourishing occupation by the fourth century which was taking advantage of its location between Bath and Ilchester. Further up the Fosse Way towards Bath, excavation of another roadside settlement at Camerton has revealed a scatter of buildings the majority of which are of stone and of simple rectangular plan. The most prosperous period for this type of settlement in the South West appears to have been in the third and fourth century. The Romano-British settlement immediately south west of Camel Hill Farm, although its full extent is not known, appears to parallel in style and date those roadside settlements excavated at Shepton Mallet and Camerton. The monument is known from partial excavation to preserve archaeological information which will be informative about the level of prosperity and the economy of the Romano-British period of the third and fourth centuries as well as providing insights into the lives of the inhabitants of the settlement.


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


The monument includes the recorded extent of a Romano-British settlement of late second/early third to fourth century AD date which is located just to the north of the modern A303 on Camel Hill. The settlement location commands extensive views in all directions particularly to the west where it overlooks the Somerset Levels. The site was first identified by a geophysical survey leading subsequently to archaeological excavation which revealed the presence of several Roman-style buildings and at least one cremation burial. Pottery evidence also revealed an occupation phase in the early Iron Age (perhaps seventh to sixth century BC) but no certain buildings associated with this earlier occupation were recorded. The excavation, in the form of evaluation trenches, was conducted in 1993 by Wessex Archaeology on an area adjacent to the A303 on its northern side. The A303 is believed to preserve the road line of the Roman road between Andover and Ilchester (Roman Lendiniae). The stone foundations of at least three buildings were recorded, one of which was of substantial construction with a recorded width of around 5.5m. The wall foundations were found to have survived in good condition and they were interpreted by the excavators as dwarf footings for timber-framed structures. The most extensive building exposed contained at least three rooms and an exterior metalled surface indicated the presence of a yard associated with one of the smaller buildings. In addition, a Romano-British cremation burial was encountered at the eastern end of the area explored by trenching. The cremated bone had been placed in a pottery vessel sealed by a limestone roofing tile and set within a small pit. The partial excavation at Camel Hill has demonstrated the presence of Roman buildings covering an area of at least 130m in length flanking the northern side of what is considered to be the route taken by a major Roman road leading into Ilchester; such occupation is usually indicative of a roadside settlement. This settlement lies only 7km north east of the Roman town of Ilchester upon which it may have been dependent for its economic survival. The density of the Romano-British rural settlement around Ilchester has long been known and research in the latter part of the 20th century has suggested that Ilchester, by the third century, may have become a subsidiary civitas capital (administrative centre) for an area occupying the former northern tribal territory of the Iron Age Durotriges in what is now Somerset. The earlier civitas capital of the Durotriges at Dorchester in Dorset appears to have continued to function in the same administrative role but perhaps for a smaller area from the third century onwards. It may be significant that the settlement at Camel Hill appears to commence fully in the third century during the period of Ilchester's suspected enhanced political status. All modern fencing and fence posts 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.


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

Legacy System number: 33061

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Leach, P, Roman Somerset, (2001), 52-83
Noel, M J, A303 Sparkford-Ilchester Road Improvement Geophysical Surveys, 1993, GeoQuest Associates, unpub report
Wessex Archaeology: report W530.02, Coe, D and Seager-Smith, R and Newman, R, A303 Sparkford-Ilchester Road Improvement Archaeological Eval, (1993)

End of official listing