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Somerset Historic Environment Record

10115

Site Name: Hillfort, Brean Down
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Multi-period site on Brean Down [No:13811]
Civil Parish: Brean
Part of:
PRN 12514Multi-period site on Brean Down, Brean
Comprises:
PRN 17220Excavation (1974), Brean Down hillfort, Brean
Grid Ref: ST 298 589 (ST 25 NE)
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Image: Image of HER 10115 - View along rampart. Photo by Somerset County Council
  HER 10115 - View along rampart. Photo by Somerset County Council

Public access:

As far as we are aware all or part of this site is on National Trust land open to the public. [Information last updated on 12 December 2002]

Details:

At the E end of Brean Down a bank of stones 4-8ft high with an outer ditch, makes an angle, ending on the steep slope on the N and destroyed by quarrying on the E. {1}

In the C18-19, before quarrying, it was described as a square earthwork. {2}

Referred to as a hillfort, occupied by a derelict army camp, which may be connected with the Roman or post-Roman occupation of the temple site (PRN 10117). {3}

During quarrying a number of Roman finds were made including gold coins of Augustus, Nero, and Drusus, two silver denarii of Vespasian and a Roman cornelian ring. All are now dispersed. The principal feature of the earthwork is a bank and rock cut ditch running N-S across the ridge. At its S end the bank turns E and follows a natural fault line along the top of an outcrop. Some disturbance of the earthwork was caused by WWII military installations (see PRNs 12362, 12380). It is not a hillfort in the usually accepted Iron age fashion. {4}

A small excavation in 1974 disproved the proposed post-Roman date, see PRN 17220. {5}

There are no clear indications of defences on the N side, though they may have been destroyed The simple gap in the centre of the W side may be original but it is now occupied by a military road and is not mentioned in earlier accounts. {6}

Ditch 5m wide and 1.25m deep with a bank on the E side. This is 5m wide and 1.5m high, built of stone. The bank is topped by the remains of a drystone wall of large irregular blocks with only one course apparent. There is a small amount of bracken but generally free of vegetation. {7}

Rescheduled as part of larger area with new national number on 17/9/1993. Previously Somerset 217. {12}

References:

1 Mention - Victoria County History of Somerset 1911 vol. 2, 472
2 Mention - Phelps, W 1839 "History of Somerset" vol. 1, 134
3 Mention - ApSimon, AM. The Roman temple on Brean Down, Somerset: An interim report on the 1957 excavations. Proceedings of the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society  8:2 (1958), 106-109 (page 109). Copy available in Local Studies collection at Somerset Heritage Centre.. Available online.
4 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 1978 ST25NE1 (SCC Planning Department)
5 Verbal communication - Chris Webster, Somerset County Council (8/12/2004)
6 Mention - Burrow, I Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement..., BAR 91 (1981), 379-81
7 Detailed records - HBMC Field Monument Wardens report (SCC Planning Department)
8 Mention - Knight, F.A 1902 "Seaboard of Mendip", 298
9 Aerial photographs - WAP OAP BB1343.2 (not in (SCC Planning Department))
10 Mention - National Trust pamphlet (no date) "Brean Down", 15
11 Museum accession number - Weston-super-Mare museum
12 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council 11.10.93

Record created in December 1983

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