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Somerset Historic Environment Record

23564

Site Name: Ponters Ball (linear earthwork), Havyatt
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Ponters Ball linear earthwork [No:402]
Civil Parish: Glastonbury
Comprises:
PRN 16693Excavation (1970), Ponters Ball, Havyatt, Glastonbury
PRN 18402Excavation (1909), Ponters Ball, Havyatt
Grid Ref: ST 5346 3822 (ST 53 NW)
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Public access:

The public accessibility of this site is unknown but it should be visible from a public right of way. Please assume that the site is private property. [Information last updated on 17 December 2002]

Details:

Linear earthwork about 15ft high and ditched on the E. Probably formed a defensive barrier continuous with the "New Ditch" earthwork 3 miles to the SW. {1}

Sectioned by Bulleid in 1909, see PRN 18402. {2}

The earthwork is similar to New Ditch but of more formidable construction. Gap through which the modern road passes appears to be original. Excavation in 1970 (PRN 16693) appears to date Ponter's Ball, at least at the point examined, to the C12 or later. {3}

Radford suggests Ponter's Ball as part of a great Celtic sanctuary, probably C3BC. {4}

Could also be sub Roman and connected with the Dark Age occupation on Glastonbury Tor. {5}

The dyke crosses the E-W ridge from Glastonbury to Pennard at a point where it rises slightly with a lower "saddle" to the W. Very gentle slopes down to the N and S. The dyke is highest where the modern road runs through and this, together with the staggered junction on each side of the road, suggests the gap is original and the most important part. N of the road the dyke is of well rounded appearance. Prominent from both the W and E. Wide ditch and no counterscarp. Some slumping and disturbance on the E face. Buff clay beneath a thin topsoil has been exposed by cattle poaching near the N end. For the last 50m the bank and ditch decrease in regularity and amplitude, finally fading out at the hedge with the real trace of it beyond. Generally well preserved. To the S of the road the dyke is rather sinuous and gradually decreasing in height. The ditch is much less evident and the bank is rather spread. Runs down very gradual sloping ground and the exact terminal is difficult to see. {7}

The earthwork appears to end, both to N and S, about the 32ft contour. It may continue further under later alluvial deposits. But if it originally ended where it does now it may have been used and constructed at a time when the sea or marsh level had reached this height. It can hardly be regarded as a defensive work like the rampart of a hillfort - the area defended is too large, the earthwork too long and would be easily bypassed. Must be seen as a territorial earthwork, either for political or stock protection purposes, or even a religious boundary marking the units of prehistoric sacred area. {9}

The monument is, in general, stable under good grass cover but some scrub growth is evident to the S of the road. {10}

References:

1 Mention - Page, W. Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 2 (1911), 523-4.
2 Mention - Anon. Ponter's Ball. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  72 (1926), lvii-lviii (page lvii-lviii)
3 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 1978 ST53NW3 (SCC Planning Department)
4 Mention - Radford, CAR. Glastonbury Abbey (1966 ), 3-4
5 Mention - Rahtz, P et al. Medieval sites in the Mendip, Cotswold, Wye Valley and Brstol Region. Bristol Archaeological Research Group field guides no 3, 9
6 Mention - Fowler, PJ (ed). Archaeology and the Landscape (1972), 199
7 Site visit report - Burrow, I (8.11.1979) in HER files
8 Mention - Rahtz, P. Excavations on Glastonbury Tor, Somerset 1964-6. Archaeological Journal (1971), 4
9 Description - Rahtz, P. Glastonbury (1993), 23-28
10 Detailed records - Graham, A [Alan]. English Heritage Field Monument Warden (5/8/1998) Location: HER files.

Record created in May 1985

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