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Somerset Historic Environment Record

23849

Site Name: Kingsdown Camp, Mells Down, Mells
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Kingsdown camp, Mells Down [No:143]
Civil Parish: Mells
Grid Ref: ST 7188 5172 (ST 75 SW)
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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:

Small iron age earthwork enclosure refortified in the late C1-C2. {1}

Small univallate enclosure with further earthworks around. The whole area is under pasture. The main enclosure is a rough quadrilateral with an entrance to the north-east. The bank is up to 0.75m high with an external ditch surviving on the west and north about 0.25m deep. From the north-east entrance a low causeway runs north-east as far as a sinuous bank which runs from north-south across the ridge east of the enclosure. This bank is about 0.3m high and 3m wide. From the north-west side of the enclosure a low bank 0.2m high runs north-west to the road and then turns at right angles to the south-west. Other slight earthworks are visible in the area. {2}

Site ploughed inside and out and some of the banks and ditches are not under crops. Unploughed bank now stands 25m from the fence to the N and 30m from the wood to the S although it can still be seen under the crop. Inner bank running E-W across the site is now ploughed over but can still be made out. In the centre of the camp lies a square enclosure with a bank of dry stone 4.5m wide and 1m high. An external ditch 3.5m wide and 0.75m deep survives only on the NE. Entrance in the E side of the enclosure bank is possibly original. {5}

Preliminary excavations were undertaken in very wet conditions in 1927. {6}

Excavated in 1927-9 by H. St. G Gray. The defences consisted of a pre-Flavian dry stone wall and "V" shaped outer ditch, with a pre-Belgic Belgic inner ditch. Roman occupation ceased about the mid C2. Two paved entrances were found, the original to the SSE and the Roman to the NE, where two post holes of a gate were revealed. The inner ditch produced a quantity of Hod Hill type brooches (cAD40-50), hearths and finds of Lake Village type, including two currency bars and bone needles. Also found were an iron dagger (La Tene II), a Dobunnic silver coin (Eisn), an as of Domitian, two Dupondii of Hadrian, pre-conquest and Roman pottery. A feature of the inner ditch was a number of burials relating to Roman occupation. The outer ditch, on pottery evidence, very probably dates to the Claudius-Nero period. Various mounds and banks in the area of the camp were examined, but their purposes were not determined. They are composed, very largely, of local stone. Roman sherds and flint flakes were found, also a probably re-interred skeleton and considerable amount of iron slag. {7}

All the finds are at the Somerset County Museum. {8}

Said to be the site of a battle in which two kings were slain. Burials in large barrow nearby, now levelled. {9}

Fourteen pieces of flint were collected on 2 March 1997 from mole hills in the same field as Kingsdown Camp. Pieces included a broken scraper and burnt flint. Also found was one piece of iron age pottery. {11}

All in good condition in grass that is mown for silage or hay although there is some weed growth on the steeper slopes that are not mown. {12}

Fourteen pieces of flint were discovered in molehills in the same field as Kingsdown Camp. Included were a broken scraper and burnt flint. One piece of iron age pottery was also discovered. {13}

References:

1 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 75 SW 4 (1978) Location: HER files.
2 Description - Burrow, I. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD.  (1981) British Archaeological Reports 91.
3 Mention - Page, W. Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 2 (1911), 524-27.
4 Mention - Collinson, J. The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 2 (1791), 462.
5 Detailed records - Entry found in HER database with no supporting documentation - entry just said 'in SMR file' where nothing was found. This is believed to have been a note that was typed up and then discarded. Location: Unknown or non-existant.
6 Description - Gray, H St G. Kingsdown Camp, Somerset, 1927. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  73:2 (1927), 130-32. Copy available in Local Studies collection at Somerset Heritage Centre.
7 Excavation report - Gray, H St G. Excavations at Kingsdown Camp, Mells, Somerset, 1927-9. Archaeologia  80 (1930), 59-98 Copy available in Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society library at Somerset Heritage Centre
8 Museum accession number - TTNCM A.421 and A.422. Stored at Somerset County Museum at Somerset Heritage Centre
9 Mention - Grinsell, L.V 1976 "Folklore of Prehistoric Britain", 99
10 Sketch plan - Victoria County History of Somerset 1911 vol 2, 527
11 Detailed records - Lewis, J. Kingsdown Camp, Buckland Dinham.  (15/4/1997) Location: HER files.
12 Site visit report - Graham, A [Alan]. English Heritage Field Monument Warden (12/6/2000) Location: HER files.
13 Description - Lewis, J and Mullin, D. Buckland Dinham, Kingsdown Camp. In Webster, CJ and Croft, RA. Somerset Archaeology 1997. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  141 (1997), 171-192 at 177.

Record created in August 1985

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