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Somerset Historic Environment Record

43399

Site Name: Norton Camp hillfort, Norton Fitzwarren
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Norton Camp large univallate hillfort [No:24022]
Civil Parish: Norton Fitzwarren
Comprises:
PRN 15708Fieldwalking (1991), Norton Fitzwarren hillfort
PRN 16728Watching brief (2004), Norton Hillfort
PRN 22831Quarry or pond, NE of Norton Camp, Norton Fitzwarren
PRN 44292Handaxe find, Norton Hillfort, Norton Fitzwarren
PRN 44795Excavation (1968-71), Norton Hill, Norton Fitzwarren
PRN 44796Excavation (1908), Norton Hillfort, Norton Fitzwarren
Grid Ref: ST 1962 2626 (ST 12 NE)
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Image: Image of HER 43399 - Photo by Somerset County Council (1990)
  HER 43399 - Photo by Somerset County Council (1990)

Public access:

As far as we are aware this site lies on land that is open to the public (The interior is under cultivation and is not accessible). [Information last updated on 03 January 2007]

Details:

A hill-top contour fort enclosing c5.2ha with three entrances, each a deep hollow way. Bidgood in 1850 described an inner and outer bank but Gray could not discern this in 1908, excavation suggesting it was natural in the only remaining section.

Other finds from the site include a neolithic axe, other flakes and scrapers and a C14 seal matrix. The camp now consists of a single rampart, the whole side mutilated extensively, the three holloways being very deep and wide. Excavations in 1968 and 1970 produced evidence of middle bronze age occupation. {1}

A badly damaged site with a gently domed interior under the plough and the defences overgrown and eroded. The defences are univalate and now consist of a scarp up to 3m high. On the west side is a slight bank which appears to be a counterscarp but has been shown to be bronze age in date. The three holloways are about 450m long and up to 6m deep at the inner end. {2}

Legendary associations with dragon which ravaged area. {3}

Cropmarks seen in interior. {4}

A series of single-ditched sub-rectangular enclosures recorded in the interior of the hillfort during a flight from Dunkeswell in 1979. {5}

An external bank is mentioned in 1850. {8}

Much of the ramparts are obscured by vegetation. A spring is enclosed within the rampart on the SE. {15}

Planning application for housing development adjacent to the site. {16}

Management plan agreed with creation of archaeological and nature trail. Involved fencing and the creation of a surfaced path adjacent to the Burnshill development, log steps and path through the woodland, clearance of dead trees and erection of stile and interpretation boards. {17}

Watching brief required when footpath ploughed up across site. {19}

Aerial photographs show clearly several internal features including subsidiary enclosures, holloways, and circular features (including concentric circles). {21}

Area enclosed is an elongated circle with the brow of the hill on the west and a small valley on the east. Approaching hollow ways end a short way inside gaps in the ramparts, and APs show that they formerly extended further into the interior That on the SW is broadest. In its original form the fort may have had a more usual arrangement of opposing east and west entrances. An early Neolithic presence is indicated, and a possible henge to the N (PRN 44211) hints at the area being a ritual centre. In the middle Bronze Age an enclosure of Ram's Hill type was constructed around the top of the hill. Such enclosures are rare and evidence suggests that they were important sites on the boundary of several ecological zones and socio-political groups. The present fort was constructed in the later Iron Age, and lay on the border between two tribal areas, perhaps providing a contact point. The ditch was recut close to the time of the Roman invasion. The sunken ways date from the late Iron Age to early RB, and are unusual or unique on a site of this size. Smaller similar features in Cornwall are interpreted as droveways into the fort. The hillfort was occupied into the early RB period but seems to have been abandoned by c AD100. Seems to have been an important 'central place' from Neolithic to RB times. Local folklore that "When Taunton was a furzey down, Norton was a market town" On the NE of the fort 15m from the rampart is a circular hollow 25m across, put forward as a Roman amphitheatre in 1872, but since regarded as natural.

A handaxe was discovered in 1981 (PRN 44292). {22}

Scheduling revised with new national number on 1 August 1994 (was Somerset 96) {23}

Generally the monument is in good condition with the exception of some badger damage. The interior continues to be ploughed. {25}

Aerial photographs taken between 1989 and 1991 in particular show numerous internal features visible as cropmarks. Although conditions were clearly good for cropmark formation, the oblique views available are not conducive to confident transcription, particularly for the central and southern parts of the interior. Thus sitings are approximate and some detail is likely to have been missed. In addition, more recent agricultural features, primarily relating to field drainage, serve to obscure things further. In addition, it is not possible to identify any of the observed cropmarks with features excavated in 1968-71.

At least 5 circular or sub-circular ditched features are visible - at ST 19622617, ST 19552627, ST 19542632, ST 19572635 and ST 19642636. These range in size from circa 12 metres across to circa 18 metres. While they may represent the ditches surrounding plough-levelled round barrows, their size suggests that in many cases they may represent the locations of round houses. The fact that most, if not all, are penannular might support this suggestion. A subrectangular ditched enclosure (plus associated features) measuring about 30 metres by 25 metres, with an east- facing entrance, is located just inside the northern rampart at ST 19602634. Numerous other linear and angled featuresare also visible, but do not clearly resolve themselves into clear arrangements. A curvilinear cropmark noted by Ellis circa 100 metres to the north of the hillfort and apparently concentric to it is visible on a number of aie photographs from 1947 onwards and represents former field boundaries {26}

References:

1 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 12 NE 1 (1971) Location: HER files. HER digital source: 2241.
2 Description - Burrow, I. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD.  (1981), 213-14. British Archaeological Reports 91.
3 Mention - Grinsell, LV. Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain.  (1976), 99.
4 Aerial photographs - Aston, M. (2/7/1976) 5 monochrome prints plus 6 undated prints. Location: HER files.
5 Mention - Burrow, I. Cropmarks. In Burrow, I and Minnitt, S and Murless, B. Somerset Archaeology 1979. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History124 (1980), 111-140 at 124
6 Description - Dymond, CW. Norton Camp. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  18 (1872), 43-46
7 Description - Bidgood, W. Norton Camp. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  44 (1898), 198-202
8 Description - Warre, F. Ancient earth-work at Norton Fitz-warren. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  1 (1850), 38-47 Copy available in SANHS library at Somerset Heritage Centre.
9 Mention - Bidgood, W. Norton Camp. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  44 (1893), 198-202 Copy available in SANHS library at Somerset Heritage Centre.
10 Mention - Page, W. Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 2 (1911), 511.
11 Museum accession number - TTNCM A455. Stored at Somerset County Museum at Somerset Heritage Centre
12 Museum accession number - TTNCM A456. Stored at Somerset County Museum at Somerset Heritage Centre
13 Museum accession number - TTNCM 68A8. Stored at Somerset County Museum at Somerset Heritage Centre
14 Museum accession number - TTNCM A939. Stored at Somerset County Museum at Somerset Heritage Centre
15 Detailed records - Various. Department of the Environment and English Heritage (1980s) Location: HER collections.
16 Correspondence - Somerset County Council to English Heritage. (July 1980) Location: HER files.
17 Correspondence - Somerset County Council to Taunton Deane Borough Council. (October 1982) Location: HER files.
18 Sketch plan - Somerset County Council. 1:1250 archaeological and nature trail management. Drawing HBC 4/25/3 (microfilm). Location: HER collections
19 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council. (31/1/1986) Location: HER files.
20 Aerial photographs - SCC Planning Department OAP ST1926.1.1-3 July 1976
21 Aerial photographs - DAP MV6, QZ3-10, RB15, RJ1-4, RU5-8, UK7-10. (1991) Location: HER digital information, prints in archive at Somerset Heritage Centre.
22 Detailed records - Preece, A. Norton Camp large univallate hillfort.  (15/10/1993) unpublished Monuments Protection Programme report for English Heritage. Location: HER files. HER digital source: 24076.
23 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council. (17/8/1994) with schedule entry and map. Location: HER files. HER digital source: 13687.
24 Aerial photographs - DAP XR17-21. (1995) Location: HER digital information, prints in archive at Somerset Heritage Centre.
25 Detailed records - Graham, A [Alan]. English Heritage Field Monument Warden (20/4/1998) Location: HER files.
26 Data transfer - National Monuments Record (English Heritage). Record ID: ST 12 NE 1 (14/8/2002)
27 Description - Hawkins, S.C. A Conservation Plan for Norton Camp Norton Fitzwarren near Taunton.  (April 2003) unpublished MA coursework. Location: HER files.

Record created in August 1983

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