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Iron Age defended settlement, Furzebury Brake

A Scheduled Monument in Minehead Without, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.2239 / 51°13'26"N

Longitude: -3.5252 / 3°31'30"W

OS Eastings: 293588.493252

OS Northings: 148299.17501

OS Grid: SS935482

Mapcode National: GBR LG.32RX

Mapcode Global: VH5JX.VH7L

Entry Name: Iron Age defended settlement, Furzebury Brake

Scheduled Date: 4 April 1949

Last Amended: 19 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008809

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24031

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Minehead Without

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes a small univallate enclosure representing an Iron Age
defended settlement, situated on a slight knoll at the end of a ridge. The
ground slopes away to the cliffs above the Bristol Channel to the north, and
to the edge of a steep combe on the east and south.
The enclosure is oval-shaped, with an internal area of 0.22ha. It is enclosed
by a bank up to 0.5m high internally and a ditch up to 0.5m deep, which are
heightened by the slope to form a defence of up to 1.8m high. The earthworks
have been much damaged so that the bank is missing in places and the ditch
only faintly visible except on the east.
Of the three breaks in the rampart, that to the north appears most likely to
be original, whilst those on the north east and west are probably later.
The interior of the enclosure is naturally higher than the surrounding ground,
but slopes down to the north, leaving the highest point of the knoll slightly
off-centre in the south east of the enclosure. This appears to have been
levelled, creating a vaguely circular platform of about half the diameter of
the enclosure.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern fence posts, although the ground
beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were
constructed and occupied in south-western England. At the top of the
settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition
to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also
constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent
positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an
enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen
construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate
sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second
phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where
excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the
enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied
by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group.
Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element
of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south-western
England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified
settlements during this period. All well-preserved examples are likely to be
identified as nationally important.

The enclosure on Furzebury Brake survives as a good example of its class, and
despite damage to the ramparts will contain archaeological deposits relating
to its construction and use, and to the occupation of the interior.

Source: Historic England

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