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Compton Dundon hillfort with Dundon Beacon, east of Dundon

A Scheduled Monument in Compton Dundon, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0868 / 51°5'12"N

Longitude: -2.7371 / 2°44'13"W

OS Eastings: 348470.145899

OS Northings: 132196.955956

OS Grid: ST484321

Mapcode National: GBR MJ.CY2T

Mapcode Global: FRA 5647.ZD9

Entry Name: Compton Dundon hillfort with Dundon Beacon, east of Dundon

Scheduled Date: 14 June 1962

Last Amended: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014715

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22076

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Compton Dundon

Built-Up Area: Dundon

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort occupying the top of a hill
which projects into and above the south east side of the Somerset Levels. The
earthworks enclose the c.5ha of hill which is flat at the centre but rises at
its north and south ends. The plan of the fort is determined by the natural
contours of the hill. On the south east corner of the fort is a mound known as
Dundon Beacon, and running north from this is a well defined lynchet.

In the centre of the hill an irregular linear trench, 17m wide and up to 5m
deep, is orientated south west to north east across the interior of the fort
and marks the site of quarrying operations.

The defences around the fort vary from little more than a scarp to a 2m high
bank with a wide outer terrace, but on average consist of a bank 0.4m-1m high
with an external scarp in places. There may have been an entrance on the east
side but this has been obscured by the stone quarrying. At the north east end
of the trench the quarry extends through the defences removing a large section
of the rampart. The original ground surface survives across most of the fort.

The stone quarrying ceased in 1925 when stone was removed for the construction
of Beacon House to the south of the hill. It had reached its presently visible
extent by 1886, it must have been long established by that time.

Dundon Beacon at the south east corner of the fort is a mound on the highest
part of the fort, c.3m high and c.18m in diameter with a flat oval top. There
is a hollow to the west of the mound, 10m wide and 1.5m deep, which was one of
the sources of material for the beacon's mound. This hollow continues as a
shallow ditch 0.5m deep around the north side of the mound and cuts through
the ramparts, indicating that Dundon Beacon is later than the ramparts of the

Overlying the ditch is a sloping, flat topped, bank c.5m wide inclined towards
the mound which would have given access to the mound from the interior of the
fort. An excavation in c.1827 found an undated burial with tin rings and
fragments of pottery. It has been suggested that the mound is a Norman motte
constructed over a Bronze Age round barrow. The earthworks for the hillfort in
the area of Dundon Beacon are c.2m high internally and appear to have been
constructed from a 6m wide outer terrace. They are more substantial than the
rest of the ramparts, and add weight to the suggestion of a Norman re-working
of the defences in this area with the intention of creating a motte and bailey

Lynchets extend around the western, eastern and northern sides of the hill; of
these, the lynchet which runs north along the eastern side of the hill at the
base of the rampart is in the best condition. It has a gently sloping terrace
of up to 15m wide and a sharply defined steep scarp on the downhill side. The
northern end of the lynchet runs into the area of quarry disturbance and its
relationship to the rampart north of that point is uncertain. To the south it
extends around the base of the Dundon Beacon mound and merges with the slope
on the south east corner of the hillfort.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to
their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large
storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and
square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often
represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight
univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally.
Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of
the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is
relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the
Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within
the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh
Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Despite quarrying operations, Compton Dundon hillfort survives well and will
contain archaeological remains and environmental evidence relating to the
hillfort and the landscape in which it was constructed. Dundon Beacon, the
stone quarry and the lynchet running north from it form part of the monument,
and will provide evidence relating to its subsequent use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bothamley, C H, 'A History of the County of Somerset (Victoria County History)' in Compton Dundon Hillfort, (1911), 490-1
Bothamley, C H, 'A History of the County of Somerset (Victoria County History)' in Compton Dundon Hillfort, (1911), 490
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Smerset Archaeological and Nat.Hist Society' in Somerset Barrows Part 1, , Vol. 113, (1969), 18, 28
Comment to Alan Preece, Hollinrake, N, (1993)
Result of field visit, Preece, A, (1994)
Survey Report, RCHME, Dundon Hill Camp, Somerset, (1994)
Survey Report, RCHME, Dundon Hill Camp, Somerset, (1994)
Survey Report, RCHME, Dundon Hill Camp, Somerset, (1994)
Survey report, RCHME, Dundon Hill Camp, Somerset, (1994)
Survey report, RCHME, Dundon Hill Camp, Somerset, (1994)
Survey report, RCHME, Dundon Hill Camp, Somerset, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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