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Iron Age settlement and associated field system on Smedmore Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Church Knowle, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6165 / 50°36'59"N

Longitude: -2.0944 / 2°5'39"W

OS Eastings: 393417.841545

OS Northings: 79649.001348

OS Grid: SY934796

Mapcode National: GBR 33S.C94

Mapcode Global: FRA 67HF.XHL

Entry Name: Iron Age settlement and associated field system on Smedmore Hill

Scheduled Date: 14 January 1970

Last Amended: 2 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014835

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28322

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Church Knowle

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Church Knowle St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes an Iron Age aggregate village and associated field
system, situated on the upper part of Smedmore Hill, a north facing ridge of
the Isle of Purbeck.

The aggregate village and field system cover a total area of c.8.5ha. The
aggregate village extends over an area of c.1.2ha, although ploughing along
the northern and north eastern extremes has reduced the upstanding earthworks
to an area of 1ha. Traces of an outer bank occur intermittently around the
edge of the settlement. Sections of the bank are visible as earthworks 2m-3m
wide and c.0.75m-0.9m high to the south west, south and south east. The four
gaps within the bank are likely to represent entrances. Within the central
western area, a gap 35m wide is associated with banks which inturn to the
north and south and these may have served to direct stock movement into the
settlement. A second entrance, 3m wide, occurs to the north west and provided
access into the settlement via a trackway, aligned north west by south east.
The track leads to an enclosure with dimensions of 35m by 10m. An entrance 3m
wide on the south eastern side of this enclosure provided access into the
field system to the north east. This represents the only means of access to
the east. A final entrance occurs to the south, where a gap 5m wide occurs 20m
from the western end.

The interior of the settlement contains a densely clustered group of 15 small
enclosures, all terraced into the hillside utilising limestone rubble in
order to level the interiors. The plots are defined by rubble-built banks with
dimensions of between 1m-4m in width and c.0.25m-0.45m in height. These
enclose irregular areas of between 0.02ha to 0.08ha. Two of the enclosures are
associated with small mounds and others have short stretches of bank which
subdivide the interiors. A mound which occurs 3m to the south of the village
is composed of limestone rubble, aligned south west by north east, with
maximum dimensions of 7m in length, 5.5m in width and c.0.25m in height.

Archaeological investigations were conducted on the eastern side of the
settlement, during construction of a water pipe trench in 1956. These produced
Iron Age pottery and Romano-British material including samian and coarse
wares. Other finds included worked Kimmeridge shale debris and cores from
bracelet production.

The settlement is associated with a field system to the north east. Traces of
field banks were first recorded to the north east by the Royal Commission for
Historic Monuments (England) during the 1950s, while aerial photographic
evidence indicated traces of wider field system remains. The field banks to
the east of the village are composed of limestone rubble and have maximum
dimensions of 4m-8m in width and c.0.35m-0.5m in height. These lead towards an
enclosure or paddock situated 150m to the east. The enclosure has maximum
dimensions of 92m from east-west and 74m from north-south. To the north and
north east of the enclosure is a series of lynchets which occupy the south and
east facing slopes. The lynchets include terraces 18m-30m wide which are
likely to have been used for cultivation.

Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts and dry stone walling
relating to modern field boundaries, although the underlying ground is
included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Romano-British aggregate villages are nucleated settlements formed by groups
of five or more subsistence level farmsteads enclosed either indivdually or
collectively, or with no formal boundary. Most enclosures, where they occur,
are formed by curvilinear walls or banks, sometimes surrounded by ditches, and
the dwellings are usually associated with pits, stock enclosures, cultivation
plots and field systems, indicating a mixed farming economy. In use throughout
the Roman period (c.43-450 AD), they often occupied sites of earlier
agricultural settlements.
Romano-British aggregate villages are a very rare monument type with examples
recorded in the north of England and on the chalk downlands of Wessex and
Sussex. Their degree of survival will depend upon the intensity of subsequent
land use. In view of their rarity, all positively identified examples with
surviving remains are considered to merit protection.

Despite some ploughing, the aggregate village and associated field system on
Smedmore Hill survive well and are known from part excavation to contain
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the
landscape in which it was constructed. The monument is a rare and well
preserved example of its class.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509-10
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 510
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509-10
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509-10
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 509
Other
Aerial view of field sytem, Aerial view of field sytem,
Location of lynchets,
Mention archaeological investigations,
Possible enclosure within fieldsystem,
Shale working,
Size of enclosure within field system,
Size of terraces,
Total area of surviving village,
Total size of village/field system,
Types of pottery remains recovered,

Source: Historic England

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