Ancient Monuments

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Iron Age settlement on Cow Down, 990m north west of Haycombe Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Sutton Veny, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.1638 / 51°9'49"N

Longitude: -2.1627 / 2°9'45"W

OS Eastings: 388716.433227

OS Northings: 140512.93679

OS Grid: ST887405

Mapcode National: GBR 1VM.S2D

Mapcode Global: VH97W.G0HP

Entry Name: Iron Age settlement on Cow Down, 990m north west of Haycombe Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 14 February 1955

Last Amended: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016676

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31676

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Sutton Veny

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: The Deverills and Horningsham

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes an Iron Age settlement 990m north west of Haycombe Hill
Farm on the top of Cow Down, a chalk hill on the eastern edge of the upper
reaches of the Wylye valley.
The monument has a flat `D' shaped area of 0.5ha enclosed by a ditch and
outer bank. The straight edge of the enclosed area is aligned approximately
north-south while the curved edge is a semicircle to the west of this. The
ditch is 5m wide and up to 1.3m deep. The bank is 5m wide and up to 0.5m high
on the curved edge while on the straight section to the east, it is lower and
up to 0.1m high. An entrance to the east consists of a causeway across the
ditch 3m wide.
Partial excavation of the site in 1957 revealed three concentric rings of post
holes interpreted as the foundations of a circular wooden hut measuring 11.5m
in diameter. Chalk loom weights were also found in the vicinity and early Iron
Age pottery was uncovered in the main ring of post holes and as a general
scatter across the site.
Two other Iron Age enclosures are recorded on Cow Down. These are circular and
excavation revealed house sites and storage pits. These have been reduced by
cultivation but remain visible as soil marks. They are not included in the
All fenceposts and sheep troughs are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath these features is included.

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 Iron Age settlement 990m north west of Haycombe Hill Farm survives well
and is a good, undamaged example of this rare type of monument. Partial
excavation has shown that it contains archaeological remains relating to the
people who built the monument including the foundations of a large circular

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Annable, F K, 'The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine' in Excavation And Field Work In Wiltshire 1957, , Vol. 57, (1957), 10

Source: Historic England

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