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Iron Age fortified enclosure known as Salmonsbury Camp

A Scheduled Monument in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.8858 / 51°53'8"N

Longitude: -1.7488 / 1°44'55"W

OS Eastings: 417385.853595

OS Northings: 220833.962152

OS Grid: SP173208

Mapcode National: GBR 4QF.NPP

Mapcode Global: VHB1W.MVVQ

Entry Name: Iron Age fortified enclosure known as Salmonsbury Camp

Scheduled Date: 25 April 1934

Last Amended: 21 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017340

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32392

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Bourton-on-the-Water

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Bourton-on-the-Water with Clapton St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes the known surviving extent of the Iron Age fortified
settlement which lies in an open valley immediately to the east of the town of
Bourton-on-the-Water. The fortified site covers an area of approximately 23ha
and lies on a gravel terrace between the Rivers Dikler and Windrush.
The camp is rectilinear in form and defended by a double rampart, each bank
having an external ditch. These defences are visible as earthworks on the
north, east and south sides of the enclosure where they survive to a height of
up to 2m. On the western side the line of the defences has been obscured, and
probably destroyed by building works. Two original entrances into the camp
have been identified, one in the centre of the northern side, which is still
visible, and the other in the centre of the west side of the defences, which
has been built over. On the eastern side of the enclosure, extensions in the
form of banks with external ditches project for about 150m eastwards from the
north east and south east corners of the enclosure. These extensions define an
annexe of about 6ha, flanking a naturally marshy area near the River Dikler.
The first plan of Salmonsbury Camp was produced in 1840 by Sir Henry Dryden
and W Lukis. In 1881 the entire circuit of the defences could still be traced
and masonry was noted in the main rampart, which stood to a height of 2m at
that time. A series of excavations was undertaken by Dunning between 1931 and
1934, and revealed evidence for pre-Iron Age, Iron Age and Roman occupation of
the camp, as well as Anglo-Saxon activity within the general vicinity.
Pre-Iron Age activity was represented by the presence of a Palaeolithic
tranchet axe, numerous flint flakes, several arrowheads and sporadic finds of
Peterborough ware pottery of Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age date. Dunning
believed that his excavations of 1931 revealed two phases of Iron Age
occupation, the first of which preceded the construction of the defences, and
which he dated to the later first century BC. The second phase of occupation
corresponded with the construction of the defensive enclosure and was dated to
the first half of the first century AD. Both phases revealed evidence for
occupation in the form of round houses, rubbish pits, pottery and metalwork,
including a hoard of 147 currency bars found in 1860.
Roman occupation within the defended enclosure at Salmonsbury dates from the
later 1st century to the early 4th century AD, during which time the defences
to the east appear to have been reduced, possibly to aid the cultivation which
was taking place within the area. Although there is no evidence for Anglo-
Saxon occupation within the area of the camp, several burials have been
found dug into the ramparts and two small cemeteries have also been
discovered, one close to the northern rampart and the second close to the
south east corner of the enclosure. It is also clear that the camp retained
considerable significance for the local community, as it is recorded as
`Sulmonnes Burg' in a charter of Offa of Mercia dated AD 779, and the courts
of the Liberty or Hundred of Salmonsbury traditionally assembled at the
northern entrance to the enclosure throughout the medieval period.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduing; these are the houses and
outbuildings of the properties known as Avilon, Bury Close and Woodlands
House, Camp House, Burghfields Cottage, Bury Barn Cottage and Greystones Farm,
the roads and tracks known as Moor Lane, Greystones Lane and the track running
south from Greystones Farm, Cemetery Lane, and all boundary walls, fences and
pavements. The ground beneath all these features is, however, included.
The modern cemetery and an area around Burghfields House are totally excluded
from the scheduling.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between
5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of
concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron
Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC
and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of
permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection
of the power struggle between competing elites.
Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have
ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances
although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may
comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts,
oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally
include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or
circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered,
for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as
raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain
evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include
platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens.
Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial
activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture
occurred on many sites.
Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded
nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh
Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere.
In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in
understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of
national importance.

The Iron Age fortified enclosure known as Salmonsbury Camp survives well and
despite some recent development along its western flank, a large area of the
monument remains undeveloped, ensuring the preservation of below ground
remains. Excavations have revealed that within the area of the camp, evidence
exists for settlement from the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age periods
through to the end of the Roman period. It is also clear that the camp
retained considerable significance for the local community throughout the
early medieval and medieval periods, as it is named as a landmark in Saxon
charters, gave its name to the Hundred in which Bourton-on-the-Water lies, and
was the place at which the Court of the Hundred met throughout that period.
Archaeological exploration has revealed that the buried deposits relating to
the sequence of occupation is both well preserved and of a considerable depth.
Investigations have also revealed evidence for the Iron Age defences which
have survived as below ground remains, as well as for settlement dating from
at least the first century BC to the fourth century AD. This evidence for
settlement takes the form of the buried remains of structures and features
such as ditches and pits, which will provide information about the use and
division of space, the density of occupation and the number of people who
might have lived within the fortified enclosure. Objects found within the area
of the camp also give an insight into the lives of the people who occupied the
site, and will include pottery, metalwork, coins, glass and worked stone which
might have been manufactured at the site or brought in from elsewhere. Organic
remains in the form of burnt grains and seeds will also have been preserved
within the archaeological deposits at Salmonsbury, and will give an insight
not only into the diet of the inhabitants of the area, but also into the wider
Salmonsbury Camp was reviewed as part of the Gloucestershire Historic Towns
Survey, and it has been suggested that it may have developed as a market
centre during the Iron Age, drawing people in to trade from the surrounding
area, and continued to fulfill a similar role during the Roman period,
complementing the activities of the Roman small town at Bourton Bridge, just
over 1km to the west.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Elrington, C R, The Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire - Slaughter Hundred, (1965), 35
Marshall, A, Magnetometer survey at Salmonsbury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Glos, (1995), 1-4
Meaney, A L S, Gazetteer of Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Sites, (1964), 93
Wymer, J J, Lower Palaeolithic Archaeology in Britain, (1968), 84
Dunning, G C, 'Hillforts: Later Prehistoric Earthworks in Britain and Ireland' in Salmonsbury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, (1976), 75-118
Dunning, G C, 'Hillforts: Later Prehistoric Earthworks in Britain and Ireland' in Salmonsbury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, (1976), 75-118
Dunning, G C, 'Hillforts: Later Prehistoric Earthworks in Britain and Ireland' in Salmonsbury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, (1976), 75-118
Dunning, G C, 'Hillforts: Later Prehistoric Earthworks in Britain and Ireland' in Salmonsbury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, (1976), 75-118

Source: Historic England

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