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Camp Hill promontory fort and Romano-British temple complex

A Scheduled Monument in Lydney, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7219 / 51°43'18"N

Longitude: -2.5573 / 2°33'26"W

OS Eastings: 361598.066521

OS Northings: 202719.506451

OS Grid: SO615027

Mapcode National: GBR JS.2MFY

Mapcode Global: VH879.MZDD

Entry Name: Camp Hill promontory fort and Romano-British temple complex

Scheduled Date: 5 January 1927

Last Amended: 17 May 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017373

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28870

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Lydney

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Lydney St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes a prehistoric promontory fort within which was later
built a Romano-British temple, a courtyard house, a bath suite and a further
long narrow building at the southern edge of a promontory overlooking the
floodplain of the River Severn. The sequence of building and occupation on the
site has been outlined by Wheeler in his summary to his excavations of 1928-9.
The promontory fort was established shortly before the first century BC.
During the second and third centuries AD the fort was occupied by a Romano-
British population engaged, at least partly, in iron mining. Soon after
AD 364-7 a temple, dedicated to the god Nodens, was built within the fort, and
associated with this were a guest house, known as a mansio, baths and other
Modifications to these buildings were undertaken after AD 367. At about the
end of the fourth century the buildings were surrounded by a precinct wall.
The final phase of occupation, thought to be in the fifth and sixth centuries,
is represented by a reinforcement of the prehistoric earthwork.
The promontory fort is aligned north-south, with steep natural defences on
the south, west and east sides. The west side of the hillfort has a low bank,
about 0.2m-0.5m high with stone protruding, indicating wall footings within
the bank. On the east side there are two banks. The internal bank stands to
about 2m high and runs in a straight line north-south. The outer bank here
also stands to 2m and follows the contours of the hill. Iron Age defences at
the southern end of the fort appear to have been disturbed by Romano-British
construction of the entrance to the temple complex. At the northern end of the
fort, where there are no natural defences, there are two sets of banks and
ditches. The inner bank stands to about 2m high, with a ditch to its north 3m
wide. From the bottom of this ditch the outer bank rises to 2m high with a
further ditch to its north, 1.5m deep and 2m wide. The north west corner of
the northern defences have been disturbed by iron extraction pits, and there
are further pits on the eastern side of the interior of the fort, one of which
is a shaft 1m square and of unknown depth. These pits range in size from the
smaller one, 3m in diameter and 1m deep, to larger ones up to 16m in diameter
by 1m deep. Towards the southern end of the hillfort an enclosure was created
in the Romano-British period centred on the temple, with an entrance in the
south east corner.
The temple has been partially reconstructed, with walls standing to about 0.5m
high, and its plan can be seen on the ground. It measures 18m by 24m with
projecting bays in the outer wall. The main entrance is on the south east
side. There are seven bays on the outer wall along which ran a stone bench.
The central part of the temple, called the cella, had six piers with three
shrines at the north west end. Later modifications took place including the
addition of enclosing walls in front of three bays, and a wall between the
piers of the cella. Some mosaics were laid at this time including one in the
cella carrying the dedication to Nodens.
To the north west of the temple is a long building, aligned north east-south
west which forms the lower north west side of the temple enclosure. It is 56m
long with a range of rooms, some of which had mosaics, opening onto a verandah
or corridor. It is thought that it was used to house visitors to the temple.
At the north east end of this long building is the bath building, which is 40m
long. It is reconstructed in plan on the ground, with walls standing up to 1m
high, and shows the usual progression of rooms with pools of increasing
temperature. There is a latrine present, and 35m to the north east is a stone
built tank, 5.8m square, which supplied water to the baths. To the east of the
baths is a large building 40.5m by 48.7m aligned north east-south west, now
under grass. It consists of three wings around a central courtyard and a large
hall on the fourth side. The north east and north west wings comprise living
rooms. On the south east side is a long room with a monumental gateway which
is thought to have been used for delivery of goods by cart and waggons. The
south west side of the building consists of a long hall, 26m long and 4.7m
wide internally, which is considered to have carried an upper storey. This
building is thought to have been a mansio providing further accommodation for
visitors to the temple.
Many small objects were found both during Wheeler's excavation in 1928-9 and
from earlier diggings, including bracelets, pins, spoons, coins and votive
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the notice
boards, post and rail fences, temporary game feeders and the wooden cover of
the mine shaft, although the ground beneath these features is included. The
cement seating surrounding the wooden mine shaft cover is included within the

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

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally
defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more
earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it
from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by
steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings
defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches
formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected
along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an
entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively
for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone-
walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings
used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally
Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth
century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with
other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status,
probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest
that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display
as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded
examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of
the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all
examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally

Camp Hill promontory fort at Lydney is a good example of its type with well
defined defences. The site survives well and has potential for further
investigation of Iron Age settlement within its boundary, and the defences
themselves will provide information on the construction of this type of fort.
In addition the site will contain archaeological information and environmental
evidence relating to the fort and the wider landscape.
The promontory fort was also the site of a Romano-British settlement centred
on iron mines which were dug within the confines of the fort. Similar iron
mining is found more generally in the Forest of Dean, but it is rare for it to
be dated as precisely as the workings within Camp Hill.
In the fourth century a Romano-Celtic temple was built on the site. Romano-
Celtic temples, including the temple building and its surrounding sacred
precinct, were built and used throughout the Roman period, and were widespread
throughout southern and eastern England, although there are no examples in the
far south west. They are rare nationally with only about 150 sites recorded in
England. As part of the buildings supplying the needs of visitors to the
temple, a bath house was constructed within the precinct at Lydney. The bath
house was one of the principal public buildings of a Roman settlement and the
practice of communal bathing was an integral part of Roman life. As such the
public bath house served an important function as a place for relaxation and
social congregation as well as exercise and hygiene.
Bath houses varied in size and plan, but all consisted of a series of rooms of
graded temperature containing a variety of plunge baths. Bath houses could
also include changing rooms, latrines, sauna and massage rooms, and were often
linked to an exercise area. The bath house was heated by an underground
hypocaust heating system, and was also linked to and dependant on, an
engineered water supply.
Also present at Lydney to serve the needs of the visitors to the temple was a
mansio. Mansiones were substantial, mostly masonry, buildings of varying size
and plan providing facilities, including accommodation and stabling, for
travellers. Few examples are known nationally and the example at Lydney, with
its association with the temple complex, is one of the few such buildings
which can be identified with certainty.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
McWhirr A, , Roman Gloucestershire, (1981), 106-7
McWhirr A, , Roman Gloucestershire, (1981), 153-155
McWhirr A, , Roman Gloucestershire, (1981), 153-4
McWhirr A, , Roman Gloucestershire, (1981), 154-55
Wheeler, R E M, Wheeler, T V, Excavations at Lydney Park Gloucestershire, (1932), 1
Wheeler, R E M, Wheeler, T V, Excavations at Lydney Park Gloucestershire, (1932), 1

Source: Historic England

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