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Romano-British settlement immediately south west of Camel Hill Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Queen Camel, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.0277 / 51°1'39"N

Longitude: -2.5936 / 2°35'37"W

OS Eastings: 358463.338374

OS Northings: 125534.449445

OS Grid: ST584255

Mapcode National: GBR MQ.HJQV

Mapcode Global: FRA 56GD.FCT

Entry Name: Romano-British settlement immediately south west of Camel Hill Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020936

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33061

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Queen Camel

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes the recorded extent of a Romano-British settlement
of late second/early third to fourth century AD date which is located just
to the north of the modern A303 on Camel Hill. The settlement location
commands extensive views in all directions particularly to the west where
it overlooks the Somerset Levels.
The site was first identified by a geophysical survey leading subsequently
to archaeological excavation which revealed the presence of several
Roman-style buildings and at least one cremation burial. Pottery evidence
also revealed an occupation phase in the early Iron Age (perhaps seventh
to sixth century BC) but no certain buildings associated with this earlier
occupation were recorded. The excavation, in the form of evaluation
trenches, was conducted in 1993 by Wessex Archaeology on an area adjacent
to the A303 on its northern side. The A303 is believed to preserve the
road line of the Roman road between Andover and Ilchester (Roman
Lendiniae). The stone foundations of at least three buildings were
recorded, one of which was of substantial construction with a recorded
width of around 5.5m. The wall foundations were found to have survived in
good condition and they were interpreted by the excavators as dwarf
footings for timber-framed structures. The most extensive building exposed
contained at least three rooms and an exterior metalled surface indicated
the presence of a yard associated with one of the smaller buildings. In
addition, a Romano-British cremation burial was encountered at the eastern
end of the area explored by trenching. The cremated bone had been placed
in a pottery vessel sealed by a limestone roofing tile and set within a
small pit.
The partial excavation at Camel Hill has demonstrated the presence of
Roman buildings covering an area of at least 130m in length flanking the
northern side of what is considered to be the route taken by a major Roman
road leading into Ilchester; such occupation is usually indicative of a
roadside settlement. This settlement lies only 7km north east of the Roman
town of Ilchester upon which it may have been dependent for its economic
survival. The density of the Romano-British rural settlement around
Ilchester has long been known and research in the latter part of the 20th
century has suggested that Ilchester, by the third century, may have
become a subsidiary civitas capital (administrative centre) for an area
occupying the former northern tribal territory of the Iron Age Durotriges
in what is now Somerset. The earlier civitas capital of the Durotriges at
Dorchester in Dorset appears to have continued to function in the same
administrative role but perhaps for a smaller area from the third century
onwards. It may be significant that the settlement at Camel Hill appears
to commence fully in the third century during the period of Ilchester's
suspected enhanced political status.
All modern fencing and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Romano-British roadside settlements, as the name suggests, grew up
alongside some of the major roads which were laid down following the Roman
Conquest of AD43. These roads often had a military origin but later they
connected the newly built Roman cities and towns which were the hallmark
of Roman civilisation and which sprang forth in the decades following the
Conquest when the Romanisation of the country was under way. Those areas
most adapted to the Roman way of life saw increased prosperity based upon
a market economy in which villas, farms, and towns all played their part.
The ability to travel and communicate across the unified Roman province
and the need to move and trade produce between towns was clearly important
and roadside settlements offering overnight accommodation and facilities
for changing horses or pack animals are known to have been in existence on
Roman roads from early on in the Roman period. Other settlements between
major towns are likely to have become trading posts or small market towns
in their own right. Excavation of the roadside settlement at Fosse Lane,
Shepton Mallet, in Somerset has produced evidence of a flourishing
occupation by the fourth century which was taking advantage of its
location between Bath and Ilchester. Further up the Fosse Way towards
Bath, excavation of another roadside settlement at Camerton has revealed a
scatter of buildings the majority of which are of stone and of simple
rectangular plan. The most prosperous period for this type of settlement
in the South West appears to have been in the third and fourth century.
The Romano-British settlement immediately south west of Camel Hill Farm,
although its full extent is not known, appears to parallel in style and
date those roadside settlements excavated at Shepton Mallet and Camerton.
The monument is known from partial excavation to preserve archaeological
information which will be informative about the level of prosperity and
the economy of the Romano-British period of the third and fourth centuries
as well as providing insights into the lives of the inhabitants of the
settlement.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Leach, P, Roman Somerset, (2001), 52-83
Other
Noel, M J, A303 Sparkford-Ilchester Road Improvement Geophysical Surveys, 1993, GeoQuest Associates, unpub report
Wessex Archaeology: report W530.02, Coe, D and Seager-Smith, R and Newman, R, A303 Sparkford-Ilchester Road Improvement Archaeological Eval, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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