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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name:  King's Castle enclosures, iron age defended settlement, Wells

SCHEDULED MONUMENT:  King's Castle enclosures, Iron Age defended settlement [No:24024]

Civil Parish:  St. Cuthbert Out

Grid Ref:  ST 568 456 (ST 54 NE)  

The public accessibility of this site is unknown or has not been checked.

 Please ask locally and do not visit without permission. [Information last updated on 21 May 2003]

An unusual site consisting of a line of at least three conjoined stone-walled enclosures extending WSW along a ridge. The interior is overgrown, heavily wooded and quarried. The W enclosure is defined by a stone bank with ditch on E side, with a central causeway entrance. The S bank continues E to form the S sides of the middle and E enclosures, but at reduced scale.

The central enclosure is defined on the N by recent walling The E enclosure is defined on its W side by a bank with ditches on both sides. On the E side a bank with an internal ditch has a staggered junction with a bank running E, fading at the edge of wood. The form of the site suggests a multi-phase settlement with a field system extending to the E. {1}

Reports of hut circles are probably quarry pits.

Two connected enclosures separated by a partly open area, occupying the flat crest of a narrow elongated hill which is the western end of a ridge outlying the Mendip Hills. The site consists of a well-defined enclosure on the west tip of the hill,

 a larger less well-defined secondary enclosure on the east, and a similar sized area of land between the two, open-sided to the north. The main enclosure is of sub-circular plan, enclosed by a bank. Across the ridge the bank is 0.7m high with an external ditch 0.5m deep.

Elsewhere the bank is up to 0.5m high enclosing the tip of the hill behind, with internal quarry ditches on the north and south. The area enclosed is 0.38ha. The entrance to the interior consists of a simple causeway and gap 4.5m wide on the top of the ridge on the east. Facing this enclosure about half-way along the ridge is a cross-ridge work with a bank 0.4m high and a ditch 0.5m deep on its west. This has an entrance on the top of the ridge,

consisting of a simple causeway and gap 3m wide. To the north of this entrance there is a low counterscarp bank outside the ditch and a shallow ditch behind the main bank.

Behind this cross-work to the east is the secondary enclosure of 0.64ha.

 This consists,

along the north and south sides, of a terrace or double scarp, up to 4m broad and 0.7m deep on the south-east though shallower on the north and absent for a short stretch behind the cross-bank on the south.

At the far end of the southern side the terrace gradually becomes a ditch 0.3m deep with external bank 0.5m high, turning in to form part of the eastern end of the enclosure.

The same happens on the north side though the features are less well pronounced and the change more abrupt. The two banks join at a staggered junction at which the southern bank turns east to run along the ridge of the hill for 40m. There is no apparent gap at this end of the earthworks.

 The hill becomes constricted to a neck at this point beyond which the hilltop opens out again, and there are further earthworks of a field system and cross-work which are broadly contemporary. The terrace defining the southern side of the enclosure continues westwards beyond the cross-work towards the main enclosure, creating an open sided space between the two,

delimited on the north side by the natural scarp of the hill.

A trackway 6m broad, terraced into the hillside, leads up into this area, entering it on the north-west under the lee of the main enclosure. The interior of the site is uneven in places, due partly to later small-scale limestone digging or prospecting pits,

 but possible house-circles are present within both enclosures. There is also a more modern small rectangular drystone ruin in the east ditch of the main enclosure. A ruined wall of drystone boulders runs up along the centre of the approach trackway and along the northern edge of the site. {4}

Scheduling revised with new national number on 16 August 1994. {6}

The site is being managed as ancient woodland and is in generally good condition.

The Iron Age settlement and field system, centred at ST 568 456 could not be observed during a recent survey of aerial photographs and lidar in the Mendip AONB due to it being masked by tree cover.


1 Detailed records - Burrow, I. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD. (1981), 253-254. British Archaeological Reports 91.

2 Mention - Page, W. Victoria History of the County of Somerset. Vol. 2 (1911), 529.

3 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 54 NE 7 (1967) Location: HER files.  

4 Detailed records - Preece, A. King's Castle enclosures, Iron Age defended settlement. (1993) unpublished Monuments Protection Programme report for English Heritage. Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained.

5 Sketch plan - Preece, A, English Heritage. King's Castle Wells 1:2500. (1993) Location: HER file. HER digital source: 24053.

6 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council. (26/9/1994) Location: HER files.

7 Detailed records - Graham, A (Alan). English Heritage Field Monument Warden (23/7/1998) Location: HER file. HER digital source: 22869.

8 Verbal communication - Truscoe, K (Krysia). Somerset County Council Heritage Service (14/09/2007). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained  

9 Aerial photographs - Mendip AONB lidar ST 5644. (April 2006) Location: National Monuments Record, Swindon

10 Mention - Cottrell, T. A Study of Relict Landscape - Field Systems at Furzey Sleights and Lyatt, Dinder, Somerset. (1997) MA dissertation, University of Bristol. Location: HER files under PRN 23373.

St Cuthbert Out, sometimes Wells St Cuthbert Out, is a civil parish in the Mendip district of Somerset, England. It entirely surrounds (but does not include) the city and parish of Wells. According to the 2011 census it had a population of 3,749.

The parish is named for the Church of St Cuthbert, Wells and was created in 1866. The historic ecclesiastical parish of Wells St Cuthbert had been split into two, with the Wells St Cuthbert In parish covering the area inside the city of Wells (except for the small area covered by the cathedral's liberty of Wells St Andrew).

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