After spending an enjoyable afternoon in the lovely village of Bourton-On-The-Water, it seemed only right to have a look at the remains of the Salmonsbury earthworks.
Salmonsbury is in the north of the village and there is room to park at the top of Moors Lane which is a private road leading to Moors Farm. We didn’t spot the ‘Private Road – no public access’ sign – honest! There is however a public right of way to walk up the lane.
At the top of the lane is a stile which takes you into the fields where earthworks are said to be. In all honesty (to my untrained eye) I couldn’t make anything out which was obviously man made. These are certainly undulating fields but it all looked natural to me! No doubt someone who knows what they were talking about would tell you different!
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.