Banwell Camp Hill Fort, near Banwell, Somerset
Banwell Camp hillfort is a univalate contour enclosure, which contains another, earlier, enclosure on its summit. It is thought to have its origins in the Bronze Age,(1) however surface finds collected over the years indicate the hill has been used by humans in one way or another since the Upper Palaeolithic (a upper range of 50,000 years).(2)
The ramparts are obscured by trees and scrub, and there are entrances on the South East, South West and North sides These are unlikely to be original, however an out-turned rampart on the North East side could well be.(4) The proposed site of the original entrance makes sense in terms of location, as it overlooks the pass between Banwell Hill and Sandford Hill (the central part of which is now almost entirely obliterated by a quarry).
The Towerhead Brook runs through this pass – as the name suggests this is a small body of water and may not have been historically used for riverine transport. It is likely, however, that this was an important terrestrial North/South passage which may have been a partial motive for the construction of the hillfort. Peter Ellis has suggested that the enclosures on the plateau edge may have played a role in the movement of livestock.(4) The next most convenient pass through the hills is covered by Dolebury Camp 4.17 kilometres to the East, and there is also another equally well guarded pass 2.90 kilometres to the East of that, at Burrington Camp.
There is another earthwork at the Western end of Banwell Hilll – also obscured by vegetation – but its relationship to the main hillfort is unclear – however, since it overlooks a similar but narrower pass to the West, it is not unreasonable to postulate that they were in use at the same time, with the Western enclosure being an outlier of the main hillfort.
OS map reference: ST 4094 5900 . Nearest town/village: Banwell.