Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Heritage Sites

Velvet Bottom Slag HeapsThere are a number of Scheduled Monuments, or SMs, across Somerset Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves. SMs are the SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) of the historic environment, and are nationally important.

The SMs on the Trust’s reserves range from Iron Age hill forts to bowl barrow tumuli; from Medieval field systems to lead works. There’s even a WWII bunker on the Mendips. SMs can be searched for via English Heritage’s National Heritage List for England.

Photo caption: Velvet Bottom slag heaps (top) and buddle pits (bottom).

South & East Somerset

Dundon Beacon Nature Reserve
Compton Dundon hill fort (5ha)Velvet Bottom Bundle Pits, located on top of Dundon Hill, thought to date from late Bronze Age to early Iron Age (SM reference: 1014715).

East Mendip 

Cockles Fields Nature Reserve
Whole site is a SM, including Roman opencast coal mining remains (SM reference: 1019022). Nearest settlement: Nettlebridge or Oakhill. Grid reference: ST 647 487.

Harridge Woods Nature Reserve
Medieval and post-Medieval coal mining remains can be found in Harridge East and West and Edford Wood South (SM ref 1019023). Grid reference: ST 648 484.

King’s Castle Wood Nature Reserve
Iron Age defended settlement situated on plateau of outlying ridge of the Mendips (SM reference: 1008807). Nearest settlement: Wells. Grid reference: ST 568 456.

Chancellors Farm Nature Reserve (appointment only)
Two tumuli, also known as barrows or burial mounds, thought to be Bronze Age. A Neolithic arrowhead found in the fields in 1983 is now in Axbridge Museum. Nearest settlement: Priddy.

West Mendip

Lots Grassland Nature Reserve
WWII bunker associated with bombing decoy complex at Black Down (SM reference: 1020995). Nearest settlement: Charterhouse. Grid reference: ST 486 566.

Lynchcombe Nature Reserve
Medieval field system and lynchets associated with the ruined medieval farmstead at the adjacent Deer Leap site (SM reference: 1006138). Nearest settlement: Westbury-sub-Mendip. Grid reference: ST 521 492.

Ubley Warren Nature Reserve
Portion of bowl barrow, also known as tumulus, in south-east corner of reserve (SM reference: 1008287). Nearest settlement: Charterhouse. Grid reference: ST 511 549.

Velvet Bottom Nature Reserve
Significant area of reserve is part of the Charterhouse lead works (SM reference: 1006127). Nearest settlement: Charterhouse. Grid reference: ST 496 551.

Other Sites of Interest

Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs) are sites of county importance but which are not recognised as SMs, as are Historic Environment Records (HERs). There are literally dozens of SMRs and HERs on Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserves. Here are some examples:

South and East Somerset
There is a powder house at Green Down, and the Colston Obelisk is a listed building which can be found in Great Breach Wood. The Colston Obelisk was erected in memory of Hungerford Colston, who was killed in a hunting accident in 1852.

East Mendip
Edford Meadow is home to a section of the former Somerset coal canal, which can be seen from the footpaths. There is also some evidence of small-scale coal extraction.

West Mendip
There are two lime kilns at Black Rock which formerly used limestone from the quarries, one of which has been fully restored and dates from the 20th century. This reserve also has the remains of a tea room in the woodland edge on the south side of Black Rock Gate. Long Wood has various pits where stones were dug out for building dry stone walls, and once had a water mill at the north end of the reserve.

But there are hundreds of SMRs and HERs in Somerset -­ find out more on Somerset’s Historic Environment Records website. There are also many as-yet unrecorded archaeological sites on the reserves just waiting to be discovered; if you find anything of interest, please let us know and do email any pictures of heritage sites you find on our nature reserves - we will publish the best. Please adhere to the Countryside Code when visiting and do not use metal detectors.