LITTLE SOLSBURY HILL (more commonly known as SOLSBURY HILL) is a
small flat-topped hill and the site of an
Iron Age hill fort . It is
located above the village of
Somerset , England. The
hill rises to 625 feet (191 m) above the River Avon , which is just
over 1 mile (2 km) to the south, and gives views of the city of Bath
and the surrounding area. It is within the
Cotswolds Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty .
The hill is one of several possible locations of the Battle of Badon
and shows the remains of a medieval field system. In the 19th century
part of the hill was quarried. It was acquired by the National Trust
in 1930. The hill was the inspiration of the
Peter Gabriel song
Solsbury Hill " which was recorded in 1977. A small turf maze was cut
into the turf by protesters during the widening of the A46 in 1994.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Geology
* 4 Later history
* 5 Wildlife
* 6 Cultural references
* 7 See also
* 8 References
It is sometimes misspelled as Salisbury, or Solisbury, perhaps
because of confusion with
Salisbury Plain (a plateau in southern
England), or the city of
Salisbury and Solsbury can be
difficult to distinguish in speech, as
Salisbury is often pronounced
"Saulsbury" and sometimes the "a" in "Salisbury" is pronounced as an
"o", and the "i" is elided , making the pronunciations of the two
words practically identical. The name, "Solsbury", may be derived
from the Celtic god
Sulis , a deity worshipped at the thermal spring
in nearby Bath .
The hill is formed in layers from a variety of sedimentary rocks of
Jurassic age. In common with the Cotswold plateau to the north, the
summit is formed from rocks ascribed to the Chalfield Oolite
Formation. The oolite together with the Fuller's Earth Formation which
underlies it, forms a part of the Great
Oolite Group of rocks of
Bathonian age. Beneath these are, successively,
limestones of the Inferior
Oolite Group and sandstones of the Bridport
Sand Formation. The last-named unit forms a part of the
Lias Group of
Toarcian age. Beneath all of these is the relatively thick
Charmouth Mudstone Formation sequence rising from the edge of the
valley floor alluvium . All faces of the hill are subject to large
areas of landslip .
The 625 feet (191 m) high hill is just over 1 mile (2 km) to the
north of the River Avon .
Hill forts developed in the Late Bronze and Early
Iron Age , roughly
the start of the first millennium BC . The reason for their emergence
in Britain, and their purpose, has been a subject of debate. It has
been argued that they could have been military sites constructed in
response to invasion from continental Europe, sites built by invaders,
or a military reaction to social tensions caused by an increasing
population and consequent pressure on agriculture.
Solsbury hill was an
Iron Age hill fort occupied between 300 BC and
100 BC, comprising a triangular area enclosed by a single univallate
rampart, faced inside and out with well-built dry stone walls and
infilled with rubble. The rampart was 20 feet (6 m) wide and the
outer face was at least 12 feet (4 m) high. The top of the hill was
cleared down to the bedrock, then substantial huts were built with
wattle and daub on a timber-frame. After a period of occupation,
some of the huts were burnt down, the rampart was overthrown, and the
site was abandoned, never to be reoccupied. This event is probably
part of the
Belgic invasion of Britain in the early part of the 1st
The hill is near the
Fosse Way Roman Road as it descends Bannerdown
Batheaston on its way to Aquae
Solsbury Hill is a
possible location of the
Battle of Badon , fought between the Britons
(under the legendary
King Arthur ) and the Saxons c. 496, mentioned by
Nennius . The hilltop also shows the
remains of a medieval or post medieval field system.
The hill also has two disused quarries, one quarry listed on the
North West side on an 1911 map, and another one listed as an old
quarry on the West side in 1885–1900. It was acquired by the
National Trust in 1930. People protesting against the building of an
A46 bypass road cut a small turf maze into the hill, during the
construction of the bypass in the mid-1990s. In one day of protests,
11 people, including
George Monbiot , were hospitalised as a result of
beatings by the security guards.
Triangulation station on the top of the hill, with the city
of Bath in the distance.
The plants and animals which live on
Solsbury Hill reflect the
habitat provided by grassland overlying the limestone rock beneath.
Specialist plants and animals, some of which are rare species, have
adapted to the calcareous grassland . Most of the landscape is largely
unaffected by agriculture as shown by the yellow meadow ant .
Examples of plant species found include bird\'s foot trefoil , vetches
, greater knapweed , harebells , yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and
scabious . It is one of a series of flower-rich habitats, which Avon
Wildlife Trust are trying to link together. The plants attract a
range of insects including: the six-spotted burnet moth , hummingbird
hawk-moth and a number of butterflies including chalkhill blues . A
small population of common buzzard (Buteo buteo) nest in the area.
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), badger and red fox are also seen. The
skylark also nests on the hill.
Solsbury Hill is also the inspiration for rock musician Peter Gabriel
's first solo single in 1977. A recording of the natural sounds on
Solsbury Hill forms the track "A Quiet Moment" on Peter Gabriel's 2011
album, New Blood , which precedes the orchestral version of his song.
The Warlord Chronicles , a historical fiction trilogy of books,
places the site of Mount Badon at Solsbury Hill.
* List of hill forts and ancient settlements in
* ^ "Solsbury Hill". National Monuments Record.
English Heritage .
Retrieved 16 March 2011.
* ^ "Focus on Little Solsbury Hillfort". The Heritage Journal. 22
March 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
* ^ Bowles, W.L. (1828). Hermes britannicus: A Dissertation on the
Celtic Deity Teutates, the Mercurius of Caesar, in Further proof and
corroboration of the origin and designation of the great temple at
abury in Wiltshire. J.B. Nichols and Son. p. 126.
* ^ William Page (editor) (1906). "Romano-British Somerset: Part 2,
Bath". A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 1. Institute of
Historical Research. Retrieved 29 September 2015. CS1 maint: Extra
text: authors list (link )
* ^ Vile, Nigel (16 February 2012). "Hill is still in tune with the
city\'s Celtic goddess". Bath Chronicle. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
* ^ British Geological Survey 2011 Bath, England and Wales sheet
265 Bedrock & Superficial Deposits, 1:50,000 (Keyworth, Nottingham:
British Geological Survey)
* ^ Scott, Shane (1995). The Hidden Places of Somerset.
Aldermaston: Travel Publishing Ltd. p. 16. ISBN 1-902007-01-8 .
* ^ Payne, Andrew; Corney, Mark; Cunliffe, Barry (2007). The Wessex
Hillforts Project: Extensive Survey of Hillfort Interiors in Central
Southern England. English Heritage. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-873592-85-4 .
* ^ Sharples, Niall M (1991).
English Heritage Book of Maiden
Castle. London: B. T. Batsford. pp. 71–72. ISBN 0-7134-6083-0 .
* ^ "Slight
Univallate Hillfort 190m North West of Westleigh".
National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 10
* ^ Dowden, W.A. "Little
Solsbury Hill Camp. Report on Excavations
of 1955 and 1956" (PDF). Proceedings of the University of Bristol
Speleological Society. 18 (1): 18–29.
* ^ Dowden, W.A. "Little
Solsbury Hill Camp. Report on Excavations
of 1958" (PDF). Proceedings of the University of Bristol Speleological
Society. 9 (3): 177–182.
* ^ "Solsbury Hill". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 8 June
* ^ Tratman, E.K. "Little
Solsbury Hill Camp" (PDF). Bath and
Camerton Archaeological Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on
14 July 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ Ciceran, Marissa. "General History of Hillforts". Istrianet.
Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ Codrington, Thomas (1903). Roman Roads in Britain. Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge .
* ^ Castleden, Rodney (2003). King Arthur: The Truth Behind the
Legend. Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 9781134373765 .
* ^ Oswin, John; Buettner, Rick. "Little
Solsbury Hill Camp
Geophysical Survey Batheaston,
Somerset 2012" (PDF). Bath and Camerton
Archaeological Society. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ Baker, Mick. "The Site of the Battle of Badon: The Case for
Bath". Post-Roman Britain. The History Files. Retrieved 23 October
* ^ Reno, Frank D. (1996). The Historic King Arthur: Authenticating
the Celtic Hero of Post-Roman Britain. McFarland. p. 159. ISBN
* ^ Oswin, John; Buettner, Rick. "Geophysics on Solsbury Hill"
(PDF). Bath and Camerton Archeological Society. Retrieved 10 March
* ^ "Medieval fields (?) with markers Little Solsbury" (PDF). Bath
and North East
Somerset Council. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ "Bath and North East Somerset: Local Plan: Strategic Land
Availability Assessment: Report of Findings (November,2013): Appendix
1b: Bath Green Belt" (PDF). Bath and North East
Somerset Council. p.
24. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ "Ordnance Survey 1:10560 County Series 2nd edition (c.1900)
Sheet 08 Subsheet 14". somerset.gov.uk. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ "Acquisitions Up to December 2011" (PDF). National Trust.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 21
* ^ Arbib, Adrian (2010). Solsbury Hill: Chronicle of a Road
Protest. Oxford: Bardwell Press. ISBN 978-1-905622-20-7 .
* ^ "English Turf Labyrinths". Labyrinthos. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ "Focus on Little Solsbury Hillfort". The Heritage Journal.
Retrieved 10 March 2014.
* ^ "About George Monbiot". George Monbiot. 2014. Retrieved 17
* ^ "Hill is still in tune with the city\'s Celtic goddess". Bath
Chronicle. 16 February 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ "A Living Landscape: The Bigger Picture" (PDF). South West
Wildlife Trusts. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ "Latest sightings".
Somerset Moth Group. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
* ^ "Species groups with records for \'LITTLE SOLSBURY HILL\'". NBN
Gateway. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
* ^ Fisher, Graham. "Upper Swainswick — Little
Solsbury Hill —
Charmy Down". Walking World. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
* ^ "
Batheaston SHLAA site BES 1 – Hawkers Yard" (PDF). Bath and
Somerset Council. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
* ^ "Rural Fringe: North of Bath". Environment and Planning. Bath
and North east Somerset. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012.
Retrieved 23 October 2011.
* ^ "
Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel". Songfacts. Retrieved 15
* ^ "Hear Peter Gabriel\'s new album \'New Blood\'". New Musical
Express. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
* ^ Cornwell, Bernard (2011). Warlord Chronicles. Penguin UK. ISBN
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