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
Batheaston in 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
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.
3 Hill fort
4 Later history
6 Cultural references
7 See also
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.
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.
A geological map by Horace B Woodward in the back of the 1888
'Handbook of Bath' labels the hill as 'Stilisbury Hill'.
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.
Earthworks at Solsbury Hill
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
of Britain in the early part of the 1st century BC.
The hill is near the
Fosse Way Roman Road as it descends Bannerdown
Batheaston on its way to Aquae Sulis. 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 the chroniclers
Gildas and Nennius. The hilltop
also shows the remains of a medieval or post medieval field
The hill also has two disused quarries, one quarry listed on the North
West side on a 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.
The 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
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 Somerset
^ Historic England. "
Solsbury Hill (203323)". PastScape. Retrieved 16
^ "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.
^ Sharples, Niall M (1991). English Heritage Book of Maiden Castle.
London: B. T. Batsford. pp. 71–72.
^ Historic England. "Slight
Univallate Hillfort 190m North West of
Westleigh (1002481)". National Heritage List for England. 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.
^ Historic England. "
Solsbury Hill (203323)". PastScape. Retrieved 8
^ 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
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.
^ 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
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
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". National Trust. Archived from
the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
^ 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 October
^ "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
^ "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
Batheaston SHLAA site BES 1 – Hawkers Yard" (PDF). Bath and North
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 November
^ "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.
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