Early History

Early History

Mendip has been a home, a hunting ground and a provider of rich resources for over 18,000 years.

Known as the Priddy Circles, several huge prehistoric landmarks lie on the Harptree plateau, close to the Castle of Comfort Inn. Their date and use remains unknown. They are not easy to discern from the ground, but their pattern is remarkable from the air.

Pitcher’s Enclosure is an intriguingly complex Iron Age earthwork structure, with a large funnel-shaped approach to an area containing signs of roundhouses, terraces and defensive banks, all with an associated Iron Age field system.

A Bronze Age barrow excavated in 1930 at Pool Farm contained more than just cremated remains; one of the large slabs of the cist was found to bear carvings representing seven feet and 10 cups. This stone is a very unusual form of rock art.

Although the Romans valued Mendip for its easily extracted lead and silver, the Harptree plateau shows no signs of mining from Roman times.

However, in 1887 a villager, William Currell, was looking for a source of water on the slope above East Harptree, and uncovered a pewter pot containing a hoard of nearly 1,500 Roman coins from the reigns of Constantine the Great and Gratian, some silver ingots, and a ring.

The Harptree Hoard, along with many fragments of ploughed up pottery, tell us that our area was occupied in the early centuries AD. Later enabling works in the 1950s for the new Chew Valley Lake revealed much evidence of a well-established Roman villa at Chew Park.

Our Heritage and History