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CHARTERHOUSE ON MENDIP ROMAN MINING SETTLEMENT

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The site of a Roman settlement associated with mining activities at Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Priddy, Somerset, centred on ST 500 562. Evidence suggests the settlement was occupied from the immediate post-Roman Conquest period to at least the early fourth century. The settlement area includes the sites of a possible amphitheatre and a Roman fortlet, and a possible further Roman sub-rectangular enclosure, although the latter may be of medieval or post-medieval date. It is recognised as one of the most important Roman industrial sites in Britain.
The Romans mined lead-ore and smelted this to produce impure metallic lead from which they appear to have extracted a small amount of silver.

An English Heritage survey in 2007 characterised the settlement and its relationship with the core mining zones of Blackmoor and Velvet Bottom valleys. It included earthwork survey, and aerial photograph and LiDAR analysis. The survey covered several different areas, and demonstrated that it covered an area of at least 27 hectares. It consists of a regular system of streets adapted to the local topography, which, where visible, divided a series of compound enclosures consisting of a varied layout of building-platforms and yards. The trackways, building platforms (at least 65), and enclosures indicate that there was an unenclosed settlement. However, a possible boundary ditch on the north-east side was identified, beyond which a possible cemetery has been located. Including the forts, and possible amphitheatre, the potential settlement area increases up to 36 hectares. The area of the settlement could potentially expand even beyond this, into unsurveyed areas to the south-east and the probable industrial focus in the Blackmoor and Velvet Bottom valleys. There was no evidence for any form of associated field-system, possibly due to the dangers of contamination from the industrial processes, or perhaps because of an economic focus on mining activities.

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