Brandon Hill Evaluation

In August and September 2011 two archaeological trial trenches were excavated across the line of Civil War-era fortifications at the top of Brandon Hill, Bristol. This is the only place in Bristol where earthworks of the 1640s are visible and these have only survived because Brandon Hill has been a public open space since 1625. The defensive ditch was found to have steeply sloping sides with a flat base and contained approximately 100 years of silting, however it had been deeply re-cut in the early 20th-century.

archaeological trench made across a civil war ditch on brandon hill in bristol

Brandon Hill sondage across Civil War Ditch showing steep sides and flat base

Contrary to long-established assumptions, the earthwork ramparts of the 1640s had been removed in antiquity and the standing masonry walls, in the shape of an angled bastion, are in fact a ‘folly’ dating from the later 18th century. Further landscaping has subsequently taken place, possibly in the 1850s when a Crimean memorial gun emplacement and pathways through the park were laid out. The 18th-century walls were renovated again in the early 20th-century during construction of Cabot Tower.

archaeological trench revealing post-medieval landscaping features

Brandon Hill — Trench through Bastion revealing 18th century wall & 19th century landscaping

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