Shoulsbarrow Castle (Shaulsbury)


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Devon (District Authority)
North Devon (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SS 70548 39093


Bowl barrow and small multivallate hillfort known as Shoulsbarrow Castle.

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch, which are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including roundhouses; four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Small multivallate hillforts hold important information to enable understanding of the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period.

The small multivallate hillfort known as Shoulsbarrow Castle survives well, despite its very bleak location. It is also unusual because it does not appear to have been completely finished originally. It contains a bowl barrow, which appears to have been left undisturbed by the hillfort builders, as if respected by them and has not been merely incorporated into the defence structure of the rampart itself. This barrow survives comparatively well and typifies its period, the Bronze Age. All the earthworks and their associated buried construction ditches as well as the occupation layers and deposits will contain important archaeological and environmental information relating to the construction, use and landscape context of the monument.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 21 October 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort known as Shoulsbarrow Castle and a bowl barrow within the hillfort enclosure. The hillfort and barrow are situated on a prominent ridge forming the watershed between valleys to Castle Cleave Combe, Weirs Combe and tributaries of the River Bray. The central hillfort enclosure is rectangular in plan with rounded corners and measures up to 143m long by 140m wide internally. It is defined by a stone and earth bank measuring up to 1.2m wide and 3.6m high, beyond which is a berm up to 3m wide then a partially buried outer ditch. There is a possible entrance on the western side of the rampart with a causeway over the ditch. In the north east quarter of the inner enclosure is a bowl barrow surviving as a circular mound with a central hollow. The mound measures 11.5m in diameter, 1.2m high and has a 1.3m wide partially buried outer construction ditch. The outer rampart lies to the east, north and partially to the west and is formed by a bank with outer ditch. To the south the steeper natural slope has been utilised. However, to the west the outer rampart and ditch do not extend to the top of this steeper natural slope, this suggests the hillfort was never completed.

A partial excavation was carried out in 1906. A parish boundary crosses the hillfort and bisects the bowl barrow. Traditionally Alfred the Great held the camp against the Danes.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
DV 49
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Griffith, F, Devon's Past: An Aerial View, (1988), 40
PastScape Monument Nos:- 35025 and 1050187


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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