Iron Age defended settlement known as Berry Castle.
Reasons for Designation
Exmoor is the most easterly of the three main upland areas in the south western peninsula of England. In contrast to the other two areas, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and little excavation of Exmoor monuments. However, survey work has confirmed a comparable richness of archaeological remains, with evidence of human exploitation and occupation from the Mesolithic period to the present day. Many of the field monuments surviving on Exmoor date from the later prehistoric period. During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were constructed and occupied in south western England. At the top of the settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. The Iron Age defended settlement known as Berry Castle survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, function, territorial significance, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 29 July 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.
This monument includes an Iron Age defended settlement situated on a narrow sloping ridge between the valleys of two tributaries to an unnamed river leading to Porlock Bay. The settlement survives as three sides of a small rectangular enclosure defined by a single rampart bank of up to 7m wide and 1.7m high internally with a partially buried outer ditch of up to 6m wide and 2m deep to the north, west and south sides and to the east by the natural steep slope. To the south east is a short stretch of a second outer bank and ditch. There is a possible entrance to the north east through which a parish boundary bank enters and effectively bisects the interior.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity but are not included in the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.