Bat's Castle: a small multivallate hillfort and associated outwork


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

Somerset West and Taunton (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SS 98820 42146, SS 99046 42016

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. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, 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 round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.

Bat's Castle survives well as a good example of its class. It is associated with field banks, two smaller defended enclosures nearby, and a field system and hut circle settlement on the hill below it to the south-west.


The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort and an associated cross-ridge outwork. Situated on the first line of hills rising above the coastal plain, the site overlooks the Bristol Channel, and inland commands views to Dunkery Hill. The fort, roughly circular in shape and enclosing 1.2ha, is at one end of a short ridge on the summit of a gently sloping hilltop, with a steep drop to the south-west. It can be seen from at least four other defensive enclosures. The defences include an inner and outer rampart, separated by a ditch. The ramparts, which are of rubble construction, survive up to 2m high, and the ditch up to 2m deep. The two entrances to the interior are on the east and west sides of the fort. These consist of a simple gap and causeway on the west, whilst on the east the banks are inturned. Outside the eastern entrance the ditch and second bank turn out to flank a 45m approachway, which appears to be a later addition. Slight ridges and furrows can be seen in the interior of the fort running NNE/SSW. These may be recent, as local knowledge suggests that the fort was used to grow potatoes in World War II. To the south-east of the hillfort is an outwork. This crosses the other end of the ridge to the hillfort and the bank is of similar scale and construction, c.200m long, but with no outer rampart. It follows a sinuous course, zig- zagging in the middle and fading out at either end, with no apparent gap. Short lengths of low bank survive running from near its northern tip, and these may be remnants of a contemporary field system. Excluded from scheduling are all modern fences and posts, although the ground beneath these is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Houchen, A, (1993)
Refers to V.C.H., OSAD Records, (1962)


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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