Park pale and associated remains at Castle Hill
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015466
Date first listed: 26-Mar-1997
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SS 67939 28676
Reasons for Designation
Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for
the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally
located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house,
castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually
comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of
cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features,
including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit
warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a
park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch.
Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon
period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the
majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks,
between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity
amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed
and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had
largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown
but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often
altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually
every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home
Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today
they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval
nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern
landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or
associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally
identified as nationally important.
Despite limited damage and reuse over the years, the deer park at Castle Hill survives comparatively well with a range of contemporary features, some of which rarely survive on such sites. It now forms part of formal parkland associated with Castle Hill.
This monument includes lengths of the northern, western and southern park pale
and a D-shaped platform, together forming the surviving part of a deer park
within the estate of Castle Hill, Filleigh. It occupies a rounded hill known
as Deer Park Hill to the north east of Castle Hill House and the River Bray
forms its eastern boundary. The monument survives as a series of earthwork
features: to the north there is a lynchet which develops into a substantial
ditch and bank and to the west there are the remains of a ditch and pale,
which have become fossilised further to the north in the form of the road
known as Deer Park Lane.
The deer park is roughly oval in shape and measures 800m long from east to
west and 600m wide from north to south. In the north western corner the
northern boundary of the deer park survives as a lynchet which measures up to
112m long, 0.5m wide and 0.3m high. This becomes a ditch which measures 385m
long, 3.4m wide and 0.8m deep. The ditch is clay lined and contains water. To
the north of the ditch is a slight bank, which measures 0.5m wide and 0.3m
high. As the ditch progresses eastwards it begins to widen and deepen. At its
easternmost extent the ditch is up to 4m wide and 4m deep. To the north of
the ditch a small bank continues to run parallel to it and this is up to 0.5m
wide by 0.3m high.
Towards the north eastern end of the ditch a modern causeway has been
built to facilitate access to the fields to the north of the deer park
boundary. To the east of this the outer bank has become fossilised into a
stone built wall erected during the period 1785 to 1787 by the first Earl
Fortescue, when the deer park was extended. The ditch itself widens and joins
the River Bray which originally formed the eastern side of the park.
On the southern side of the deer park to the north of the present day
cricket ground is a D-shaped platform which measures 60m long by 45m wide at
its widest point and is 3m high. This feature represents a platform from which
the deer could be targeted whilst running across the deer run. Continuing from
this platform to the south western corner of the deer park and lying 12m to
the south of the peripheral track is a linear bank which measures 2m wide and
In the south western corner of the deer park a set of stone built gates
mark the entrance, they were erected pre-1886 but do not appear on the 1838
The western side of the deer park is also marked by a ditch. This measures
4m wide and from 1.5m to 2m deep. This gradually tapers upslope to the north.
To the west of the ditch is a stone wall up to 1.5m high and on top of this is
a metal railing 1m high. The ditch ceases at a point where it originally
encountered a field boundary approximately half way up the western side of the
deer park. This boundary has now been removed. From this point northwards, the
boundary ditch survives as a buried feature beneath the road known as Deer
Park Lane which is bounded on its western side by a substantial field boundary
up to 2m high and 1.5m wide. The ground surface beyond this boundary is much
higher than that on the deer park side.
The first record of the deer park at Filleigh dates to 1630, although it
is likely to predate this period. It is also shown on the 1763 Field Map and
on Donn's 1765 Survey of Devon.
The road surface of Deer Park Lane and modern fencing are excluded from the
scheduling, but the ground beneath 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: 28626
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Colvin, , Moggridge, , Castle Hill: Summary and evaluation of History, (1991)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS62NE16, (1986)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1995)
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