The Castles


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


Ordnance survey map of The Castles
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 12:04:12.


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

Taunton Deane (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
ST 05742 24484

Reasons for Designation

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The Castles hillfort is a good example of its class, surviving well with a complete circuit of defences. It will provide valuable archaeological information relating to the monument, the lives of its inhabitants, their economy, and the landscape in which they lived.


The monument includes a prehistoric slight univallate hillfort known as The Castles which occupies the rounded summit of a red sandstone hill on the eastern edge of Exmoor. The ground drops steeply down to the north towards a valley of the River Tone and more gently to the west and south, gradually levelling out to the east. The hillfort is oval in plan and aligned from east to west. An area of 1.6ha is enclosed by a bank with an external ditch and an additional, scarped bank outside the ditch on the north side. The hillfort is fortified on the eastern side with a steep bank 3m high and up to 9m wide. Less steep banks on the south and west sides, where the countours of the hill provide a natural defence, have an average width of 8m. A ditch, flanking the eastern side of the hillfort, survives as a shallow depression 5m wide. The bank on the north side of the hillfort is 7.5m wide. It is fronted by a ditch approximately 0.4m deep and 8m wide with a counterscarp bank 6m wide. An entrance, approximately 10m wide, formed by a slight inturning of the banks located on the eastern side is probably original. A second entrance located to the north of this, formed by a simple break in the banks, is considered to be more recent. The original profile of the banks on the east, south and west side has been blurred by the addition of ancient hedge banks. Several prehistoric surface finds from within the hillfort have been recorded and these include a Neolithic arrowhead and a polished axe fragment. The hut located close to the west bank of the hillfort and all post and wire fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included. The well beneath the hut is totally excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

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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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