Brewer's Castle


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


Ordnance survey map of Brewer's Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Somerset (District Authority)
Withypool and Hawkridge
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SS 88314 29769

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.

Brewer's Castle hillfort, despite its relatively small size, survives well in its commanding position on a steep promontory overlooking the Barle Valley. Survey has shown that archaeological remains and environmental evidence are preserved within its interior and these have the potential for providing important information about the site and the wider landscape in which it was constructed. Brewer's Castle is one of only a few examples of hillforts distributed across the region which occupy prominent positions overlooking the major river valleys.


The monument includes Brewer's Castle, a hillfort of Iron Age date located at the eastern end of Hawkridge Ridge Wood in the lower Barle Valley, about 3km north west of Dulverton. The site occupies a steep, flat-topped knoll which is bounded by the River Barle on the north, east and south east sides, and by Dane's Brook on the south and south west sides. The hillfort enclosure is pear-shaped and follows the natural contours of the knoll with the broadest end to the east. An area of just under 0.4ha is defined by the sides of the knoll which have been artificially enhanced to form a bank with an outward-facing scarp. This is between 2m and 4m high and is visible as a low bank less than 0.5m high internally except on the north and north west sides. The internal dimensions of the defended area are approximately 75m east-west and 62m north-south. The enclosure has two entrances, one on the west side and one on the north east side, both of which may be original. The western entrance is located across the narrowest part of the enclosure and is formed by a 2m break in the scarp with the scarp ends flanked by internal banks. The north eastern entrance is formed by simple inturned scarp ends. A length of revetment walling survives in the scarp face to the south of this entrance. Three level platforms have been identified within the interior and all are located within the shelter of the north eastern entrance. Two of these platforms are thought to represent the sites of buildings, possibly contemporary with the prehistoric hillfort; the largest platform is rectangular in plan, 6m long by 2.5m wide with visible traces of the remains of a wall. A smaller, sub-rectangular platform is located immediately to the south. A third platform is visible as a circular depression and has a spoil heap located 10m to its north. It may also be contemporary with the enclosure, although its function is unknown. Vitrified stone recovered from the base of the rampart to the south of the northern entrance suggests destruction by fire because of the high temperature needed for vitrification to take place. The site is traditionally associated with William Brewer, a warden of the Royal Forest of Exmoor from 1216 to 1225, who had permission to hunt deer. It has been suggested that the remains of a small rectangular building located at the foot of the promontory about 100m from the hillfort (not included in the scheduling) represent William Brewer's hunting lodge, although this is not substantiated.

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:


Books and journals
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), 63-64
SS 82 NE 1, National Monuments Record,


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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