Road Castle


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


Ordnance survey map of Road Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 29-Feb-2020 at 13:44:54.


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

West Somerset (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SS 86289 37578

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, detailed survey work by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England has confirmed a comparable richness of archaeological remains, with evidence of human exploitation and occupation from the Mesolithic period to the present day. Hillslope enclosures provide the main evidence for the Iron Age on Exmoor. First categorised by Lady Aileen Fox in 1952, their morphology has been refined by the Royal Commission survey. Despite their name they do not occur only on hillslopes, although their usual location is on a sheltered valley side. They are smaller than hillforts, generally no larger than between 50m and 80m across, and usually less well defended. The enclosure itself is defined by a single bank, often with an associated ditch, with a single entrance. In some cases, where natural slopes form part of the defences, the bank may not form a complete circuit and may be missing where the angle of slope acts in its stead. Where it can be recognised, the settlement evidence within these enclosures comprises platforms indicating the position of buildings. Around 50 hillslope enclosures with upstanding earthworks have been identified on Exmoor. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples, particularly those with a complete or near complete circuit of defences, are considered worthy of protection.

Despite some past surface damage to parts of the western rampart, Road Castle hill-slope enclosure survives well and is an impressive example of this class of monument with its substantial and well-preserved earthworks. Archaeological remains and environmental evidence are likely to be preserved within the enclosure's interior and have the potential for providing important information about the site and the wider landscape in which it was constructed. Road Castle is one of a group of similar enclosures which date from the same general period and which occupy commanding positions overlooking river valleys in the Exmoor landscape.


The monument includes Road Castle, an earthwork enclosure of Iron Age date located immediately south of Lyncombe Wood. The enclosure is situated below the summit of a broad spur which forms the northern end of Road Hill, and which overlooks the Exe Valley on the north and east sides. The enclosure is near square in plan, with rounded corners, and occupies a well defended position which, on the north side and north eastern corner, falls steeply away to the River Exe below. An area of approximately 0.3ha is enclosed. The south, west and south east sides are defined by a steeply scarped rampart bank, up to 4m high, and an external ditch up to 1.4m deep. The bank and ditch together have an overall width of 14m. An external, low counterscarp bank, which extends from the south western corner to the south eastern corner, is visible along the south side of the enclosure. This is located some 6m from the edge of the outer ditch and is 3m wide. The profile of the bank on the east side of the enclosure has been modified by the later addition of a hedgebank along most of its course, although it is probable that the majority of the prehistoric bank has been incorporated into the later hedgebank. The outer ditch along this eastern section of bank is less substantial than in other areas and is visible as a shallow depression about 0.3m deep, but will survive as a buried feature. On the north side of the enclosure the rampart bank is formed by a steep outward-facing scarp which has a 4m wide berm on its outer, north-facing side. There is no evidence for a ditch along this section of the enclosure. The rampart banks throughout the circuit of the enclosure are generally earthen built, but the existence of a length of laid stone exposed on the west bank suggests that there was an external stone revetment wall along at least part of its course. The original entrance into the enclosure is believed to be on the east side where a 3m wide opening is defined to the south by a rounded terminal bank, and on the north by the outward curving hedgebank which may conceal the original bank terminal. This entrance provides modern gated access into the enclosure. There are no recorded features within the enclosure. The earliest known recording of the name `Road' occurs around 1219 when it is referred to as `la Rode' in a document known as the Perambulations of Exmoor Forest. All gates, gateposts, fencing and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included.

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.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Macdermot, E T, A History of the Forest of Exmoor, (1973), 117
SS 83 NE 5, 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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