MDE1246 - Roborough Castle (Monument)


Roborough Castle is a univallate hillslope enclosure, probably of Iron Age date, on a gentle north-facing slope.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 73064599) Roborough Castle (NR) Enclosure (NR) [1] A univallate hill slope enclosure, circular in shape , it isapproximately 83 yards in diameter and the western side is in best condition. [2,3] Roborough Castle, a sub-circular 100.0 metre diameter Iron Age defensive settlement situated on a slight north slope with a simple entrance in the south-east. It is basically univallate although the downhill side is extremely weak. A short section of ditch (on the west side) is very deep and wide; this appears to be an incomplete attempt to strengthen the earthwork. Extremely well preserved. Large area of site ploughed and under cultivation and only part of bank and ditch on south preserved. The bank and ditch on north and east appears to have been ploughed pre-1946 (seen on RAF aerial photographs).Resurveyed at 1:2500. [4] SS 7305 4599. Roborough Castle a univallate hillslope enclosure, probably an Iron Age settlement. It is situated on a gentle north-facing slope at about 320 metres above sea-level on the north side of Lyncombe Lane, a green track crossing the northern flanks of Stock Common. It has unrestricted views northwards to Foreland Point, the Bristol Channel and the South Wales coast; to the east it overlooks Hoaroak Water down steep wooded slopes; whilst the ground rises gently up to Furzehill Common on the south. It is shown on the 1840 tithe map [6] and annotated "Danish Fort" and it was common ground when visited by Woollcombe [7] at about the same time. By 1906, when Chanter [8] saw it, it was ploughed over and the ditch has "almost entirely disappeared". The site (except for bank around the south-west quadrant) was still being ploughed untill as recently as 1980 [9]. It is at present under pasture. The sub-circular enclosure, internally about 70 metres east to west by 64 metres an area of some 0.4 hectares, is formed by a turf-covered earth and stone bank which is up to 9.5 metres wide in the south. The bank predominates around the southwest side where its top is at best some 1.2 metres high above the interior and 1.7 metres high above an external ditch. Centrally this quadrant has been partly robbed externally for some 12 metres. From the west around to the southeast the bank is extremely low in comparison, its crest being at best only about 0.4 metres high above the interior and 1.2 metres above the ditch bottom. Although it has been ploughed, eroded and silted, this side was probably never as substantial as the more impressive south-west upper side. The ditch mirrors the bank and is deepest and widest around the south-west being about 4.3 metres wide and 0.6 metres deep at best. Elsewhere it is silted, ploughed and barely visible, reaching a maximum depth of about 0.3 metres. In the south-west it has been quarried in two separate places, leaving an apparent `causeway' between the quarry holes. The ditch here is now about 6.5 metres wide and some 2.5 metres deep. This is not "an incomplete attempt to strengthen the earthwork" as the material from the ditch has not gone onto the bank, in fact it has actually cut into it exposing its earth and stone core. The quarrying also has a rather sharp `modern' appearance to it. Neither the tithe map [6] nor the Woollcombe manuscript [7] show an entrance to the enclosure, however the 1889 Ordnance Survey map [10] shows a break in the bank on the southeast side with an out-turn to bank on the North side of the break. There is little doubt that an entrance was situated here where today the well-defined bank ends abruptly. On its south side the bank has clearly been cut across by the plough, removing some 2 metres from its length and enlarging the original entrance. On the north side the same has happened except that the bank, probably never very substantial, is much more reduced. The inner scarp on this north side is very slight and much spread and the ditch is no more than 0.3 metres deep. The present entrance gap is now about 12 metres wide but originally it must have been much narrower. On the north-west side of the enclosure the situation is very similar and the ploughcut across the end of the bank is also well-defined. Ploughing has obscured the area but the abrupt ending of the bank suggests there may have been an entrance here also, although there is now no definite evidence to support this. The interior has been ploughed to a depth of at least 0.3 metres below the inner base of the bank around the upper side leaving a distinct ploughcut, up to 0.7 metres parallel, out from the inner bank base. The north-east (lower) part is relatively flat, possibly a combination of shallower natural slope initially and gradual build up of hillwash. The upper part of the interior is mainly a slightly raised level platform and the central area contains two irregular ill-defined platforms. Though no definite trace of buildings is evident it is likely that these areas were used as stances. In 1839 Woollcombe [7] sketched, but did not describe, a linear earthwork extending from the south-west side of the enclosure for about 100 metres, but there is now no trace, or suggestion, of this feature on the ground. [5] The earthwork hillslope enclosure of Roborough Castle has been transcribed as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme project. The area of robbing and quarrying at the eastern section of the earthwork is clearly visible. Some internal earthworks, presumably the platforms described by the above authority, can also be seen and an attempt has been made to mark their limits. [13,14] A rough circular enclosure with a single strong bank and a deep ditch into the sw sectors. Difference between bank and ditch at this point about 3.05 metres. Probably an early iron age fort. Ploughed-over in northeast section where bank is low. A defensive settlement. [17] An almost circular enclosure with a widened entrance at the south-east, situated on the east side of the ridge extending north from High Moor. Three other enclosures can also be found on this ridge. [19] Very clear on 1973 Ordnance Survey aerial photograph. [22] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 7. [28] The site was surveyed in May 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 3. [29]

Sources/Archives (29)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1906. The Victoria History of the County of Devon. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 1. P. 607.
  • <3> Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Penguin Books. P. 120.
  • <4> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Timms, S. 1980 Devon County Archaeologist (visited 11 June following report from Exmoor National Par.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigators Comments. F1 Fletcher, M. J. 09/09/1974.
  • <6> Map: 1840. Lynton and Lynmouth Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Woollcombe. 1840-1849. Unknown : Manuscript.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1981. Worksheet in Devon HER. Chanter, Rev J.F. 1906 `The Parishes of Lynton and Countisbury', Trans Devonshire Ass. 38, 118-119..
  • <9> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1981. Worksheet in Devon HER. Mr Sanders.South Stock Lynton.
  • <10> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1981. Worksheet in Devon HER. Ordnance Survey 1889 1:2500 Devon Sheet 7:1..
  • <11> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1981. Worksheet in Devon HER. Ordnance Survey 1976 1:2500 Sheet SS 7345..
  • <12> Unpublished document: Eardley-Wilmot, H.. 1981. Worksheet in Devon HER. Sainsbury, I.S. 22-JUN-1994 RCHME Field Investigation..
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/931 (F20) 4036-7 11-NOV-1952.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/95026 045-046 12-MAR-1995.
  • <15> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173.
  • <16> Photograph: UNIVALLATE DEFENSIVE SETTLEMENT. BB74/04402. B/W.
  • <17> Index: Department of Environment. Unknown. List of Ancient Monuments.
  • <18> Unpublished document: Weston, S.. 1982. Department of Environment Field Monument Warden Visit.
  • <19> Monograph: Walls, T.. 2000. Earthwork Enclosures in North East Devon and their Late Prehistoric Landscape.
  • <20> Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Record Card. SS74NW13. Plan & Section..
  • <21> Aerial photograph: West Air Photography. 1981-1983. Oblique aerial photographs across Exmoor National Park. 27542.
  • <22> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7345b.
  • <23> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. raf/cpe/uk/1980.4079. 04/1947.
  • <24> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. mam/13/056. 05/1977.
  • <25> Aerial photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . os73 162/183. 15/05/1973.
  • <26> Aerial photograph: Griffith, F.. 1980s-1990s. Oblique aerial photographs of the Devon part of Exmoor National Park. LO 1-2 10/01/1989; QO 12-15 26/03/1990.
  • <27> Monograph: Fox, A.. 1996. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Devon Books.
  • <28> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <29> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.



Grid reference Centred SS 7305 4599 (119m by 101m)
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS74NW/16
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 675
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20040
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO76
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW13
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35176
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): DV 242

Record last edited

Jul 30 2021 2:09PM


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