MDE20186 - Probable Bronze Age barrow at Shoulsbury Castle (Monument)


Earthwork remains of a probable Bronze Age round barrow in the northeast corner of Shoulsbury Castle enclosure.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

NB: This site was originally part of SS 73 NW6 (MDE1192) but has been separated and given a new NMR number to aid clarification. [1] SS 7062 3910. A barrow prominently situated at about 465 metres above Ordnance Datum, on the southwest end of the hill ridge between Shoulsbarrow Common on the north and Castle Common on the south. It lies in predominantly rough grass and scattered heather covered enclosed ground on a gentle southwest facing slope, within the northeast corner of Shoulsbury Castle (MDE1192). It has panoramic views north to the Chapman, Longstone and Wood Barrows; southwest to Barnstaple Bay; south to Dartmoor; and southeast to Setta Barrow, Five Barrows and Two Barrows. However the view to the northeast is blocked by the rising ground of the hill crest which is occupied by an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar some 80 metres away. The Challacombe/Brayford parish boundary runs through the centre of the barrow [2]. The barrow survives as a mainly heather covered gutted mound, measuring 11.5 metres in overall diameter and 1.2 metres at maximum height. Probing suggests it is composed of earth and stone. It has been robbed, or crudely 'excavated', leaving a central hollow which measures about 6 metres northwest-southeast by 5 metres and is 1.5 metres deep. Spoil from the hollow has been dumped around its rim, mainly in the northeast, almost obscuring the flat summit of the barrow (which is about 8 metres in diameter) and creating an irregular false top which adds some 0.4 metres to its height of 0.8 metres. There are traces of a surrounding ditch, about 1.3 metres wide and 0.1 metres at its maximum depth, evidenced by a shallow rush filled band mainly around the east half. This barrow was shown, unnamed, on the Ordnance Survey 1889 map [2]. This was omitted from the 1904 revision [3], but was resurveyed by the Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division surveyor in 1973 [4]. NOTE. There are several different spellings of the name Shoulsbarrow (see MDE1192). It may be that this is the original 'Shoul's Barrow' which gave its name to 'Shoulsbarrow Common' and also 'Shoulsbarrow Castle'. It seems anomalous to have 2 different spellings to what is obviously the same basic name and it would be more sensible to refer to this barrow as 'Shoul's Barrow' and the earthwork as 'Shoulsbarrow Castle' as it was on the 1904 Ordnance Survey [3]. [5] Shoulsbarrow Castle (MDE1192) is a Scheduled Monument, but it is not clear if this barrow has been included in that Scheduling. [6] The round barrow described above is clearly visible on aerial photographs as a low earthwork lying within the walls of Shoulsbarrow Castle. [7,8] Probable barrow within Shoulsbury hillfort. Diameter: 12 paces; height 1.5 feet. Hollow in centre. Visited 20 May1962 [9] Circular mound has interior hollow. Entire area under grass. No trace of habitation. Visited 24 November 1953 [10] Mound is possibly a herdsman's hut. With a few hurdles the site could even now be used as cattle enclosure. Visited in 1957. [11] Visited 1905. [12] A survey of Shoulsbury Castle at 1:500 scale was undertaken in 2005 by English Heritage. The survey found the earthwork remains of a probable round barrow towards the northeast corner of the enclosure. The subcircular feature c. 18.5 metres by 18.4 metres formed a low flat mound 0.2 metres high with a substantial pit 5.9 metres by 5.3 metres, which was up to 0.7 metres deep near the centre. The feature suggested the remains of a Bronze Age round barrow. [13] This site visible on aerial photographs taken in 1966, 1973 and 1979. [14-16] The barrow is depicted as an earthwork on 2020 MasterMap data. [17] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [18]

Sources/Archives (18)

  • <1> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. Devon 10(8).
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. Devon 10(8).
  • <4> Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Record Card. Site SS7039, 1973, 1:2500, F1 2.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1 August 1995.
  • <6> Report: English Heritage. 1999. List of Scheduled Monuments: Devon, and the Unitary Authorities of Plymouth, and Torbay. Number 49.
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . NMR OS/73109 1036-38 (29 April 1973).
  • <8> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NW. MD002189.
  • <9> Article in serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1970. The Barrows of North Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 28. p 84, 121.
  • <10> Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Record Card. Site SS73NW6, visited 1953, plan.
  • <11> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. A Fox, 1957.
  • <12> Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1906. The Victoria History of the County of Devon. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 1. JC Wall, Ancient Earthworks, p 595-6.
  • <13> Report: Jamieson, E.. 2005. Shoulsbury Castle, Exmoor, Devon: An Iron Age Hillfort and a Stone Setting on Shoulsbarrow Common. English Heritage. 7,10.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1973. 73/163/008-009. Aerial Photograph.
  • <15> Aerial photograph: NMR. 1979. SS7039: SF 1460/59,64.
  • <16> Aerial photograph: Cambridge University Collection. 1966. CUC/ANM 88. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs.
  • <17>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap data. 1:2,500. [Mapped feature: #42014 ]
  • <18> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1050187, Extant 29 November 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7061 3910 (17m by 16m)
Map sheet SS73NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 732
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 7347
  • Devon SMR: SS73NW/500
  • Devon SMR: SS73NW/500/1
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE13173
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO504
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW43
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1050187

Record last edited

Nov 29 2021 10:22PM


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