MSO12262 - Late prehistoric linear earthwork in Dunster Deer Park (Monument)


The remains of a substantial linear eathwork comprise a rampart and a counterscap bank, with an entrance gap. It is most likely to be a later prehistoric earthwork, but has also been suggested to represent a hunting butt.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

Two lengths of bank with ditches to the northeast are visible on aerial photographs. [1-4] A massive curving linear earthwork, 130 metres long, with an uphill bank, ditch or hollow on the downhill side, and counterscarp below. From the top of the bank to the bottom of the ditch is c.4 metres. In places the upper bank has fallen into the ditch. The earthwork is similar in form to the outwork of Bat's Castle to the southeast (MSO9082). However, its location leading slightly upwards from the centre of a shallow combe onto the steeper ground, makes it unlikely for defence. It is perhaps a hollow way, though it has been deliberately constructed. Its situation within a deer park may suggest a hunting butt. [5] Field investigation revealed the remains of a well preserved rampart and counterscarp bank, centred at SS 9874 4252. The earthwork measures 110 metres x 12-15 metres overall. It comprises two lengths of rampart and counterscarp bank, separated by an entrance gap which seems to be an original feature. The ditch is terraced into the slope, and therefore forms an impressive barrier 4-5 metres deep on its upslope side, where it is backed by a quarry scarp at its northern end. The inner rampart is 2 metres wide and 0.9 metres high, and the counterscarp bank is 0.9 metres high and 1.5 metres wide. Both ends of the earthwork appear to be original terminals, although the northern end lies close to the track which forms part of the Dunster/Carhampton parish boundary. The earthwork lies on the edge of dense coniferous plantation, within Dunster Park. It lies at the top of a combe, just below the saddle of land between the later prehistoric enclosures of Bat's Castle (MSO9082) and Black Ball Camp (MSO9410), and appears to have guarded the approaches to both of these sites. The earthwork's morphology and association with the prehistoric enclosures suggest that it functioned with these sites. Like the outwork to the southeast of Bat's Castle (MSO9083), the earthwork forms an imposing monument in the landscape. The earthwork was surveyed at a scale of 1:1000 as part of the RCHME Exmoor project. [6,7] The earthwork described above is clearly visible on aerial photographs, both oblique and vertical. [8-11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS9842.
  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. CPE/UK/1980 3017 (April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. CPE/UK/1980 3191 (April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. HSL/UK/71-177 Run 99/8804 (September 1971).
  • <5> Report: Preece, A.. 1993-1994. English Heritage Monument Protection Programme. 05/05/1993.
  • <6> Technical drawing: Bat's Castle Outwork Ink Survey.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1999.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR ST 9842/21/178 (SF1459) (1 March 1979).
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 4217-18 (11 April 1947).
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3217-18 (11 April 1947).
  • <11> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 94 SE. MD002187.



Grid reference Centred SS 9875 4243 (93m by 87m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet SS94SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO1209
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE113
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1218790
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 35330

Record last edited

Jan 21 2020 11:26AM


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