MSO8663 - Brewer's Castle, Hawkridge (Monument)


Brewer's Castle is a probable Iron Age defended settlement or hillfort, above the confluence of the River Barle and Dane's Brook.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 88332977) Brewer's Castle (NAR) Camp (NR) [1] Brewer's Castle is a univallate hillfort of under 3 acres [3]. It lies above the confluence of the River Barle and Dane Brook. The bank is 3 feet high inside and externally approximately 10 feet above the level of the silted up outer ditch. [2,3] Brewer's Castle occupies a defensive situation at the eastern end of a narrow ridge. Except on the west the natural slopes are utilized as defence with slight evidence of scarping on the east and southeast. Loose stone on the east and south slopes, combined with an inner berm, may indicate the former existence of a stone wall around this part ofthe perimeter, but there are no traces of footings. A gap on the west is the only entrance and is formed by an inturning of the scarp. At this point, on the neck of the ridge, there is a shallow natural saddle which Bothamley took to be a silted up ditch. The interior has one large mass of outcrop and several natural terraces of stone. The earthwork would be unsuitable for the impounding of cattle or for any large scale habitation. It is possibly entirely natural but the impression gained is of an attempt having been made to enclose the area. As such it is not possible to classify the work upon visual inspection alone. Surveyed at 1/2500. [4] SS 884298. Brewer's Castle. Scheduled. [5] Not easily distinguished except for lengths of banking. [6] SS 8833 2977. Brewer's Castle (NAT) Fort (NR) [7] Additional bibliography. [8] SS 883 297. Brewer's Castle. Listed in gazetteer as a univallate hillfort covering 0.29ha. [11] SS 8832 2977. Brewer's Castle Note: This may not be the correct spelling. On the 1899 First Edition Ordnance Survey 1:2500 [12] this site is annotated as "Bremers Castle" (Remains of) (sic) although on the 1904 Revision [13] it does appear as "Brewer's Castle". Field investigation failed to ascertain the correct spelling. Brewer's Castle is situated about 205 metres above sea level on the summit of a flat-topped, pear shaped, knoll at the eastern end of a ridge in the deciduous woodland of Hawkridge Ridge Wood. The knoll lies in a U bend formed by the River Barle on the north, east and southeast and its tributary the Dane's Brook in the south. It is accessed by a footpath ascending the ridge from the west. The edge of the natural knoll has been artificially enhanced to form a steep scarp, or rampart, about 2 metres in average height, which is best seen from the north, eastwards around to the south. This rampart probably existed along the northwest side but appears to have eroded away down the steeper slopes here. The rampart encloses an area about 72 metres east to west by 62 metres internally, some 0.36 hectares (0.9 acres). No evidence can be seen of a wall or bank topping the rampart, as alleged by Burrow [17], was seen. Probing revealed some stone but this may be the natural surface as the knoll is quite rocky. There is however a clear internal berm, some 4 to 5 metres wide, adjacent and parallel to the rampart around most of the east and south sides. The entrance is in the west, across the narrowest part of the ridge, marked by a 2 metre break flanked by two inturned ends of the rampart. If there was a ditch here, fronting the entrance, there is now no trace of it. There is another break, about 4 metres wide, in the rampart to the northeast. It is above steeper slopes and could be an original feature but may be no more than a break made by the users of the quarry, or simply soil slip. A large irregular elongated stone, just to the south of this break, suggested by Burrow [17] to be a possible gatepost, is most probably natural. Internally the main feature is a linear ridge of outcropping rock runningeast to west from near the entrance across most of the interior. It has been quarried for stone from the south side. To the south of this ridge there are several terraces which are probably natural features. There are also several small level areas which would have been suitable platforms for buildings although no definite evidence of any is evident. Though small and not strongly defended, this site is acceptable as a probably defensive settlement falling within the Iron Age period. The site is scheduled [15]. Published survey [14] 1:2500 accepted. [16] Brewer's Castle is very strongly fortified both by artifical defences and by natural features, despite its small size. The main defence is on the west side where there is a bank rising 2 metres from an external ditch. Around the other sides the defences are slighter, a low rubble bank and scarp being traceable around the circuit except on the northeast where there is a gap 4 metres wide, to the south of which is a large recumbent stone, possibly a gatepost. The interior is marked by a series of natural crags and terraces. Visited 1 April 1973. [17] Brewer's Castle was surveyed at 1:500 scale by the RCHME as part of the Exmoor project. There are two entrances, both appear to be original. That on the east is backed by 2 short banks while the north has simple inturned scarps. There is a length of revetment wall immediately south of this entrance. Parts of the ramparts appear to be vitrified. The interior is overgrown but three house platforms are visible among the trees and rock outcrops. [19] Scheduling revised with new national number (was Somerset 372) on 3 September 2004. [20] In private ownership. [21] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 9. [22] The site was surveyed in June 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 10. [23] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [24]

Sources/Archives (24)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1911. The Victoria History of the County of Somerset. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 2. Volume 2, 477 (CH Bothamley).
  • <3> Monograph: Ordnance Survey. 1962. Ordnance Survey Map of Southern Britain in the Iron Age. Ordnance Survey. 45.
  • <4> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Mid 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 25 August 1965.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Various. Scheduled Monument Notification . Department of the Environment (IAM) Ancient Monuments of England 2 1978 P.120.
  • <6> Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report. 1 April 1973.
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1973. 1:10000, 1973. 1:10,000.
  • <8> Monograph: Dobson, D.P.. 1931. The Archaeology of Somerset. P. 231.
  • <9> Photograph: Unknown. Unknown. PLAN OF BREWER'S CASTLE AT WITHYPOOL AND HAWKRIDGE. OS63/F374/4. B/W.
  • <10> Photograph: Victoria County History. 1906. IA HILLFORT (SMALLER THAN SS82NE2). BB73/4846A. B/W. Negative.
  • <11> Article in monograph: Jean Mellor. 1992. PPG16 one year on 56, 1992 .
  • <12> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1890, Somerset 57(13).
  • <13> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1904, Somerset 57(13).
  • <14> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1970. 1:2500 Map. 1:2500. Sheet SS 8829.
  • <15> Index: English Heritage. 1987. County List of Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Somerset 28 No:372.
  • <16> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 17 January 1996.
  • <17> Article in serial: Burrow, I.. 1981. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD. British Archaeological Reports. 91. P. 255-56.
  • <18> Monograph: Burrow, E.J.. 1924. Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset. P. 58.
  • <19> Report: Riley, H.. 1999. Mounsey Castle and Brewer's Castle: Two Iron Age Enclosures in the Barle Valley, Somerset. RCHME.
  • <20> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 21/9/2004. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <21> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
  • <22> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <23> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <24> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35635, Extant 25 January 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11720
  • Local List Status (No)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 82 NE1
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NBR Index Number: AF1351416
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35635
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34287



Grid reference Centred SS 8831 2976 (90m by 77m)
Map sheet SS82NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Jan 25 2022 3:56PM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.