MSO9083 - Iron Age crossridge outwork and field banks southeast of Bat's Castle (Monument)


An outwork to the Iron Age hillfort of Bat's Castle, comprising a zig-zag bank and ditch 150 metres southeast of the hillfort.

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Type and Period (5)

Protected Status

Full Description

An earthwork is marked at SS 9904 4201 on the 1962 Ordnance Survey map. [1] A zig-zag bank of stones and earth, with a shallow ditch in front, situated about 140 yards southeast of Bat's Castle. Its total length is about 200 yards, and is 15 to 18 feet high. It is clearly of much later date than the camp and is probably one of the earthworks thrown up during the siege of Dunster Castle in the Civil War. [2] There is no reason to suppose that this earthwork is of Civil War date. From its construction and situation (out of sight of Dunster Castle) it seems improbable. It crosses the approach to 'Bats Castle' and, with its strong bank and outer ditch, is most likely to be associated with the hillfort. Surveyed at 1:2500. [3] This earthwork, of the crossbank type, together with Bats Castle forms a probable Iron Age 'crossbank enclosure'. [4] The outwork to Bat's Castle was surveyed at 1:1000 scale using GPS as part of the RCHME Exmoor Project. The earthwork lies 150 metres to the southeast of Bat's Castle. It comprises a bank and ditch, 170 metres long with an overall width of 15 metres, arranged in a 'zig-zag' across the ridge where Bat's Castle is at its most vulnerable. The bank is 1.5 metres high at its southern end, rising to 3 metres by the gap, which may well be an original entrance. [7-9] The outwork can be seen on most aerial photographs of the area. [12,13,23] There is a cross ridge spur defence, guarding the approach to the hillfort. The banks are 1.5 metres high and prominent. They are crossed by a trackway leading from the enclosure to Aller Hill. The earthworks are undisturbed. [14] The trackway has been cut through the earthwork. The earthwork is well preserved, under a good vegetation cover. There are no real clues as to its date or purpose, and although it is likely to be prehistoric, the angles of the earthwork are sharply defined. [15] Across the other end of the ridge to Bat's Castle is a sinuous rampart up to 2.1 metres high, with an external ditch up to 0.9 metres deep, both fading towards the ends. There is no apparent entrance gap though a zig-zag would be a defensible passage. The bank extends further than previously mapped. The work does not cross the entire ridge and its main purpose may not have been defensive. It may have been an advance display of the fort or a lookout, on the blind approach. Similar features are associated with Trendle Ring and with other forts on Exmoor. Running from close to the north end of the earthwork are two short lengths of field bank, one forming a third side of an area behind the main work, the other running away from the main work into an area of deep-ploughing which has destroyed it beyond. These are probably remnants of a prehistoric field system contemporary with the hillfort (See also MSO12261). [16] The outworks were rescheduled on 25th February 1994 with a new national number. The old number was Somerset 245b. [17] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 10. [21] The site was surveyed in May 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 10. [22] 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. P.484-486 (CH Bothamley).
  • <3> Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 2 August 1965.
  • <4> Article in monograph: Forde-Johnston, J.L.. 1976. Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales: A Survey of the Surface Evidence. Liverpool University Press. P.206.
  • <5> Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgwater. David and Charles Limited. P.80, 87.
  • <6> Article in serial: Dixon, J.. 1980. Somerset Parish Survey 3: Carhampton. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. P.15, No D2.
  • <7> Technical drawing: Riley, H. and Wilson-North, R.. 1998. Bats Castle/ink survey. 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <8> Collection: RCHME Exeter. 1993-1999. Exmoor Project.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1998.
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Griffith, F.. 1980s-1990s. Oblique aerial photographs of the Devon part of Exmoor National Park. DAP/OF 9, 10 (1989).
  • <11> Aerial photograph: Griffith, F.. 1980s-1990s. Oblique aerial photographs of the Devon part of Exmoor National Park. DAP/AAU 01, 02 (1996).
  • <12> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 4217-18 (11 April 1947).
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 9842/28 (DAP 6804/13) (15 March 1990).
  • <14> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. LHL CPE.UK.1980 3017 and 3190 (April 1947).
  • <15> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. Site visit, E Dennison, Somerset County Council, 3 March 1989.
  • <16> Report: Preece, A.. 1993-1994. English Heritage Monument Protection Programme.
  • <17> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 04/03/1994. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <18> Report: Various. Various. Field Monument Warden Report. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission.
  • <19> Photograph: Somerset County Council Planning Department. Slide. 3.005.0036-0043 (July 1979).
  • <20> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS9841 and SS9942.
  • <21> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <22> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <23> Archive: Toms, K.. 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 94 SE. MD002187.
  • <24> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 36899, Extant 17 May 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO220
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11136
  • Local List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE18
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 36899
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33443
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 34264



Grid reference Centred SS 9904 4201 (183m by 167m) Estimated from sources
Map sheet SS94SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

May 17 2022 2:30PM


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