MSO9316 - Mounsey Castle, Dulverton (Monument)


An Iron Age hillfort of 1.75 hectares, on a promontory just south of the confluence of the Barle and Danes Brook. It is an irregular triangular earthwork, defined by the remains of coursed stone walling, with an entrance to the west.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 8856 2955) Mounsey Castle (NAT) Camp (NR) [1] Mounsey Castle stands on a high promontory just south of the confluence of the Barle and Danes Brook. It is an irregular triangular earthwork with the curved base running almost due east to west and the apex pointing northeast. There are entrances are at the west end of the northeast bank and at the southwest corner. The enclosure is about 170 yards across the base of the triangle and 200 yards from this base to the apex. [2] Mounsey Castle is a univallate hillfort of under 3 acres. [3] Mounsey Castle is a promontory fort at the southern end of a steep sided ridge. The defence evidently consisted of a coursed stone wall supplemented by scarping the natural slope. Along the south side intermittent sections of walling survive up to 0.5 metres high and 4.0 metres thick. Elsewhere there is a low bank, or merely the scarp, on which tumbled stone occurs throughout. A quarry ditch is visible within most of the perimeter. The entrance on the west is certainly original and may have been approached from the southeast by a banked way. The other gap, in the north east, may have been caused by a modern terraced track from the valley below. A small rectangular structure with evidence of chimney, at SS 8860 2949, is probably a charcoal burners hut. Surveyed at 1/2500. [4] SS 886 295. Mounsey Castle. Scheduled. (Listed under 'Camps and Settlements'). [5] Mounsey Castle, in a semi-promontory position with a steep drop to the river on the west, is a roughly triangular shaped fort. The defences are univallate on the southeast and east sides with a ditch and counterscarp on the south. On the west the rampart runs along the top of a very steep slope down to the Barle. On the south the inner rampart can be seen to consist of a drystone wall about 3 metres thick still surviving several courses high. Behind the west rampart about 40 metres north of the south-west entrance is a large recumbent slab, possibly a fallen standing stone. Visited 1 April 1973. [6] Legend has it that a stone at Mounsey Castle fell from the Devil's apron as he was on his way to build Tarr Steps. [7] Additional bibliography. [8-10] In private ownership. [11] Listed in gazetteer as a univallate hillfort covering 1.75 hectares. [12] ounsey Castle was surveyed at a scale of 1:1000 by the RCHME as part of the Exmoor project. Some features are difficult to see because of undergrowth. [13] Scheduling revised (to include outwork MSO12715) with new national number (was Somerset 373) on 3 September 2004. [14] Banks of earth and boulders disturbed by trees, up to 1.75 metres high. [16] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 6. [20] The interior of the enclosure is densely covered in bracken. Although vegetation damage poses a threat to the any subsurface archaeological features the vegetation provides valuable wildlfe habitation. The site is also within a SSSI and as such the Somerset Wildlife Trust (leaseholders of the site) are reluctant to allow clearance. However, work was undertaken to clear the remainder of the site of beech saplings, which if allowed to grow could damage the archaeology. [21] The site was surveyed in June 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 9. [22] In 1883, it was noted that just near the brow of the hill, hidden by thick underwood, was a massive earth and stone wall or rampart, which "went quite round the hill" and apparently loosely constucted but with some more careful construction. A ditch from six to twelve feet wide ran along the inside. [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, 492-493 (CH Bothamley).
  • <3> Monograph: Ordnance Survey. 1962. Ordnance Survey Map of Southern Britain in the Iron Age. Ordnance Survey. p45.
  • <4> Unpublished document: PALMER, JP. Mid 1960s. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 25 August 1965.
  • <5> Index: Department of the Environment (IAM). 1978. List of Ancient Monuments of England and Wales 1978. P. 120.
  • <6> Article in serial: Burrow, I.. 1981. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD. British Archaeological Reports. 91. 240-241.
  • <7> Article in serial: Monday, A. J.. 1883. Two Somerset Wills. Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society. 29. P. 61-68.
  • <8> Monograph: Burrow, E.J.. 1924. Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset. P. 88.
  • <9> Monograph: Page, J.L.W.. 1890. An Exploration of Exmoor and the Hill Country of West Somerset: With Notes on its Archaeology. P. 85-86.
  • <10> Monograph: Dobson, D.P.. 1931. The Archaeology of Somerset. P. 247.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records.
  • <12> Article in monograph: Hogg, A.H.A.. 1979. British Hillforts: An Index. Occasional Papers of the Hill-Fort Study Group; No.1. British Archaeological Reports. p62.
  • <13> Report: Riley, H.. 1999. Mounsey Castle and Brewer's Castle: Two Iron Age Enclosures in the Barle Valley, Somerset. RCHME.
  • <14> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 21/9/2004. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <15> Monograph: Dulverton and District Civic Society. 2002. The Book of Dulverton, Brushford, Bury and Exebridge. Halsgrove. P.9.
  • <16> Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report.
  • <17> Photograph: Unknown. Unknown. PLAN OF MOUNSEY CASTLE AT DULVERTON. OS63/F374/7. B/W.
  • <18> Photograph: Victoria County History. 1906. PROMONTORY FORT. BB73/04846. B/W. Negative.
  • <19> Collection: Victoria County History. 1899-1912. Victoria History of the Counties of England: Illustrations and Proofs.
  • <20> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <21> Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2009. Monument Management Scheme: 2008-9 Report. P. 10.
  • <22> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <23> Article in serial: Unknown. 1883. Thursday's Excursion. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Nat. 29. Part 1, 58-80. pp 60, 62.
  • <24> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35638, Extant 25 January 2022.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • AIP Record Number: E.40.4085
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11207
  • Local List Status (No)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 82 NE2
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35638
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33538
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33539



Grid reference Centred SS 8855 2956 (196m by 201m)
Map sheet SS82NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Jan 25 2022 4:23PM


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