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Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record caveat document.

Name:Mounsey Castle, Dulverton
ENPHER Monument Number:MSO9316
Type of Record:Monument
Grid Reference:SS 8855 2956


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.


Mounsey Castle. 2008  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Mounsey Castle. 2008 © Exmoor National Park Authority

Mounsey Castle. 2009  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Mounsey Castle. 2009 © Exmoor National Park Authority

Mounsey Castle. 2006  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Mounsey Castle. 2006 © Exmoor National Park Authority

Monument Types


[SS 88562955] 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 north-east. There are entrances are at the west end of the north-east bank and at te south-west 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 south-east 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 88602949, is probably a charcoal burners hut. Surveyed at 1/2500. (4)

SS 886295. 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 south-east 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 01/04/1973. (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)

In private ownership. (11)

Listed in gazetteer as a univallate hillfort covering 1.75 hectares. (12)

Some features are difficult to see because of undergrowth. (13)

Scheduling revised (to include outwork MSO12715) with new national number (was Somerset 373) on 3/9/2004. (14)

Banks of earth and boulders disturbed by trees, up to 1.75m high. (16)

The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009 records Mounsey as in poor condition and at high risk. It has suffered severe damage from vegetation. (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)

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SEM7220 - Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
[2]SMO5358 - Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1911. The Victoria History of the County of Somerset. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 2. Bothamley, C. H. Volume 2, P. 492-493.
[3]SMO5622 - Monograph: Ordnance Survey. 1962. Ordnance Survey Map of Southern Britain in the Iron Age. Ordnance Survey.
[4]SMO5103 - Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigators Comments. F1 Palmer, J. 25/08/1965.
[5]SEM7732 - Index: Department of the Environment (IAM). 1978. List of Ancient Monuments of England and Wales 1978. P. 120.
[6]SSO825 - Article in serial: Burrow, I.. 1981. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD. British Archaeological Reports. 91. 240-241.
[7]SEM7733 - Article in serial: Monday, A. J.. 1883. Two Somerset Wills. Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society. 29. P. 61-68.
[8]SSO820 - Monograph: Burrow, E.J.. 1924. Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset. P. 88.
[9]SSO1778 - 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]SSO1046 - Monograph: Dobson, D.P.. 1931. The Archaeology of Somerset. P. 247.
[11]SSO1 - Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files.
[12]SMO4712 - 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.
[13]SSO1891 - Report: Riley H. 1999. Mounsey Castle and Brewer's Castle: two iron age enclosures in the Barle Valley, Somerset. RCHME report.
[14]SSO1139 - Unpublished document: English Heritage. 21/9/2004. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
[15]SEM7523 - Monograph: Dulverton and District Civic Society. 2002. The Book of Dulverton, Brushford, Bury and Exebridge. Halsgrove. P.9.
[16]SSO1247 - Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report.
[17]SMO1177 - Photograph: PLAN OF MOUNSEY CASTLE AT DULVERTON. OS63/F374/7. B/W.
[18]SMO165 - Photograph: PROMONTORY FORT. BB73/04846. B/W.
[19]SMO6075 - Collection: Victoria History of the Counties of England: Illustrations and Proofs.
[20]SEM7402 - Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
[21]SEM7897 - Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2009. Monument Management Scheme: 2008-9 Report. P. 10.

Related records

MSO11208Parent of: Charcoal burners hut, Mounsey Castle, Mounsey Wood, Dulverton (Monument)
MSO12715Parent of: Outwork, Mounsey Castle (Monument)

Other References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11207
  • Local List Status (No)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 82 NE2
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 35638
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33538
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33539
Date Last Edited:Feb