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Cow Castle

Hob Uid: 34989
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Exmoor
Grid Ref : SS7943037350
Summary : An Iron Age univallate hillfort enclosing 1.2 hectares is defined by a rampart of up to 2m in height with an external berm 4.5m wide. A stone revetment is visible on the external face of the rampart. A quarry ditch 5-7m wide follows the inner side of the rampart. It has a single entrance of 8m width on the eastern side . There are reported to be at least four house platforms within the enclosure, one is definitely visible but due to dense bracken coverage the others are not.
More information : [SS 7944 3734] Cow Castle (NR) (1)

Cow Castle, Exmoor - A univallate hillfort of under 3 acres (4) sited about 200 ft. above a bend of the River Barle. The bank is up to 10 ft. high with an outer ditch except where the slope makes this unnecessary (2). The entrance was on the SE and on the NE there is a modern opening through the rampart (3). (2-4)

Cow Castle occupies a defensive position encircling a knoll which lies in a broad, steep-sided valley. The hillfort consists of a single rampart (some fragments of retaining wall still survive) beyond which, on the N & W, is a berm. The gap in the NE is probably modern, that in the SE is original. See GP AO/65/183/7
Published survey (1/2500) revised. (5)

SS 795374 Cow Castle. Scheduled. (Listed under heading Camps and Settlements) (6)

Cow Castle covers 0.9 ha and is at a height of 235m OD. The defences consist of a mostly flat-topped bank which is apparently stone revetted on both inside and out. There is a silted ditch around the circuit. "The entrance gap on the SW is about 3m wide and the passage formed by the inturned ramparts in 9m deep, with vertical revetment stones visible on the S side". (There is no entrance gap or inturned ramparts shown on the SW on the plan by Authy 5. Perhaps Burrow refers to the entrance on the SE). The interior has very steep slopeson the W and N, but slopes more gently on the other two sides and there are possible hut platforms on the E side. Visited 30 3 73. (7)

Grinsell considers the orginal entrance to be in the NE, but he says Rainbird Clarke thought it to be in the SE where there is a small standing stone which could have formed part of its stonework. Allcroft mentions that the site is called Cow or Cae Castle. (8-9)

(SS 79443734) Cow Castle (NAT) Settlement (NR) (10)

Additional Bibliography. (11)

SS 794 373. Cow Castle. Listed in gazetteer as a univallate hillfort covering 1.1ha. (12)

Cow Castle, a univallate hilltop enclosure presumably of Iron Age date, is centred at SS 7945 3735. It occupies a steep-sided isolated knoll within the valley of the River Barle at its confluence with White Water, and therefore dominates the Barle valley.
The enclosure has an internal area of 1.2 hectares, most of which is on sloping ground. It is defined by a rampart up to 2m in height with an external berm 4.5m wide. On the southern side of the enclosure a stone revetment is visible on the external face of the rampart, and where it is best preserved, it survives as a coursed stone wall 0.8m high. A quarry ditch 5-7m wide follows the inner side of the rampart for most of its circuit.
The enclosure has a single entrance, 8m wide, on the eastern side. The ramparts are noticably higher on either side of the entrance, and the terminals have been heightened further. The northern one appears to be "T" - shaped or to turn both outwards and inwards. The same effect is noticeable though less pronounced on the southern terminal. An upright stone is visible on the external corner of the southern terminal, it is 0.65m high, 0.6m long and and 0.2m thick.
Source 13a reports that there are at least four house platforms within the enclosure on the northern side. These were not visible due to dense bracken. However, a slight platform was noticed at the north-western end of the enclosure, and there are several natural terraces on this side which would have been convenient locations for settlement. The quarry ditch may also have been used for buldings. (13a-13)

A large scale survey was undertaken by the Exeter Office of the RCHME for the Exmoor National Park Authority and as part of the RCHME Exmoor project in May 1997. The site was surveyed using GPS at a scale of 1:1000. The sites of probable prehistoric habitation were recorded, and an earthwork survey, contour plan and digital terrain model were produced. A detailed survey report is available from the archive (14-20).

The univallate hillfort of Cow Castle is clearly visible on aerial photographs examined as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Project in 2008. The platforms described by authority 13 above, however, are not discernible (21).

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1904
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : An Exploration of Exmoor 1890 95-6 (J L W Page)
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Source Number : 11
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : The N Devon Scenery Book 1863 51-2 (G Tugwell)
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Source Number : 12
Source : British Hillforts: an index
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Page(s) : 194
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Vol(s) : 62
Source Number : 13
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Wilson-North & Chapman H 11-OCT-1994 RCHME Field Investigation.
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Source Number : 14
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : N V Quinnell Pers. Comm.
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Source Number : 15
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Riley, H 1997 Cow Castle, Exmoor, Somerset: an archaeological survey by the RCHME
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Source Number : 16
Source : Cow Castle/ink survey
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Source Number : 17
Source : Cow Castle/pencil survey
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Source Number : 18
Source : Cow Castle/contour survey
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Source Number : 19
Source : Cow Castle/overlay
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Source Number : 20
Source : Cow Castle
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history Somerset, volume two
Source details :
Page(s) : 495 PLAN
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Vol(s) : 2 (1911)
Source Number : 21
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/96507 004-005 30-MAR-1996
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : OS Map Southern Britain in the I A 1962 45
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JP 01-SEP-65
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Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : DOE (IAM) AMs Eng 2 1978 120
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Source Number : 7
Source : Hillfort and hill-top settlement in Somerset in the first to eighth centuries A.D.
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Page(s) : 243
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Vol(s) : 91 (1981)
Source Number : 8
Source : The archaeology of Exmoor : Bideford Bay to Bridgwater
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Page(s) : 76,85,86,89
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Source Number : 9
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Earthwork of Eng 1908 174 (A H Allcroft)
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Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : OS 1:10000 1980
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Univallate Hillfort
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33005
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SO 341
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MSO6797
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 73 NE 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SS 73 NE 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-09-01
End Date : 1965-09-01
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: WEST EXMOOR PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01