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Historic England Research Records

Countisbury Castle

Hob Uid: 35152
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Lynton and Lynmouth
Grid Ref : SS7401049420
Summary : The substantial earthworks of an Iron Age promontory fort known as Countisbury Castle, but more commonly referred to as Wind Hill, have been surveyed by field investigators at 1:2500 and transcribed from aerial photographs. The defensive earthworks, which comprise an east-facing bank and ditch with a broad low counterscarp bank, cross a saddle of land between sea cliffs to the north and the precipitous slopes of the East Lyn Valley on the south. The earthworks are broken by the modern route of the A39 and an original entrance, to the east of which extends an outworks. The southern end of the western rampart is abutted an extended westwards by a lynchet of probable medieval date.
More information : (SS 7386 4953 to SS 74104922) Earthwork (NR). (1)

Countisbury or Shoulsbury Camp, SW of the village IA promontory fort - univallate (4), with ditch and rampart on the E. The ditch is 4-5 feet deep, the rampart 29 feet above the bottom of the ditch. Class C earthwork - Simple defensive enclosure (2). (2-4)

The earthwork crosses a neck of land extending from the sea
cliff on the N to the precipitous slopes of the East Lyn Valley
on the S, and isolating a hilltop of 800.0m by 300.0m.

It is defensive and comprises an E facing bank and ditch with a
broad low counterscarp bank. The southern half crosses relatively
level ground where a natural bluff must have been utilized to
produce an outer slope to the rampart 8.0m in height while inner
slope and outer ditch are comparatively weak.

There are two breaks in the feature, an original simple entrance
at SS 74054935 and a modern break where the main road has been
terraced through the earthwork.

A promontory settlement. Its local name seems to be Countisbury
Camp and this is preferable to the suggested alternative of
Shoulsbury to avoid confusion with the "Shoulsbury Camp" eight
miles distant at SS 7039.
OS 1:2500 survey revised. (5)

The site was surveyed by staff of RCHME during April 1994, for further information see archive report. (6)

SS 73894948; SS 74064935. Artificial defences of Iron Age promontory fort known as Countisbury Castle, but more commonly referred to as Wind Hill. Rampart with ditch to east and counterscarp bank beyond. The remains of a defensive outwork survive forward of the entrance. This is visible as a scarp which extends in a curve in front of the main defences. It is thought that this site may be the fortified hill where the Viking Ubba was defeated by the Anglo-Saxons in 878. Scheduled. (7)

The substantial earthworks of an Iron Age promontory fort known as Countisbury Castle have been transcribed from aerial photographs as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme Survey. The earthworks, which are probably at least partly defensive in function, comprise an east-facing bank and ditch which crosses a saddle of land between sea cliffs to the north and the slopes of the East Lyn Valley to the south. The southern end of the western rampart is abutted by a lynchet of probable medieval date, at circa SS 74084926, that extends south-westwards for almost 100 metres. The eastern rampart is largel obscured from the survey by extant hedgerows and vegetation, and has only partially been transcribed. The earthworks are broken by the modern route of the A39 at circa SS 73974944 and an original entrance at circa SS 74054936, to the east of which extends an outworks, visible on aerial photographs largely as an irregularly shaped shallow ditch. The north-western end of the outworks may have been modified by later, possibly medieval, prospection pits. (8-10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1962
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Source Number : 2
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Devon : volume one
Source details : (J Charles Wall)
Page(s) : 605
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Vol(s) : 1, 1906
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Source : Countisbury Castle
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Source : Countisbury Castle/ink survey
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Source Number : 3
Source : Devon
Source details :
Page(s) : 79
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Source Number : 4
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Letter - Lady Aileen Fox dated Aug 2 1962 (File AO/SP/ )
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 09-NOV-73
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : RCHME Field Investigation 19-APR-1994 IS Sainsbury
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Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : EH Scheduling amendment, 16-OCT-2002
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Source Number : 8
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 540/902 (F20) 4026-7 10-OCT-52
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Source Number : 9
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/72065 029 15-APR-1972
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Source Number : 10
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/95026 054 12-MAR-1995
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Promontory Fort, Hillfort
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Lynchet
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DV 28
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : SS74NW7
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 33056
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 684
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MDE1236
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 74 NW 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SS 74 NW 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1973-11-09
End Date : 1973-11-09
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: WEST EXMOOR PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SS 74 NW 3
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1994-04-19
End Date : 1994-04-19
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01
Associated Activities : Primary, COUNTISBURY CASTLE, WIND HILL
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31