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Historic England Research Records

Berry Castle

Hob Uid: 35939
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Porlock, Luccombe
Grid Ref : SS8591044950
Summary : Berry Castle is a late Iron Age or early Romano British hillslope enclosure visible as a series of earthworks. The interior shows no sign of any structures of platfroms but part may have been levelled. An outwork, 150m to the south west of the slope extends for 25m as a weak bank and ditch. The complex is scheduled.
More information : [SS 85924495] Berry Castle (NAT) Camp (NR). (1)

Berry Castle, situated on the slope of a steep and narrow headland at
the top of Honbush Wood, is a rectangular enclosure about 40 yds.
square cut off from the mainland to the south-west by a ditch which iscontinued at right-angles round the sides of the camp. (2)

A small promontory camp artificially fortified on the west but withoutany stone bank on the east, owing to the very steep slope on the
ground. (3)

Univallate hill-fort of under 3 acres. (4)
An unfinished encampment in a wood 1.5 miles S.W. of Porlock is said
to have been thrown up in 1052 when Porlock was invaded by Harold,
Godwin's son. The entrance is on the south and the upper north
trenches are very deep. `Swords and other instruments of war have
been found in its area'. [Savage's `south' is actually north-east,
his `north' south-west.] (5)

A strong bank and ditch forms three sides of a square on a N.E. facingslope. There is no indication that the N.E. side which must have contained the entrance, was ever closed by an earthwork. The gap in the S.W. side has been caused by the construction of the modern boundary bank. The S.W. half of the interior appears to have been levelled as if for a habitation or building site.
It is not a hill-fort, but could be an I.A. hill-slope enclosure
although its angularity is unusual. Savage's report is only of face
value, yet its situation size and plan suggest the possibility of a
medieval origin e.g. a farmstead or hunting lodge.
Surveyed at 1/2500. (6)

Higher up the spur, 380ft. S.W. of the main earthwork, is a much
slighter crossbank, a rampart and ditch running 80ft. N.W. form the
parish boundary hedgebank. This is presumably a similar outwork to
those occurring at other Somerset/Devon hill forts. (7)

Berry Castle, an enclosure probably Iron Age in date, is situated in
wood and overgrown with trees and scrub. A single bank and ditch on
the N. W and S sides peters out on the steep slope and the E side is
undefended. On the SE side a second outer bank and ditch has been
added for a short stretch. The banks are both about 4-5ft high on theinside and 8-10 ft. high from the ditch bottom, and all the banks and
ditches are about 21ft. across. The enclosure makes little sense
militarily, as it is overlooked by higher ground on the W side which
is not strongly defended. (8)

SS 859449, Berry Camp, three sides of a rectangular enclosure, perhaps unfinished, with an outer crossbank 115m up the ridge to the SW. "The earthworks are quite massive and the Ordnance Survey's interpretation
of the site as a medieval hunting lodge enclosure (see Authy 6) seems
improbable". There is no sign of an entrance, although its position
may have been obscured by the massive field wall, forming the parish
boundary, which bisects the site. (9)

Berry Castle is a typical Iron Age hillslope enclosure of massive
proportions. An outwork lies 140 paces up the slope above it, the
ditch of which was waterlogged when visited by Grinsell 31st May 1969.Savage's statement (Authy 5) that swords and other instruments of war
etc "is of doubtful value". (10)

(SS 85924495) Berry Castle (NAT)
Easrthwork (NR) (sic) (11)

Additional Bibliography. (12, 13, 14, 15).

Berry Castle, at SS 8592 4495, is situated on a shelf part way down a
steep 1 in 5 slope which runs for some 400 metres between two coombes
250 metres apart in a roughly S.W. - N.E. direction, i.e. from high
ground in the south west. The shelf is barely 70 metres wide and
extends for about 60 metres to the north east as a 1 in 15 slope
before reverting to 1 in 5. It is now in an area of old oak coppice.
Facing the steep upward slope to the south west is a massive bank 35
metres long with an outer ditch and a central gap of 7 metres at whichpoint it is traversed by a parish boundary bank which effectively
bisects the earthwork. To the south east of this bank the rampart is
about 7 metres wide, and 1.7 metres high internally; the ditch is 6
metres wide and 2 metres deep, with a flat bottom 2 metres wide. To
the north east side of the parish boundary bank there is the central
gap and rampart and ditch of similar width but much weaker, the bank
averaging only 0.6 metres high and the ditch 1.1 metres deep.
At each end, the earthwork makes a right angled turn to the north
east, that on the northern side ending after 30 metres, and that on
the southern side ending after 10 metres. Thus, most of the south
side and all of the north east defence is provided only by natural
slopes. The ramparts seem to be constructed solely of earth and
shillet with no signs of revetting.
The 7 metres gap probably incorporated the original entrance. Whybrow(7) suggests that it was of overlapping type but it is difficult to
see any evidence for this. For 3 metres the ditch has been infilled
with stone rubble to form a causeway which has also been used as a
basis for the boundary bank, resting on the southern side though a
bump in the bank indicates that the rampart at least went as far as
this.
The interior of the enclosure shows no signs of structures or
platforms but there is the impression of levelling near the south westside as noted by Palmer (6). In general the enclosure can be placed
in the Iron Age/Romano-British hillslope category.
The outwork, first noted by Whybrow, is at SS 8575 4484, 150 metres tothe south west up the slope, and 7 metres from the north side of the
parish bank. It extends for 25 metres at an angle of 45 degrees to
the hillslope, as a weak ditch and bank. The rushy flat-bottomed ditcis 4.5 metres wide and 0.6 metres deep, the bank on the lower side is
of similar width, barely 0.2 metres above the ditch but 1 metre high
on the north where material is spread down the slope.
Whybrow's plan shows it at right angles to the slope, with a short
continuation south of the parish boundary bank. There is, however, notrace of this or of any dip or bump on the hedgerow to suggest a
former continuation. The outwork may be associated with the enclosurebut does little to augment the defence of a settlement, secluded and
already difficult of access. It is arguable as to whether either or
both are unfinished. (16)

Generally as described by source (16). The site was surveyed at 1:1000 scale in April 1997, as part of the RCHME Exmoor Project. A full report, plan and land use/management overlay have been deposited in the NMR. The only significant addition is that the outwork continues further southwards than originally thought, covering a length of some 105 m. (17)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1962
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The Victoria history Somerset, volume two
Source details : (C H Bothamley)
Page(s) : 479
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2, 1911
Source Number : 11
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10000 1978
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Archaeology of Somerset 1931 (DP Dobson)
Page(s) : 206
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Ancient Ewks & Camps of Somer 1924 plan illust (EJ Burrow)
Page(s) : 62-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : M Aston
Page(s) : 98
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 127, 1983
Source Number : 15
Source : Earthwork of England : prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, Danish, Norman, and mediaeval
Source details :
Page(s) : 207
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 NVQ 31-JUL-87
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 17
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : R WILSON-NORTH & H RILEY 23 APR 1997 RCHME FIELD INVESTIGATION
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number :
Source : Berry Castle/ink survey
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source : Berry Castle
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number :
Source : Berry Castle/ink survey
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : (H St George Gray)
Page(s) : 73
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 74, 1928
Source Number : 4
Source : Ordnance Survey map of southern Britain in the Iron Age
Source details : 1962
Page(s) : 45
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : History of the Hundred of Carhampton 1830 (J Savage)
Page(s) : 91-2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JWP 24-JUN-65
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings
Source details : (C Whybrow)
Page(s) : 09-Nov
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 25, 1967
Source Number : 8
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : DOE (IAM) Record Form 24 1 77
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Hillfort and hill-top settlement in Somerset in the first to eighth centuries A.D.
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 91, 1981
Source Number : 10
Source : The archaeology of Exmoor : Bideford Bay to Bridgwater
Source details :
Page(s) : 79,85,201
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Enclosed Settlement, Hillfort
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Romano British
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Enclosed Settlement
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33931
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SO 155
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 84 SE 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SS 84 SE 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-06-24
End Date : 1965-06-24
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SS 84 SE 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1987-07-31
End Date : 1987-07-31