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Bats Castle

Hob Uid: 36896
Location :
Somerset
Somerset West and Taunton
Carhampton
Grid Ref : SS9882042140
Summary : The earthwork remains of a substantial Iron Age univallate hillfort in Dunster Park, located on a fairly steep hilltop between Gallox Hill and Withycombe Hill. The hillfort is sub-rectangular in form, enclosing an area of approximately 1.4 hectares, and comprising a rampart and ditch with a strong counterscarp bank which has since been damaged. An outwork to the Hillfort can be seen some 200 metres to the south-east.The hillfort has two entrances, to the west and east. The latter is unusual with flanking ditches and banks and it has been suggested in the past that this is a later addition. More recent interpretation suggests that both entrances are contemporary. A hoard of eight silver plated coins was found in 1983 comprising coins dating from 102BC to AD350. The hoard was spread across an area of two square metres and was found by schoolboys, so not systematically excavated.
More information : [SS 9881 4213] Bat's Castle Camp [NR] (1)

Bat's Castle, an approximately circular enclosure with two banks of stone and a ditch between, situated on a hilltop. The hill is steep on the north and south, but fairly level on the east and west. One entrance is on the west, where the bank turns inwards to flank the passage. On either side there are remains of masonry, but the mortar is modern in character. The other entrance on the east, is peculiar, with the pathway continuing eastwards for c.25 yards as a raised platform, with a ditch along each side and an outer bank. On each side of this entrance are indications of shallow pits, very like riflepits which have been dug in the outer surface of the bank (2).

Univallate hillfort (under 3 acres) (3).
[See Illustrations Card.] (2-4)

"Bat's Castle" is a hill-slope enclosure with strong defences which bring it into the category of a small hill-slope fort. Bothamley's description of the entrances is inaccurate. That on the west is slightly clubbed with some modern mutilation. No mortared masonry is now visible. The unusual east entrance with its flanking banks and ditches is also inturned. The "rifle pits" recorded by Bothamley are insignificant. It is probable that the earthwork to the east (SS 94 SE 18) is associated with this hillfort.Surveyed at 1:2500. (5)

[SS 988 421] Bats Castle is a strongly defended Iron Age univallate hillfort on a hill crest. The east entrance is unusual, and from air photographs does not appear to be original. The ramparts have been damaged in several places and partly pushed forward into the ditch. (Visited by Burrow 4.4.73.) (6).

Ford Johnson (7) considers Black Ball Camp (SS 94 SE 4) to be a satellite of Bat's Castle, but also (8) says that the earthwork to the south-east (SS 94 SE 18) together with Bat's Castle forms a probable crossbank enclosure. Rainbird-Clarke (in about 1938-9) claimed that the eastern entrance and southern outworks (SS 94 SE 18) of Bats Castle were civil war additions (seige of Dunster Castle - SS 94 SE 6) (9).

Bats Castle was called Caesar's Camp by Page (18).(6-9)

[ST 988 422] Bat's Castle, scheduled. (10)

[SS 9881 4213] Bat's Castle [NAT] Settlement [NR] (11)

Additional bibliography. (12-18)

SS 988 421. Bat's Castle. Listed in gazetteer as a univallate hillfort covering 1.1ha. (19)

Bat's Castle was surveyed at 1:1000 scale using GPS as part of the RCHME Exmoor project. The site lies on the hilltop between Gallox Hill and Withycombe Hill, at 200m OD. A small hillslope enclosure lies on Gallox Hill 600m to the northwest (SS 94 SE 4). The outwork to the southeast of Bat's Castle was also surveyed, and is recorded as SS 94 SE 18.

The defences enclose a sub-rectangular area 140x100m. They consist of a rampart and ditch with a strong counterscarp bank. The overall width of the defences is some 20-25m. The ramparts are very stony, with much loose material on the surface, and it would appear that stone extraction has taken place in the past. This would account for the rifle pits and "tourelles" described by Allcroft and Bothamley (2,12).

There are two original entrances. The western entrance is a simple passage through the defences, with an inturn to the south. The eastern entrance is more complex. The inner ramparts thicken and inturn. The ditch and counterscarp turn sharply away from the hillfort to forn a causeway 50m long and 6m wide. There is no reason to suppose that this entrance is later than the main defensive work, as suggested by Burrow and Rainbird-Clarke (6,9). A third breach of the defensive circuit is caused by the well established track which runs between the two enclosures to Withycombe Hill Gate (20)

Narrow ridging fills the interior. Preece (in the SMR) notes that these may be from growing potatoes here in WWII; the ridges are not visible on 1947 air photographs (21).

A coin hoard was discovered in the ramparts in 1983. It comprised 8 coins dated 102BC-350 AD. Details in SMR.

The hillfort of Bat's Castle and associated outwork were clearly visible on aerial photographs surveyed as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme (26-27).

Additional reference. (28)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1962
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 2
Source : The Victoria history Somerset, volume two
Source details : (C H Bothamley)
Page(s) : 484-86
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : The archaeology of Exmoor : Bideford Bay to Bridgwater
Source details :
Page(s) : 72,77,80,87,155,201
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Source Number : 12
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : DOE (IAM) AMs Eng 2 1978 119
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 13
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10000 1974
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 14
Source : Earthwork of England : prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, Danish, Norman, and mediaeval
Source details :
Page(s) : 197-8
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Source Number : 15
Source : The archaeology of Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 238
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : Ancient earthworks and camps of Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 84-85
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Source Number : 17
Source : South and west Somerset
Source details :
Page(s) : 158-9
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Source Number : 18
Source : Somerset archaeology and natural history : the proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society
Source details : Parish Surveys in Somerset 3: Carhampton No D3 (J Dixon)
Page(s) : 15
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3, 1980
Source Number : 19
Source : History of the Hundred of Carhampton
Source details :
Page(s) : 289
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Source Number : 20
Source : An Exploration of Exmoor and the Hill Country of West Somerset: With Notes on Its Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 200-201
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Source Number : 3
Source : Ordnance Survey map of southern Britain in the Iron Age
Source details :
Page(s) : 45
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Source Number : 21
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Riley H 1998 RCHME Field Investigation
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Source Number : 22
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 3017-19 11-APR-1947
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 23
Source : British Hillforts: an index
Source details :
Page(s) : 197
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Vol(s) : 62
Source Number : 25
Source : Bats Castle/ink survey
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Source Number : 26
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF CPE/UK/1980 4217-19 11-APR-1947
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Source Number : 27
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SS 9482/28 (DAP 6804/13) 15-MAR-1990
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 28
Source : England's Landscape: The South West
Source details :
Page(s) : 56
Figs. : 3.12
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Source Number : 4
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : AP (J K St Joseph CG.067)
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 02-SEP-65
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Source Number : 6
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : NMR SS 9842/1 SS 9842/2 SS 9842/4
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Source Number : 7
Source : Hillfort and hill-top settlement in Somerset in the first to eighth centuries A.D.
Source details :
Page(s) : 243-44
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 91
Source Number : 8
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : (J Forde Johnson)
Page(s) : 86-87
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 119, 1962
Source Number : 9
Source : Hillforts of the Iron Age in England and Wales : a survey of the surface evidence
Source details :
Page(s) : 137,206,224-5,231-2
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Source Number : 10
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Card Index Catalogue of Exmoor Monuments (R R Clarke)
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -102
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Univallate Hillfort
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 350
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find

Components and Objects:
Period : Iron Age
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : COIN HOARD
Object Material : Metal
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : COIN HOARD
Object Material : Metal

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 24002
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Somerset)
External Cross Reference Number : 33442
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MSO9082
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Register of Parks and Gardens Legacy No.
External Cross Reference Number : GD1436
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 1184166
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 94 SE 17
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 36899
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1218790
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SS 94 SE 17
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-09-02
End Date : 1965-09-02
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01