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HER Number:MDV10688
Name:Farway Castle

Summary

An earthwork enclosure identified as an Iron Age farmstead, sited within a plantation of trees on a wide ridge of level ground. Includes a large circular enclosure created by a bank with an external ditch.

Location

Grid Reference:SY 160 955
Map Sheet:SY19NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishFarway
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishFARWAY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 24851
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY19NE/8
  • Old SAM County Ref: 253
  • Old SAM Ref: 24851
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SY19NE7

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ENCLOSURE (Iron Age - 700 BC to 42 AD (Between))

Full description

Ministry of Works, Farway Castle (Schedule Document). SDV342862.

A small circular ringwork of uncertain date, but not sited defensively. Interior is 200 feet diameter, defined by a bank 2.5 feet high, and a wet ditch, measuring 40 feet overall. There is no entrance, possibly a ring or disc barrow of Bronze Age. Good condition, planted with pines in early 19th century.


Riley, H., 06/2011, Survey at Farway Castle, Farway, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV358613.

Farway Castle comprises three elements: a circular bank, an external ditch and a counterscarp bank (Fig 9). The bank encloses a circular area 51m N/S and 50m E/W; the whole site measures 73m N/S and 72m E/W. The bank has a smooth, U-shaped profile (Figs 10 & 11). The top of the bank is 1-2m wide and
measures 1.2-1.4m from the top of the bank to the bottom of the ditch. The ditch bottom is 2m wide, but widens to over 5m in the southwest quadrant which is occupied by standing water for much of the year and represents the remains of a stock-watering pond (below) (Fig 13). There are several hollows in the bottom of the ditch which may be original features showing how the ditch was dug in segments, or which may be the result of modification in the post-medieval period (Fig 12). The counterscarp bank is present to the north, northeast and south. It is most prominent to the north where it is 2m wide and 0.4m high; elsewhere it is 0.5-1m wide and 0.2m high. To the north the counterscarp has been destroyed by a recent track, to the southwest by the pond and to the west by post-medieval agriculture. A small stone clearance heap on the counterscarp bank to the northwest is a result of post- medieval agriculture.

There are four breaches in the bank: to the northwest, southwest, northeast and southwest. That to the northwest has no corresponding break in the ditch and is most likely to be a result of later modification, however it does oppose a gap in the bank with a corresponding break in the counterscarp bank and the possibility that these breaks were original entrances which have been blocked remains. The other two breaches may also be modified original entrances: that to the northeast has a marked break in the ditch, while the way through the entrance has the appearance of blocking. Opposing this, the break in the bank to the southwest is emphasised by a thickening of the bank as it approaches the gap; the ditch here forms part of the pond.

The interior of the site is level. In the northern part of the site the interior is the same height as the surrounding ground; to the south the interior is 0.2-0.4m above the surrounding ground, suggesting that the interior has been deliberately but very subtly levelled (Fig 10). There are several tree throws across the interior of Farway Castle; the more regular linear hollows could be the result of activity here in WWII, as noted on barrows on Farway Hill and on Gittisham Hill (Farway 5, Gittisham 10)(Simpson and Noble 1993, 16; 21). The regular circular mounds are formed at the base of large, decayed conifers.

Since its recognition in the landscape in the 18th century, Farway Castle has been variously interpreted. In the 18th century it was described as a Danish fort (Milles 1747-1762b, Farway parish). Kirwan was the first to link Farway Castle with the barrow cemetery, his initial interpretation was that the people who built the barrows lived in the enclosure (1868, 623); in a later paper he saw it as a British hill fort (1871, 649). Aileen Fox was impressed by the wealth of material from the Farway barrow complex in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. In a paper aiming to make the importance of this barrow group more widely known she had two suggestions about Farway Castle: 'If it is not the work of an 18th century Lord of the Manor (protecting a plantation), I think it may be assumed to be that of Bronze Age man: analogies with ring ditches or henge monuments as at Dorchester, Oxon, would not be hard to find' (Fox 1948, 3). Farway Castle was interpreted as a Bronze Age monument of ritual type and part of the Farway necropolis by Norman Quinnell of the Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division (NMR SY19NE 7). The latest scheduling document interpreted Farway Castle as an Iron Age earthwork enclosure (English Heritage National Heritage List for England 101424243). This large scale survey strongly suggests that Farway Castle is a prehistoric funerary or ceremonial enclosure at the heart of the Farway barrow complex. The morphology of the site - a regular, circular bank with an external ditch - suggests that it is a henge monument. The majority of henge monuments have an internal ditch, but external ditches are not uncommon. The first phase at Stonehenge is an earthwork monument consisting of a circular, segmented bank, enclosing an area with a diameter of c 90m, with external ditch and
traces of a counterscarp bank. The single entrance to the northeast faces the midsummer sunrise (Cleal et al 1995). The Priddy Circles on the Mendip Hills in North Somerset are four earthwork sites, each consisting of a circular bank, enclosing an area with a diameter of c 150m, with external ditch and a single entrance (Taylor and Tratman 1957). Henge monuments often lie at the heart of complex ceremonial landscapes: Stonehenge and Avebury are the most obvious examples (Cleal et al 1995; Pollard and Reynolds 2002). In West Dorset a concentration of henge monuments around Dorchester are flanked by barrow groups on the South Dorset Ridgeway which in turn have their own internal groupings, often around a long barrow (Woodward 2000; Riley 2008). The uplands of South West
England contain numerous examples of barrow cemeteries containing circular ceremonial monuments. On Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor stone monuments are an important component of the prehistoric landscape, for example the landscape around the Stowe's Pound and Craddock Moor on Bodmin Moor
(Johnson and Rose 1994, 30, fig 30), where stone circles and standing stones form part of an extensive prehistoric ceremonial complex. On the Quantock Hills, ring cairns and large, low circular platform cairns are often associated with barrows (Riley 2006, 41).

Radiocarbon dating puts henge monuments in the first half of the third millennium BC, between about 3000 and 2400 BC, the later Neolithic period. Recent work on excavated material from the Farway barrow complex gives a date range for the barrows between 2210-1660 BC, the earlier Bronze Age (Jones and Quinnell 2008). Although henges and other circular ceremonial monuments (timber circles, ring banks, ring cairns, enclosed cremation cemeteries, penannular ring ditches) continue into the Bronze Age (Gibson 2005, 29), it appears that Farway Castle may be one of the earliest ceremonial
monuments of the Farway barrow complex. Some 1.4km to the northwest of Farway Castle, on Gittisham Hill, is another earthwork enclosure. This slight earthwork was discovered and surveyed in 1982 by Norman Quinnell (NMR SY19NW 26; Quinnell and Jones 2008, 53). The enclosure is circular and is formed by two concentric banks, 0.1-0.3m high, some 10m apart, enclosing an internal area 50m in diameter. A small barrow constructed on top of the inner bank in the southwest of the enclosure gives a relative date for the enclosure and suggests it is an early element in the Farway barrow complex (Quinnell and Jones 2008, fig 2).

A further element to the prehistoric ceremonial landscape around Farway Castle are stone monuments: a standing stone at Putt's Corner on Gittisham Hill and a barrow on Ball Hill, south of Broad Down, surrounded by a ring of stones (Farway 32). This barrow was excavated by Kirwan in 1870. Hutchinson described it as 'surrounded by a shallow fosse and a ring of large detached stones' (Butler 2000, 209; plan and sketch reproduced in Noble and Simpson 1993, figs 13.4; 16.7). The stones were removed in 1871 (Hutchinson 1880). Further probable standing stones have been recorded from historic maps and documents (Torrance 2009).

Although the morphology of the monuments and the radiocarbon dates indicate a period of use for the Farway barrow complex from the later Neolithic to the earlier Bronze Age (c 3000-1600 BC), it is clear from artefacts from the 19thcentury barrow excavations that the area continued to be used as a special place into the Middle and Late Bronze Age. A hoard of Middle Bronze Age (1400-1275 BC) palstaves were found at the Lovehayne Barrow, south of Ball Hill (Southleigh 5) (Fig14; Butler 2000, 139, 157), and a single palstave was found near Farway Castle (Kirwan 1871). A possible spearhead of Middle or Late Bronze Age type was buried in a round barrow on Broad Down (Farway 44) (Worth 1899, 95-7,plates II-III); copper alloy fragments - chunks of ingots of Late Bronze Age type - were found beside or under the stone kerb of a barrow on Gittisham Hill (Gittisham 3) (Kirwan 1870). A socketed axe of Late Bronze
Age date (1020-800 BC) was found inserted into the side of a round barrow on Ball Hill, north of Broad Down (Fig 15; Butler 2000, 209).

Further emphasising the importance of the area in the later Bronze Age is the cross ridge dyke at the Three Horseshoes Inn, south of the Farway barrow complex. This is a linear ditch and bank, surviving as an earthwork and a below ground feature, which runs for 500m N/S across the ridge. It was recognised by Hutchinson who recorded it as an earthwork in 1872 (Butler 2010, 25, 29, maps DRO 72/6/14-1; 78/8/23). Excavation of a section in the 1990s gave a prehistoric radiocarbon date. The site was probably a territorial boundary marker dating from c 1500-500 BC (English Heritage National Heritage List for
England 101771).

The potential of the area for Bronze Age settlement sites is shown by a search of the Devon HER which records eight cropmark enclosures of unknown or prehistoric date and by the excavations in advance of the A30 Honiton to Exeter Improvement between 1996 and 1999. Part of a Middle Bronze Age farm and co-axial field system was excavated at Castle Hill; a single round house dating to early in the Middle Bronze Age was excavated at Patteson's Cross, and a Middle to Late Bronze Age enclosed farmstead was excavated at Hayne Lane (Fitzpatrick et al 1999). These sites are west of Honiton in the Otter Valley and c 5km northwest of the Farway barrow complex.

Medieval and post-medieval history
Farway Hill survives as an island of unenclosed heath land, part of what was once a much larger area of heath occupying the ridge tops across East Devon. This was an important grazing resource in the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly for cattle in the spring and summer months. Ponds were dug to provide water for stock: Hutchinson's watercolour shows cattle drinking from Ring in the Mire (Butler 2000, 88, DRO 54/7/25-5). The standing water in the ditch at Farway Castle (Fig 13) probably fulfilled the same function. Dating the ponds is difficult. Ring in the Mire, marking the meeting of four parishes, is clearly a landmark of some antiquity (Planel 2007) and is marked on the OS map of 1806 (Searle 1806) and probably shown as a circular feature on the Gittisham tithe map (Gittisham 1838). The pond in the ditch at Farway Castle is not depicted until the OS 1st edition map of 1889, but would probably have been too small a feature to have been mapped by the tithe surveyors.

Similar ponds have been identified on the heaths of the Quantock Hills, one of these, Withyman's Pool, lies at the very edge of a large Bronze Age barrow, part of a ceremonial complex running west-east across the hills and dates from the medieval period (Riley 2006, 111, fig 2.21a). The ponds and standing water at Farway Castle and Ring in the Mire have the potential to have been important places in the Middle and Late Bronze Age (Bradley 2000).

The conifers on Farway Castle are the most visually striking part of Farway Castle today. Many of the other ceremonial monuments of the Farway barrow complex have been planted by conifers and documentary evidence shows that the trees were substantial landscape features by the end of the 18th century (Gray 1988, 107; Searle 1806). By 1871 one on Farway Castle was 56 feet high (Butler 2010, 7). This ornamenting of the natural landscape beyond the confines of landscape park and garden was probably carried out by Thomas Putt (‘Black Tom Putt’) (1722-1787), owner of the Combe Estate. He gave his name to the Tom Putt apple, planted Bellevue Hill with beech trees and created the terraced
gardens at Combe.


Hutchinson, P. O., 1848-1894, Diaries (Un-published). SDV339321.

Diary entries for 19/10/1852 and 15/07/1871.


Kirwan, R., 1868, Memoir of the Examination of Three Barrows at Broad Down, Farway, near Honiton, 623 (Article in Serial). SDV123831.


Hutchinson, P. O., 1868, On Hill Fortresses, Sling-Stones, and other Antiquities in South Eastern Devon, 58 (Article in Serial). SDV120058.

Circular entrenchment 60 metres in diameter.


Kirwan, R., 1868, Sepulchral Barrows at Broad Down, Devon, and a Unique Cup of Bituminous Shale Found There, 293 (Article in Serial). SDV123840.


Kirwan, R., 1871, The Prehistoric Archaeology of East Devon, 648 (Article in Serial). SDV135842.


Worth, R. N., 1880, 2nd Report of the Barrow Committee, 128 (Article in Serial). SDV123886.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 605-6 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Other details: Plan.


Fox, A., 1948, The Broad Down (Farway) Necropolis and the Wessex Culture in Devon, 1-19 (Article in Serial). SDV123165.


Gibbens, G. H., 1950, A Short History of Sidmouth, 217 (Article in Serial). SDV337191.

Farway Castle. Stands at the head of the Roncombe, a simple circulae ditch and rampart without an entrance. May have been a very large moated barrow. Other barrows nearby.


Ordnance Survey, 1953 - 1982, SY19NE7 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV342867.

Visited on 13/11/1975. The enclosure bank of Farway Castle is well preserved, flat topped and continuous. With an average width of 8 metres and internal height of 0.8 metres. The surrounding ditch is 2 metres in average width and 0.6 metres deep except on the south where it spreads to form a winter pond. Mature trees, scrub and bracken cover the bank and level interior. Other details: Plan.


Silvester, R. J., 1977, Circular Earthwork on Farway Hill (Worksheet). SDV342863.

Mixed, but sparse tree cover - some dying. Ditches intermittently waterlogged with scrub growing within.


Robinson, R., 1982, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982 (Un-published). SDV345608.

Site visit by Department of Environment Field Monument Warden on 24th May 1982.


Griffith, F. M., 1986, Farway Castle (Personal Comment). SDV342864.

Visited on 12/05/1986. Condition stable, under trees but rather waterlogged.


Robertson, W. I., 1991, Farway Castle Ring Ditch (Worksheet). SDV342866.

Visited on 01/09/1991. Large circular ditch with internal bank of uneven height, ranging between 0.5-0.75 metres Interior is slightly higher than land area Possible remains of slight bank on exterior edge of ditch on south side. North and west sides cut by fence. Traces of possible second ditch on north and west sides, where ground is very damp.
Visited again on 12/09/1991. No entrance or causeway discernible, but bank low and ditch shallow on the south-south-west side of the circle.


Simpson, S. J. + Noble, S., 1993, Archaeological Survey and Management Study of Areas on Gittisham Hill, Farway Hill, and Broad Down, East Devon, 7-8,19 (Report - Survey). SDV123162.

Visited on 02/11/1992. Condition deteriorating. Some large trees planted on bank and within enclosure; all mature except natural young scrub. Considerable numbers of fallen trees. Ditch partially waterlogged. Outer ditch not located. Natural woodland has encroached over most of the site. Other details: Figures 7-8, Plate 6.


Department of National Heritage, 1996, Farway Castle Earthwork Enclosure (Schedule Document). SDV342865.

The monument includes Farway Castle, an earthwork enclosure identified as an Iron Age farmstead situated in south-east Devon 8 kilometres south of Honiton on the high ground of an extensive Greensand plateau where it forms the watershed of the south-flowing River Sid. The monument is sited within a plantation of trees on a wide ridge of level ground. It includes a large circular enclosure of some 53 metres diameter created by a bank with an external ditch. The bank is 7.5 metres in overall width and 0.5 -0.8 metres in height above the internal ground surface. It has a gradual inner slope, a flat top, and a steep outer face falling directly into the ditch. The ditch is between 2 and 4 metres in width and 0.5 metres deep, with a gradual outer slope. It is subject to seasonal waterlogging in the south west quadrant. The circuit of the enclosure is complete, with no breaks in the bank, or causeways across the ditch. The overall diameter of the monument is circa 76 metres.
The earliest known reference to the monument is in an inventory of the mid-18th century compiled by Dean Milles. It was also recorded in 1868 by Kirwan. The earthwork appears to have been modified, and one or more entrances were destroyed when the bank was converted into a continuous field boundary in the 18th or 19th centuries to separate a new plantation of trees from surrounding heathland. Some of the larger round barrows in the vicinity have also been modified, and have supporting documentary evidence of their reuse. The enclosure lies adjacent to the round barrow cemetery on Farway Hill. A bronze palstave was found in the vicinity of the enclosure in the 19th century.
Farway Castle survives as a substantial earthwork despite some superficial modification, and its degree of survival is unusual for this class of monument. It also has no clear local parallels. It lies in close proximity to the round barrow cemetery on Farway Hill which comprises the central area of one of the most extensive and densest concentrations of Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) burial mounds in Devon. The monument and its relationship with the barrows constitutes a valuable archaeological resource for understanding prehistoric land use patterns in east Devon.


Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, Site No. 581 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Circular enclosure known as Farway Castle. 53m diameter with bank c. 7.5m wide and 0.5 - 0.8m high. External ditch. Uncertain origin. Possible prehistoric enclosure modified during c. 18th century landscaping. Scheduled Monument.
SMR


Dodd, M., 2004, Dean Milles Parochial Survey. Questionnaire (1747-1762) (Un-published). SDV162499.

Respondent to Dean Milles questionnaire in mid 18th century noted the circular ditch on Farway Hill, commonly called Farway Castle.


English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 96 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Extensive significant problems, i.e. under plough, collapse. Main vulnerability arable ploughing.


English Heritage, 2011, Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (as amended) Section 42 - Licence to Carry out a Geophysical Survey (Correspondence). SDV346994.

Licence granted, subject to conditions, to carry out a geophysical survey at Farway Castle.


Riley, H., 2013, Metric Survey of a Possible Neolithic Enclosure on Gittisham Hill, Devon, 7 (Report - Survey). SDV352082.

Farway Castle is a circular enclosure, defined by a bank and ditch with evidence of an outer ditch in places, enclosing an inner area of 50m in diameter. It is in a comparable location and is a similar size to the enclosure on Gittisham Hill. The location of the two enclosures at the heart of round barrow cemeteries suggests they are some of the earliest elements of the prehistoric landscape.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV120058Article in Serial: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1868. On Hill Fortresses, Sling-Stones, and other Antiquities in South Eastern Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 2 part 2. A5 Hardback. 58.
SDV123162Report - Survey: Simpson, S. J. + Noble, S.. 1993. Archaeological Survey and Management Study of Areas on Gittisham Hill, Farway Hill, and Broad Down, East Devon. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 93.38. A4 Stapled + Digital. 7-8,19.
SDV123165Article in Serial: Fox, A.. 1948. The Broad Down (Farway) Necropolis and the Wessex Culture in Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Exploration Society. 4: part 1. Paperback Volume. 1-19.
SDV123831Article in Serial: Kirwan, R.. 1868. Memoir of the Examination of Three Barrows at Broad Down, Farway, near Honiton. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 2. Unknown. 623.
SDV123840Article in Serial: Kirwan, R.. 1868. Sepulchral Barrows at Broad Down, Devon, and a Unique Cup of Bituminous Shale Found There. Archaeological Journal. 25. Unknown. 293.
SDV123886Article in Serial: Worth, R. N.. 1880. 2nd Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 12. Unknown. 128.
SDV135842Article in Serial: Kirwan, R.. 1871. The Prehistoric Archaeology of East Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 4. Unknown. 648.
SDV162499Un-published: Dodd, M.. 2004. Dean Milles Parochial Survey. Questionnaire (1747-1762). Dean Milles Parochial Survey. Questionnarie (1747-62). Digital.
SDV337191Article in Serial: Gibbens, G. H.. 1950. A Short History of Sidmouth. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 82. A5 Hardback. 217.
SDV339321Un-published: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1848-1894. Diaries. Devon Record Office Collection. Manuscript.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 605-6.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 96.
SDV342862Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. Farway Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV342863Worksheet: Silvester, R. J.. 1977. Circular Earthwork on Farway Hill. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Register. Worksheet.
SDV342864Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. Farway Castle.
SDV342865Schedule Document: Department of National Heritage. 1996. Farway Castle Earthwork Enclosure. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV342866Worksheet: Robertson, W. I.. 1991. Farway Castle Ring Ditch. Devon County Sites and Monuments Register. Worksheet.
SDV342867Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey. 1953 - 1982. SY19NE7. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV345608Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1982. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV346994Correspondence: English Heritage. 2011. Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (as amended) Section 42 - Licence to Carry out a Geophysical Survey. Letter Regarding Application to Carry Out Geophysical Survey at Farway Cast. Letter.
SDV351568Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003-2004. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material. Site No. 581.
SDV352082Report - Survey: Riley, H.. 2013. Metric Survey of a Possible Neolithic Enclosure on Gittisham Hill, Devon. In the Footsteps of Peter Orlando Hutchinson Project. A4 Stapled + Digital. 7.
SDV358613Report - Survey: Riley, H.. 06/2011. Survey at Farway Castle, Farway, Devon. Hazel Riley. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV10702Related to: Bowl Barrow on Farway Hill (Monument)
MDV10730Related to: Bowl Barrow on Farway Hill (Monument)
MDV10701Related to: Bowl Barrow on Farway Hill. (Monument)
MDV10700Related to: Bowl Barrow to South of Farway Castle (Monument)
MDV15899Related to: Enclosure east of Putts Corner, Part of a Round Barrow Cemetery on Gittisham Hill (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6789 - Survey at Farway Castle, Farway, Devon

Date Last Edited:Jun 7 2018 10:56AM