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HER Number:MDV11390
Name:Musbury Castle

Summary

Large univallate Iron Age hillfort situated on a spur just to the east of the River Axe above the village of Musbury. Naturally defended steep slopes apart from a level approach from the north, which was defended by two transverse banks.

Location

Grid Reference:SY 282 941
Map Sheet:SY29SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishCombpyne Rousdon
Civil ParishMusbury
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishAXMOUTH
Ecclesiastical ParishMUSBURY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SY29SE8
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY29SE/30
  • Old SAM County Ref: 91
  • Old SAM Ref: 29659
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SY29SE8

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Davidson, J., 1833, Untitled Source, 15-16 (Monograph). SDV342073.

Description and plan given.


Woollcombe, H., 1839-1850, Woollcombe Manuscript (Un-published). SDV16214.

Woollcombe visited the site in 1833. He makes reference to a double bank, one destroyed by ploughing, an outwork to the south and several ditches and ramparts on the north side. Circa 20 acres in area. Other details: Plan.


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

Hutchinson visited the site on 14/07/1857, 09/08/1872 and 11/07/1876. He noted several areas of damage in 1857 and the obliteration of a 'square platform' in 1872. Finds of slingstones. Other details: Plan.


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

Long and irregular in form, enclosing an area of about 6 acres, surrounded by a single agger and fosse. Gateways defended by outworks.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 584-5 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Irregular elliptical camp following the contours on the extreme ridge of a lofty hill, surrounded by a single agger and fosse, except on the northeast, the most vulnerable spot, where the defences gradually increase in strength until they form a triple vallum at the northern termination. This portion of the fortifications may have misled Lysons, who describes the entrenchments as double, whereas the greater part of the camp is surrounded only by a low bank on the crest of the deep escarpment of the natural hillside. There are two transverses, 120 feet apart, cross the neck of the ridge; the outer one is 8 feet high and the inner one, 4 feet high. The interior covers 6 acres. Vallum broken by three apertures at the southwest extremity, with a long bank extending outwards from the westernmost. An entrance on the south side enters obliquely through the vallum and is defended by an agger at the top, which also serves as a transverse bank. Towards the centre of the camp is another transverse. In Lyson's time the vallum was apparently much damaged by ploughing.


Allcroft, A. H., 1908, Earthwork of England, 193-4 (Monograph). SDV11975.

Allcroft remarks on the small depressed mounds in advance of the gate'. Other details: Plan.


Ministry of Works, 1924, Musbury Castle (Schedule Document). SDV342067.

Musbury Castle is situated 572 feet above ordnance datum on the crest of the hill overlooking Musbury village about half a mile east of the main road from Axmouth to Axminster (The Fosse Way). An irregularly shaped camp enclosing about 6 acres. Strongly defended by entrenchments following the natural contours of the hill and provided with interial cross traverses. Other details: County No. 91.


Donn, B., 1965, A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint) (Monograph). SDV336413.

Shown on Donn's map of Devon, 1765.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1976 - 1980, SY29SE8 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV342068.

1. Musbury Castle marked on 1906 Ordnance Survey 6 inch map.
2. Site visit 1951. Early Iron Age contour hillfort. Two massive transverse ditches and banks at northeast, and outer counter-scarp, visible on west only. At south end are two more transverse banks and dtiches facing south. Two entrances at north and south ends, with two lines of approach to north one. Interior ploughed.
3. Scheduled as an Ancient Monument.
4. Site visit 1976. All rough pasture with no indication of recent ploughing. Two couterscarp banks below summit at southwest end.


Robinson, R., 1983, Untitled Source (Un-published). SDV342070.


Thackray, D., 1984, Site visit to Musbury Castle (Un-published). SDV342072.


Robinson, R., 1984, Untitled Source (Un-published). SDV342071.


Parkinson, M., 1985, The Axe Estuary and its Marshes, 20 (Article in Serial). SDV122290.

Parkinson suggests that the hillforts of Hawkesdown, Musbury and Seaton Down were used to reinforce a tribal boundary, formed by the Axe estuary, and also to defence against invaders from the sea via the estuary.


Robinson, R., 1986, Untitled Source (Un-published). SDV342074.


Robinson, R., 1986, Untitled Source (Un-published). SDV342075.


Goodyer, R., 1990, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV342076.

The shape of the castle is depicted by hachuring on the Musbury Tithe Map, which is unusual.


Stacey, P., 1993, An Initial Assessment of Musbury Castle for Potential Archaeological Investigation (Report - Assessment). SDV342080.

A study of the monument, its current state and information relating to it.


Bennett, W., 1993, Musbury Castle (Worksheet). SDV342077.

Other details: Photos and plan.


Anderson, G., 1993, Musbury Castle (Worksheet). SDV342078.

Site visits 22/08/1993 and 05/09/1993. Dense vegetation over much of the site. Divided into three by two northwest-southeast hedges. Middle section is the most recently ploughed, but is about 6 feet higher at its centre that at its edges. The northeast sectin contains three earthworks, just visible through vegetation. The southwest section was too densely overgrown to permit inspection. Ramparts heavily wooded. Footpath along inside of eastern rampart and outside of western side.


Stacey, P., 1993, Musbury Castle (Worksheet). SDV342079.

Stacey raises a number of areas of concern including the state of the field boundaries, the extent of overgrowth and the gradual erosion of the eastern bank.


Fox, A., 1996, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, 44 (Monograph). SDV7958.


Salvatore, J. P., 1998, Untitled Source, MPP/144418 (Un-published). SDV342081.

Large univallate hillfort with naturally defended steep slopes except for a level approach from the north. It enclosed a defended area of about 3.4 hectares and takes the form of a long narrow enclosure aligned with the topography of the northeast-southwest spur on which it was built. It is about 390 metres long with a maximum width of 130 metres inclusive of the defences. The very steep natural slopes on all sides but the northeast supplied a strong defensive setting which may have been supplemented by the scarping of the hillsides. The only level approach along the crest of the spur from the northeast was defended by 2 transverse ramparts set one behind the other about 40 metres apart (this is the only part of the defensive circuit thought to be multivallate). Each rampart was fronted by a ditch and the outermost one by an additional counterscarp bank which now survives only at its northwest end. The outer rampart is 2.5 metres high whilst the inner one is about 2 metres high, their respective ditches are still visible as depressions about 3 metres wide. The interior of the hillfort is relatively flat along the crest of the spur but falls away on the 2 main long flanks of the defences. The southernmost 70 metre long tip of the spur is cut off from the rest of the interior by a transverse rampart about 2 metres high with an outward facing ditch. The main entrance was probably from the northeast and was defended by the set of double transverse ramparts whilst a further original entrance is probable at the southeast corner and this may account for the presence of the s stretch of rampart and ditch in close proximity to the point where the angled entrance way approached the interior. Outworks shown on a map of 1765 were probably destroyed in the 19th century and can no longer be identified.


English Heritage, 1999, Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, As Amended (Correspondence). SDV342083.

Other details: Monument No. 29659.


Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1999, Musbury Castle (Schedule Document). SDV342205.

Large prehistoric univallate hillfort known as Musbury Castle. The hillfort occupies a site at the end of a greensand spur just the east of the River Axe above the village of Musbury. It has naturally defended steep slopes except for a level approach from the north. It enclosued a defended area of about 3.4 hectares. See schedule entry for full details. Other details: National Monument No. 29659.


Cobley, G. P., 2002, Musbury Castle (Un-published). SDV338764.


Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, Site No. 1405 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Hillfort known as Musbury Castle. Long narrow hillfort c. 390m long x 130m wide located on spur, enclosing c. 3.4 HA. Mostly univallate (single rampart/ditch/counterscarp bank) with one multivallate section (double bank/ditch/counterscarp bank). Scheduled Monument.
SMR.


English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 97 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Condition generally unsatisfactory, with major localised problems. Principal vulnerability plant growth.


English Heritage, 2009, Pastscape (Website). SDV342084.

A large Iron Age univallate hillfort known as Musbury Castle. The hillfort occupies a site at the end of a Greensand spur just to the east of the River Axe above the village of Musbury. It has naturally defended steep slopes except for a level approach from the north. It enclosed a defended area of about 3.4 hectares. The hillfort takes the form of a long narrow enclosure aligned with the topography of the north east to south west spur on which it was built. It is about 390 metres long with a maximum width of 130 metres inclusive of the defences. The very steep natural slopes on all sides but the north east supplied a strong defensive setting which may have been supplemented by the scarping of the hillsides. The only level approach along the crest of the spur from the north east was defended by two transverse ramparts set one behind the other about 40 metres apart; this is the only part of the defensive circuit thought to have been multivallate. Each rampart was fronted by a ditch and the outermost one by an additional counterscarp bank which now survives only at its north west end. The outer rampart is 2.5 metres high whilst the inner one is about 2 metres high; their respective ditches are still visible as deopressions about 3 metres wide. The interior of the hillfort is relatively flat along the crest of the spur but it falls away on the two main long flanks of the defences. The southernmost 70 metre long tip of the spur is cut off from the rest of the interior by a transverse rampart about 2 metres high with an outward facing ditch. The main entrance was probably from the north east and was defended by the set of double transverse ramparts whilst a further original entrance is probable at the south eastern corner and this may account for the presence of the southern stretch of rampart and ditch in close proximity to the point where the angled entrance way approached the interior. Scheduled. Other details: Monument No. 449626.


English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 88 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.


English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 92 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Condition generally unsatisfactory, with major localised problems. Declining. Principal vulnerability plant growth.


English Heritage, 2011, Scheduled Monument Consent Letter (Correspondence). SDV347065.

Scheduled monument consent granted, subject to conditions, in respect of proposed works at Musbury Castle concerning the removal of old fencing; erection of new stock-proof fencing; provision of new signage; and removal of old stile and replacement with kissing gate.


Tilley, C., 2017, Landscape in the Longue Durée, 299-319, tables 9.1-9.5, figs 9.7-9.17 (Monograph). SDV361032.

Discussion of Woodbury Castle and the other hillforts in the locality, making reference to the East Devon pebblebeds.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 193-4.
SDV122290Article in Serial: Parkinson, M.. 1985. The Axe Estuary and its Marshes. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 117. A5 Paperback. 20.
SDV135842Article in Serial: Kirwan, R.. 1871. The Prehistoric Archaeology of East Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 4. Unknown. 648.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV336413Monograph: Donn, B.. 1965. A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint). A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint). Hardback Volume.
SDV338764Un-published: Cobley, G. P.. 2002. Musbury Castle. Sidmouth College Project Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
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. 584-5.
SDV342067Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1924. Musbury Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV342068Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1976 - 1980. SY29SE8. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV342070Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1983. Department of Environment Field Monument Warden Visit. Printout.
SDV342071Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1984. Department of Environment Field Monument Warden Visit. Printout.
SDV342072Un-published: Thackray, D.. 1984. Site visit to Musbury Castle. Not Applicable.
SDV342073Monograph: Davidson, J.. 1833. The British and Roman Remains in the Vicinity of Axminster in the County of. Unknown. 15-16.
SDV342074Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1986. Department of Environment Field Monument Warden Visit. Printout.
SDV342075Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1986. Department of Environment Field Monument Warden Visit. Printout.
SDV342076Personal Comment: Goodyer, R.. 1990. Not Applicable.
SDV342077Worksheet: Bennett, W.. 1993. Musbury Castle. A4 Bound.
SDV342078Worksheet: Anderson, G.. 1993. Musbury Castle. Worksheet.
SDV342079Worksheet: Stacey, P.. 1993. Musbury Castle. Worksheet.
SDV342080Report - Assessment: Stacey, P.. 1993. An Initial Assessment of Musbury Castle for Potential Archaeological Investigation. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV342081Un-published: Salvatore, J. P.. 1998. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Unknown. MPP/144418.
SDV342083Correspondence: English Heritage. 1999. Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, As Amended. Amendment to Scheduled Area of Monument. Letter.
SDV342084Website: English Heritage. 2009. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org. Website.
SDV342205Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1999. Musbury Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 97.
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 88.
SDV347065Correspondence: English Heritage. 2011. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter Regarding Proposed Works at Musbury Castle. 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. 1405.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 92.
SDV361032Monograph: Tilley, C.. 2017. Landscape in the Longue Durée. Landscape in the Longue Durée. Digital. 299-319, tables 9.1-9.5, figs 9.7-9.17.
SDV7958Monograph: Fox, A.. 1996. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Paperback Volume. 44.

Associated Monuments

MDV65712Parent of: Pot sherd found at Musbury Castle (Find Spot)
MDV11391Related to: Hawkesdown Camp (Monument)
MDV14054Related to: Seaton Down Hillfort (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Feb 14 2019 2:57PM