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HER Number:MDV1930
Name:Univallate Hillfort known as Membury Castle

Summary

A univallate Iron Age hillfort at the south end of a ridge between the Rivers Yarty and Axe. Roughly oblong, the encircling rampart has 3 entrances and a possible outer ditch. The ramparts are more clearly visible on images derived from lidar data captured between 1998 and 2014 than the available aerial imagery.

Location

Grid Reference:ST 282 028
Map Sheet:ST20SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishMembury
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishMEMBURY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 190202
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST20SE/4
  • Old SAM County Ref: 102
  • Old SAM Ref: 29645

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Davidson, J. B., 1833, British and Roman Remains in the Vicinity of Axminster (Monograph). SDV131303.

Possibly a link in the chain of defensive sites running up the Devon/Dorset border. It is situated about 1 kilometre to the east of the church and forms a rough oblong running north to south along the crest of the hill. Description and plan of the castle in 1833. A remarkable feature is a sickle-shaped entrance on the east side. Another entrance on the west side was defended by an outwork which has been swept away. Other details: Plan.


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

Rampart circa 1.5 metres on north - higher than rest of fort. Two entrance - west one with two outworks on either side of the gate. Plan (from Davidson) in manuscript . Other details: Abstract on worksheet.


Unknown, 1840, Membury (Cartographic). SDV340628.

Name of Field Number 98 on Tithe map Apportionment is 'Castle Nap', Field Number 98 named 'Castle Sidelong' adjoins to the west and Field Number 93 named 'Castle Mead' adjoins to the south


Pulman, G. P. R., 1865, The Book of the Axe, 48 (Monograph). SDV124122.


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

Occupies an area of about three acres, enclosed by a single vallum.


Anon, 1882, Membury Camp, 27 (Article in Serial). SDV340636.

An interment had been found but on exposure crumbled to dust.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 583-4 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

A hillfort of irregular oval form surrounded by a single vallum. Other details: Plan.


Allcroft, A. H., 1908, Earthwork of England, 200-1 (Monograph). SDV11975.

Other details: Plan.


Ministry of Works, 1924, Membury Castle (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV340632.

Membury Castle. A hill fort of irregular oval form surrounded by a single vallum enclosing between 2 and 3 acres. The main gateway is at the northeast angle and entered by an oblique path.


Wilkin, W. H., 1927, Notes on Membury: Part 2, 241 (Article in Serial). SDV340626.


Royal Air Force, 1947, CPE/ UK 1974, 4318 (Aerial Photograph). SDV110669.


Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1974, RAF/CPE/UK/1974 FP 4317-4318 11-APR-1947 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356127.

A curvilinear earthwork bank is visible encircling the top of a hill, although in many parts obscured by the tree canopy.


Anon, 1950, Membury Camp, 21-2 (Article in Serial). SDV340637.

The fort's defences were composed of steep chert faced walling with an earth core and slight ditches. Inturned east entrance and an out-turned western entrance. The site has been disturbed by 19th century boundaries.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1950, ST20SE11 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV340634.

Early Iron Age hillfort.


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

Shown on Donn's map of 1765.


Unknown, 1975, Untitled Source, 247 (Monograph). SDV340642.


Hogg, A. H. A., 1979, British Hillforts: An Index, 199 (Monograph). SDV7953.


Quinnell, N. V., 1982, Membury Castle (Plan - measured). SDV340635.

Site surveyed at a scale of 1:1250.


Ordnance Survey, 1982, OS/82218 V, OS/82218 V 1166-1167 28-AUG-1982 (Aerial Photograph). SDV359504.

Irregular dark cropmarks are visible in the field to the north-west of the hillfort.


Robinson, R., 1983, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983 (Un-published). SDV345762.

Department of Environment Field Monument Warden site visit 1st March 1983.


Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/GT, 15a-19a (Aerial Photograph). SDV99947.


Robinson, R., 1986, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1986 (Un-published). SDV345664.

Department of Environment Field Monument Warden site visit 6th March 1986.


Horner, B., 1993, DAP/VV, 21-22 (Aerial Photograph). SDV112612.


Grant, N., 1995, The Occupation of Hillforts in Devon during the Late Roman and Post Roman Periods, 105 (Article in Serial). SDV7954.


Ordnance Survey, 1996, OS/96569, OS/96569 V 193-194 08-MAY-1996 (Aerial Photograph). SDV359324.

Ring shaped dark cropmarks are visible in the field to the north-west of the hillfort.


Fox, A., 1996, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, 41-2 (Monograph). SDV7958.


Salvatore, J. P., 1997, Membury Castle (Un-published). SDV340641.

Membury Castle includes a prehistoric slight univallate hillfort located on the southern end of a narrow steep sided ridge between the River Yarty and the River Axe. Roughly oblong defended area of circa 1.3 hectares. The encircling rampart has 3 main entrances one of which may be of much later date and one of which is definitely modern. The elongated interior of the monument is about 225 metres from north to south with a maximum width of 60 metres east to west. Soil quarries dug internally to provide soil for the rampart are clearly visible along the inside of the west bank and elsewhere on the circuit. The earth/stone rampart was originally recorded as being steep and stone faced but it survives now as a slope with an angle of 45 degrees, about 5 - 8 metres wide and about 2 metres high externally on the west side of the monument where it is littered with rough stone chert blocks. Whilst the bank of the rampart survives with similar dimensions on all of the other sides it has largely been incorporated into a later hedge bank on the east and steepest side and the effectiveness of the bank may have been supplemented by the scarping of the natural hillside rather than the raising of a substantial rampart. A ditch was recorded forward of the rampart on the south and west sides of the monument although this feature is now no longer visible. A possible original entrance exists at the southwest corner where the south rampart terminal projects forward and outwards to provide a gap about 3 metres wide; it was originally recorded with an earthwork since destroyed. Another entrance is located on the northeast side. If this was an original entrance it has been much altered, straightened and widened perhaps during an episode of stock enclosure in more recent times and a remnant of the partially levelled bank can still be seen running across part of the entrance; it was interpreted by the Victoria County History as having possibly incorporated a guard chamber.


Salvatore, J. P., 1997, Membury Castle (Site Visit). SDV340639.

Prehistoric hillfort with some unusual characteristics.


Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1998, Membury Castle (Schedule Document). SDV340640.

Membury Castle a Prehistoric univallate hillfort between the River Yarty and River Axe. The defences enclose a narrow oblong area and may have had a ditch on at least two sides. The bank of the rampart continues on all sides, on the east it is lower and has been incorporated into a later hedge bank. Other details: Monument Number 29645.


Environment Agency, 1998-2014, LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution), LIDAR ST2802 Environment Agency DTM 01-JAN-1998 to 30-SEP-2014 (Cartographic). SDV359177.

Substantial earthwork banks and a possible partial ditch are visble.


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

Extensive significant problems, ie under plough, collapse. Principal vulnerability plant growth.


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.

Extensive significant problems, ie under plough, collapse. Declining. Principal vulnerability plant growth.


Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M., 2011, In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts (Article in Serial). SDV361500.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2016-2018, The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV359463.

The ramparts of the hillfort are visible, although obscured in parts by tree cover, as substantial earthwork banks on aerial photographs taken from 1947 onwards, and more clearly on images derived from lidar data captured between 1998 and 2014. On the west side they are curvilinear and substantial and visible to a width of 5 metres; on the east where the landform is steeper they are less substantial at circa 3 metres in width. A 4 metre break in the defences at the northern tip and a 3 metre break in the south-west may be entrances. What appears to be a curvilinear inturned possible entrance is visible on the eastern side. Parts of a possible external ditch are visible as slight earthworks to the south and west sides, although this is not clearly defined and a possible quarry pit is visible on the north-west side. Internally, parallel linear earthwork ridges 3.5 metres in width are visible and these are likely to post-date use as a hillfort; their width suggests that they could have been orchard planting banks of post-medieval or 19th century date (recorded separately as MDV115715). These may have obscured any internal earthwork features that survive. Dark and ring-shaped cropmarks in the field to the north-west of the hillfort are likely to have resulted from poaching around stock feeders and have not been transcribed.


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

SDV110669Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. CPE/ UK 1974. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4318.
SDV112612Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1993. DAP/VV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 21-22.
SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 200-1.
SDV124122Monograph: Pulman, G. P. R.. 1865. The Book of the Axe. The Book of the Axe. Unknown. 48.
SDV131303Monograph: Davidson, J. B.. 1833. British and Roman Remains in the Vicinity of Axminster. British and Roman Remains in the Vicinity of Axminster. Unknown.
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.
SDV340626Article in Serial: Wilkin, W. H.. 1927. Notes on Membury: Part 2. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 59. A5 Hardback. 241.
SDV340628Cartographic: Unknown. 1840. Membury. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Map (Paper).
SDV340632List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Ministry of Works. 1924. Membury Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Letter.
SDV340634Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1950. ST20SE11. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV340635Plan - measured: Quinnell, N. V.. 1982. Membury Castle. Survey Drawing. Plan.
SDV340636Article in Serial: Anon. 1882. Membury Camp. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 28 Part 1. Unknown. 27.
SDV340637Article in Serial: Anon. 1950. Membury Camp. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 95. Unknown. 21-2.
SDV340639Site Visit: Salvatore, J. P.. 1997. Membury Castle.
SDV340640Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1998. Membury Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Letter.
SDV340641Un-published: Salvatore, J. P.. 1997. Membury Castle. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Digital.
SDV340642Monograph: Unknown. 1975. Hillforts of Britain. Unknown. 247.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 583-4.
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.
SDV345664Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1986. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1986. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV345762Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1983. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 92.
SDV356127Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1974. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1974 FP 4317-4318 11-APR-1947.
SDV359177Cartographic: Environment Agency. 1998-2014. LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution). Environment Agency LiDAR data. Digital. LIDAR ST2802 Environment Agency DTM 01-JAN-1998 to 30-SEP-2014.
SDV359324Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1996. OS/96569. Ordnance Survey Aerial Photograph. OS/96569 V 193-194 08-MAY-1996.
SDV359463Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2016-2018. The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. Historic England Research Report. Digital.
Linked documents:2
SDV359504Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1982. OS/82218 V. Ordnance Survey. Photograph (Paper). OS/82218 V 1166-1167 28-AUG-1982.
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.
SDV361500Article in Serial: Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M.. 2011. In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts. British Archaeological Reports. 548. Paperback Volume.
SDV7953Monograph: Hogg, A. H. A.. 1979. British Hillforts: An Index. British Hill-forts: An Index. 62. Unknown. 199.
SDV7954Article in Serial: Grant, N.. 1995. The Occupation of Hillforts in Devon during the Late Roman and Post Roman Periods. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 53. Paperback Volume. 105.
SDV7958Monograph: Fox, A.. 1996. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Paperback Volume. 41-2.
SDV99947Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GT. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 15a-19a.

Associated Monuments

MDV4712Parent of: ARTEFACT SCATTER in the Parish of Membury (Monument)
MDV50368Parent of: ARTEFACT SCATTER in the Parish of Membury (Monument)
MDV7711Parent of: ARTEFACT SCATTER in the Parish of Membury (Monument)
MDV14494Related to: BEACON in the Parish of Membury (Monument)
MDV115715Related to: Possible Orchard Banks within Membury Castle Hillfort (Monument)
MDV75959Related to: Possible Rectilinear Double-Ditched Enclosure west of Membury Hillfort (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7508 - The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme (NMP) project (Ref: ACD1228)

Date Last Edited:Feb 14 2019 2:57PM