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HER Number:MDV8371
Name:Slapton Castle, Stokenham


A slight univallate hillfort, aligned along a north-east to south-west spur to north-east of Frittiscombe. A hedged lane passes through along its long axis, cutting through the ramparts at either end.


Grid Reference:SX 808 443
Map Sheet:SX84SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishStokenham
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSTOKENHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX84SW/5
  • Old SAM County Ref: 400
  • Old SAM Ref: 33744
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX84SW 1

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

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

Bisected by road. On south side ditch filled and rampart filled. On north-east side rampart circa 12 to 15 feet high, ditch circa 30 to 40 feet deep. Entrances on north-east side and where breached by road (south-east and north-west). Plan in manuscript.

Elliott, E. A. S., 1901, On Some Earthworks in the South Hams Probably Concerned in the Irishmen's Raid, 475-483 (Article in Serial). SDV321206.

Fosse and rampart on north side, very large. South side obliterated by plough. Ovoid, about 6 acres. Slingstones found.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 589 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

A contour camp enclosing about 2.43 hectares. It has been of great strength but the plough has obliterated all but the faintest traces of the south-eastern entrenchments.

Royal Air Force, 1946 - 1949, Royal Air Force Aerial Photographs (Aerial Photograph). SDV342938.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952 - 1961, SX84SW1 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV343497.

Site visit 10th December 1952. The Castle is the site of an Iron Age hillfort, the farmer having levelled what was left of it about 50 years ago.
Site visit 22nd December 1961. Slapton castle consists of an elongated enclosure at the end of a spur formed by a single rampart and outer ditch. The southern part of the north-west half has been completely destroyed and only on the northern point is the defence prominent. The south-east half of the earthwork has been ploughed down so that only the outer scarp of the rampart survives with traces of the ditch. There is no trace of the original entrance or entrances and they have presumably been destroyed by the modern road which cuts through the hillfort from north-east to south-west.

Ministry of Works, 1957, The Castle (Schedule Document). SDV343498.

Very fine early Iron Age Contour Fort with a single ditch and glacis rampart - rampart has slight counterscarp. Best section of rampart (north) has counterscarp 4 feet from inside level, ditch circa 18 feet deep to top of rampart. Condition: south of road ditch and rampart visible but levelled out by ploughing. North of road, in northern sector scrub being cleared, splendid condition; north-east sector, now pasture has been completely levelled out. Other details: Map.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/DS, 1-2 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343501.

Horner, W., 1995, Slapton Castle (Personal Comment). SDV343499.

Site visit 28th February 1995. Tree planting proposal beyond west side of scheduled area. The field has recently been re-laid with grass. Interior stony and levelled. South-west stretch of bank circuit has been almost entirely levelled though is faintly discernible. The north-west stretch of bank is intact, though in places the rear (interior) of the rampart is being eroded by ploughing and slate stone from the ploughed interior placed on the bank.

English Heritage, 2001, Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, As Amended (Correspondence). SDV347410.

Notification that the Hillfort known as Slapton Castle has been included in the Schedule of Ancients Monuments.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2001, Hillfort Known as Slapton Castle (Schedule Document). SDV343500.

A slight univallate hillfort, aligned along a north-east to south-west spur and with maximum dimensions of 351 metres long by 134 metres wide across the outer limits of the visible earthworks. The rampart, which includes a bank and outer ditch with counterscarp banks, straddles the 60 metres and 80 metres contours, the interior of the fort sloping gently down from west to east. A hedged lane passes through the fort along its long axis, cutting through the ramparts at either end. Later field banks follow the rampart on the north side of the fort. At the north-east end of the fort, the 60 metres contour forms a narrow tongue which projects 100 metres to the east from the only visible original entrance to the fort. The tongue was utilised to provide a hornwork, protecting from the north side of the entrance at this point. The hornwork consists of a long projecting earthwork, scarped steeply away to the north in two long steps, falling about 8 metres to the lane. The lower step continues about 10 metres further east, the upper one curving round to create a kidney shaped earthwork 22 metres north to south, by 55 metres east to west and about 1.5 metres high. The convex side of this earthwork faces south, giving a wide field of fire on the hilltop and would have commanded the entire approach to the fort including the gate itself to the west, and the scarp slope down to the north. It would also have commanded the entire approach to the fort gate during its period of use. The south side of the approach must have had an earthwork forming an entrance passage to make the hornwork effective. Slight traces of a scarped earthwork curve away south-east of the fort gate. This has been ploughed and is now about 0.3 metres high. The lane cuts through the main rampart immediately north of the east gate to the fort where the position of the rampart is visible by an abrupt break of slope in the lane. The ramparts survive well on the north side of the lane. Here, the rampart rises 1.5 metres from the fort's interior and falls about 5 metres to the outer ditch. A counterscarp rises again about 2 metres from the ditch and is overlain by a recent hedgebank. In the field to the north, a level terrace 6 metres to 8 metres from the centre line of the bank may represent a levelled glacis. On the south side of the lane, the ramparts have been ploughed since at least 1946 and now appear as a scarp about 2.5 metres high with a slight change in slope to indicate the position of the ditch. Towards the south-western end of this sector, the rampart swells out to a width of about 10 metres. This could represent the position of an abandoned gateway. Stratified archaeological remains survive in this area and flint and pottery scatters have been found. Immediately within the ramparts in this area are concentrations of beach pebbles, possibly representing slingstone dumps. In the south-west corner of the fort, a fragment of upstanding rampart survives, the counterscarp rising about 0.5 metres from the interior and the scarp falling about 3.5 metres to a terrace, representing the filled ditch. The lane cuts abruptly through the rampart at this point, its position visible by a rise of about 0.5 metres in the road surface. The modern road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. Other details: Map.

Smalley, R. A. J., 2007, Geophysical Survey Report. Slapton Castle for South Hams District Council (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV345838.

A system of defensive banks and ditches in the form of linear arrangements of positive and negative anomalies was identified during a geophysical survey of Slapton Castle. In addition, a number of discrete positive anomalies (9) can be seen across the survey area. These have been interpreted as pits of possible archaeological origin. Two rectilinear enclosures (2 and 3) were also evident in the north-eastern and south-western limits of the survey area.

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 110 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Extensive significant problems. Principal vulnerability arable ploughing.

English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 103 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 107 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Extensive significant problems. Declining. Principal vulnerability arable ploughing.

Horner, B., 2011, RAF (1946-9) Aerial Photos with Marked Features (Aerial Photograph). SDV352507.

Ramparts visible on 1946 aerial photo. Now ploughed out.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV321206Article in Serial: Elliott, E. A. S.. 1901. On Some Earthworks in the South Hams Probably Concerned in the Irishmen's Raid. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 33. A5 Hardback. 475-483.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 589.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 110.
SDV342938Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 - 1949. Royal Air Force Aerial Photographs. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Digital).
SDV343497Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952 - 1961. SX84SW1. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV343498Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1957. The Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV343499Personal Comment: Horner, W.. 1995. Slapton Castle.
SDV343500Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2001. Hillfort Known as Slapton Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV343501Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/DS. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-2.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #108414 ]
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 103.
SDV345838Report - Geophysical Survey: Smalley, R. A. J.. 2007. Geophysical Survey Report. Slapton Castle for South Hams District Council. Stratascan Report. J2278. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV347410Correspondence: English Heritage. 2001. Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, As Amended. Notification of Inclusion of Monument in the Schedule of Ancient Monuments. Letter.
SDV352507Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 2011. RAF (1946-9) Aerial Photos with Marked Features. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 107.

Associated Monuments

MDV78800Parent of: Pits at Slapton Castle, Stokenham (Monument)
MDV78800Related to: Pits at Slapton Castle, Stokenham (Monument)
MDV8372Related to: ARTEFACT SCATTER in the Parish of Stokenham (Monument)
MDV78799Related to: Enclosure Adjacent to Slapton Castle, Stokenham (Monument)
MDV78798Related to: Enclosure to South-West of Slapton Castle, Stokenham (Monument)
MDV78800Parent of: Pits at Slapton Castle, Stokenham (Monument)
MDV78800Related to: Pits at Slapton Castle, Stokenham (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4955 - Geophysical Survey at Slapton Castle, Stokenham

Date Last Edited:Nov 29 2017 9:39AM