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HER Number:MDV9388
Name:Cotley Castle, Holcombe Burnell


Earthworks of an early Iron Age hill-fort with a single rampart and ditch and two inturned entrances which has been cut by a modern road on its west side. The earthworks have been transcribed as part of the Winkleigh NMP project.


Grid Reference:SX 860 895
Map Sheet:SX88NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishDunsford
Civil ParishHolcombe Burnell
Ecclesiastical ParishDUNSFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX88NE/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 250

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

National Monuments Record, SX8689 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343592.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 604-5 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

A plateau camp of irregular plan on a ridge of high ground between the valleys of the Exe and Teign. The camp rises 12 feet on the escarpment on the west side, but half that on the east, with the probable entrance by a sloping ascent at the south-west. Class C earthwork. Other details: Plan.

Ministry of Works, 1949, Cotley Castle (Schedule Document). SDV343588.

An Early Iron Age hill-fort with single rampart and ditch, and two inturned entrances. The rampart measures 43 feet on the scarp and 22 feet vertical above the bottom of the ditch, flanking the north entrance. In woodland which is being felled (1949). The defences have been cut through and lowered, for the passage of the modern road on the west, condition otherwise very good. Other details: Map.

Fox, A., 1951, Twentieth Report on Ancient Monuments, 34 (Article in Serial). SDV24924.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953 - 1981, SX88NE 2 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV343590.

Site visit 4th May 1953. Single bank and ditch defence with two inturned entrances at the north-west and south-west. Tree-covered but generally in good state of preservation. No evidence of occupation was found.
Site visit 8th October. In general appearance and condition the work has changed little since 1953. Traces of a counter-scarp bank are visible on the west and south-east, but elsewhere the bank abutting the ditch is modern. Other details: Plan.

Cambridge University, 1969, CUC/BAE, 75 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343595.

Other details: Also 76-77, not in HER.

Unknown, 1979, Cotley Castle (Report - non-specific). SDV343589.

Site visit 29th December 1978. The main features previously described (on schedule document) remain the same, though now quite closely covered in young woodland, planted about 15 years ago. The ditch has some undergrowth but can be followed, though walking is difficult. There are open rides across the main enclosure. The tree growth is less on the southern side which is bounded by a track, believed by the owner to be part of an old drove road. The owner was anxious to emphasise his interest in the monument and his plan to develop and maintain a well-managed and suitable area of woodland. The ridge leading from the northern entrance has been lined with evergreens, there are young beech on the banks and areas of larch on the summit, also some larger varieties near the entrances. If the undergrowth dies down or is cleared as the trees mature, it seems that the main features of the hill-fort will be more easily seen. Other details: Attached to schedule document.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV343591.

Site visit 24th July 1983. Although densely overgrown the site is in excellent condition and the maximum height of the rampart top to ditch bottom is at least 8 metres. Some of the trees have been felled this summer, but only a light tractor used and very little damage caused.

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

Cambridge University, 1996, CUC/ANL, 13 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343594.

Other details: Also 14-15, not in HER.

Dyer, M., 1996, Devon County Council Haldon Ridge Survey: Summary Report, 17, 33 (Report - Survey). SDV290454.

Fox, A., 1996, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, 29 (Monograph). SDV7958.

Exeter Archaeology, 1996, Untitled Source (Archive - Survey). SDV343593.

Site visit 29th March 1996. Recent thinning of trees has left it more visible than for many years. On north/north-east side several small areas circa 4-6 metres wide where top of rampart has partially collapsed into the ditch; does not look recent.

Young, A., 2005, Transcriptions from Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme (NMP) project (Cartographic). SDV321540.

Transcriptions of banks and ditches correspond to the grid reference for PRN166641.

Young, A. & Turner, S., 2005-2006, North Devon/Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme (NMP) project database records, PRN166641 (Interpretation). SDV358473.

An early Iron Age hill fort with single rampart and ditch with inturned entrances in the north west and south west. The fort is irregular in plan, measuring c210m x 148m, and is sited on the ridge between the valleys of the Exe and Teign. The western side of the fort has been cut through by the modern road. The ridge is heavily wooded but the site is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1963, when the site was cleared of mature trees (p1). There are further air photographs (p2&3) showing the site with and without trees. To the immediate east of the fort, is a substantial ditch (166640) which might represent associated outworks.The hillfort was digitally plotted as part of the National Mapping Programme.
Photograph references:
1. RAF 543/2332/f21 0111&0112 26-JUL-1963
2. CUC ANL 13-15 28-APR-1966
3. CUC BAE 75-77 26-NOV-1969

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 111 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Extensive significant problems. Principal vulnerability forestry.

English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 104 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.

English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 109 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Extensive significant problems. Improving. Principal vulnerability forestry.

Devon County Council, 2019, Google Earth Aerial Photograph Pilot Project, GE89 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363341.

(SX 85935 89334) Enclosure and linears east of Birch Cross Cottage. Cotley Castle MDV9388 and linear MDV121690 identified from the 2018 Google Earth aerial photograph. Possible circular enclosure and linears also seen. Bronze Age to Romano-British in date.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV24924Article in Serial: Fox, A.. 1951. Twentieth Report on Ancient Monuments. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 83. A5 Hardback. 34.
SDV290454Report - Survey: Dyer, M.. 1996. Devon County Council Haldon Ridge Survey: Summary Report. Exeter Archaeology Report. 96.26. A4 Stapled + Digital. 17, 33.
SDV321540Cartographic: Young, A.. 2005. Transcriptions from Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme (NMP) project. Digital.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 604-5.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 111.
SDV343588Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1949. Cotley Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV343589Report - non-specific: Unknown. 1979. Cotley Castle. Ancient Monuments Wardens Report Form. 1. A4 Single Sheet.
SDV343590Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953 - 1981. SX88NE 2. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV343591Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1983.
SDV343592Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. SX8689. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV343593Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 1996. Haldon Ridge Survey Archive. Mixed Archive Material.
SDV343594Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1996. CUC/ANL. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 13.
SDV343595Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1969. CUC/BAE. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 75.
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 104.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 109.
SDV358473Interpretation: Young, A. & Turner, S.. 2005-2006. North Devon/Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme (NMP) project database records. Cornwall Council Report. Digital. PRN166641.
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. 29.

Associated Monuments

MDV121693Related to: Earthwork ditch, Cotley Castle fort, Holcombe Burnell (Monument)
MDV128100Related to: Enclosure and linears east of Birch Cross Cottage (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7455 - Winkleigh Biomass Plant National Mapping Programme

Date Last Edited:Apr 8 2020 10:16AM