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HER Number:MDV9783
Name:Castle Dyke in Tower Plantation, Ashcombe and Dawlish


Castle Dyke Prehistoric ring work in Tower Plantation.


Grid Reference:SX 921 770
Map Sheet:SX97NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishAshcombe
Civil ParishDawlish
Ecclesiastical ParishDAWLISH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 447664
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX97NW/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 263
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX97NW3
  • Pastscape: 447664

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • OVAL ENCLOSURE (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2200 BC to 42 AD (Between))

Full description

Department of Environment, Castle Dyke (Correspondence). SDV326681.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for trial excavation followed by ploughing and reseeding.

Cherry, J. B., 01/09/1991, Earthwork (Worksheet). SDV337154.

Small stone or concrete platform near centre of site, may be base of small hut, now demolished. No longer used for exercising horses. Trees and rushes growing near centre.

Legge, L. G., 09/10/1991, Castle Dyke (Worksheet). SDV337155.

Ditches overgrown.

Unknown, 1827, 484M/T3/20 (Record Office Collection). SDV337157.

Old Fortification or Castle Ditch shown on estate map of 1827.

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

Visited in 1836. A single ditch forming a circle with a perfect rampart. Diameter 300 foot.

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

Circular enclosure approximately 40 meters in diameter, with pit, possibly modern, near centre. Banks about 5 meters in height. Reference to article in "Dawlish Directory" of September, 1853.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Castle Dyke (Camp)' shown on 19th century map with two 'Tumuli' to the east.

Ordnance Survey, 1906, 102SW (Cartographic). SDV306314.

'Castle Dyke (Camp)' marked on early 20th century map.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 601-2 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Castle Dyke, in the Tower Plantation. A small ring work, situated on level ground, on Little Haldon. Defences, a bank 1.22 meters high and ditch measuring 13.72 meters overall. The entry: on the east is probably original, the diagonal cut beside the metalled road is probably recent. Date uncertain might be Bronze Age, since not defensively sited. Condition good, has never been ploughed.

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1931, The Place-Names of Devon: Part One, 492 (Monograph). SDV1312.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1824, RAF/CPE/UK/1890 RS 4411-4412 10-DEC-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV352344.

The southern part of the enclosure banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

Royal Air Force, 1950, RAF/541/520, RAF/CPE/UK/1824 RP 4084-4085 04-NOV-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV352112.

The enclosure banks and ditches are defined by vegetation.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1960, SX97NW3 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV337152.

Castle Dyke or Castle Ditch, Ashcombe. A circular enclosure with a single rampart and ditch enclosing about 0.607 hectares with one entrance on the south. Bank 1.22 meters high on inside, and from 2.29-2.65 meters high from bottom of ditch. Lady A Fox notes a causeway in the north-east and the possibility that the southern entrance has been re-cut. It is tentatively dated Medieval or ? Bronze Age but a. L F Rivet quoting English Place Names Society points out that it can hardly be Medieval since it is mentioned as Eordbirig in a Charter of 1044. Other details: Plan, section and photograph.

Department of Environment, 1979, Castle Dyke (Schedule Document). SDV287375.

Castle Dyke is a small ring work situated on level ground on Little Haldon. The defences include a 4 foot (1.22 metres) high bank and a ditch measuring 45 feet (13.72 metres) overall. The entry on the east is probably original. The diagonal cut bend in the metalled road is probably recent. Date uncertain; might be Bronze Age since not definitely sited. In good condition and has never been ploughed. Other details: Monument 263.

Gray, V. K., 1979, Castle Dyke, Ashcombe and Dawlish (Report - Assessment). SDV346827.

Castle Dyke is a small ring work with a bank about 4 foot high (1.22 metres) Entrance on east is clear, an opening has been cut from the road in the south with a short level track lined by a white painted fence on each side where it crosses bank. There is a flagpole just inside and some jumps set up inside the ring work. The bank is gorse covered with some lower parts used probably by horse riders but it is not badly eroded. The ditch is clear round the outside. There is no sign of the 'diagonal cut beside the metalled road'. The entrance made into the ringwork from the road is used by horses and cars, but there does not seem to be any damage done to the bank or ditch. The bank is believed to have been reshaped in comparatively modern times. Other details: Monument 263.

Unknown, 1984-1986, Castle Ditch or Haldon Camp (Worksheet). SDV358883.

Department of Environment, 1986, Castle Dyke (Correspondence). SDV287393.

Scheduled Monument Consent letter.

Department of Environment, 1987, Castle Dyke (Correspondence). SDV337158.

Scheduled Monument Consent letter.

Dyer, M., 1996, Devon County Council Haldon Ridge Survey: Summary Report, 30 (Report - Survey). SDV290454.

Fox, A., 1996, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, 25 (Monograph). SDV7958.

Exeter Archaeology, 1996-1997, Haldon Ridge Survey Archive (Archive - Survey). SDV322182.

Visited on 11th March 1996. Bank, outer bank and ditch still generally well-preserved. The centre of the ringwork is open with short grass and a few rushes and 2 small clumps of trees. There is a ring of small trees, gorse and bramble around the inside of the bank (wider on the north side). In the centre there is a concrete base which has been used for lighting fires/barbecues (also broken bottles and burnt cans) - surrounded by a larger burnt area. Also other small burnt patches in the central area from fires. There is also picnic litter inside the bank on the east side. A ditch 11 meters by 1.25 meters has been excavated across the south entrance to the ringwork from the road, presumably to prevent vehicles accessing the central area and to reduce use of barbecues etc. Some limited damage occurring to the main bank from paths and tracks being worn across it.
A: well-worn path through the bank at 250 degrees, 1 meter wide and cutting 0.75 meters deep into it. Probably west exit point of footpath shown on 1890 6 inch map - now no longer an official footpath but part of line of Ashcombe/Dawlish parish boundary.
B: path 1 meter wide by 0.4 meter deep across bank at 280 degrees - (also cuts the outer bank) to a depth of 0.6 meters.
C: old/disused path/ride 2 meters wide by 0.75 meters deep across bank at 310 degrees.
D: current path/ride 2 meters wide by 0.75 meters deep across bank at 0 degrees (with fresh hoof prints).
E: original entrance into ringwork at 80 degrees on the northeast. 3-4 meters wide with causeway across the ditch 5 meters wide. A well used path runs into the centre of the ringwork from here.
F: slight erosion of bank also occuring at 110 degrees where a swing has been hung from a tree over a water-filled section of the ditch.

Griffith, F. M., 1997, Castle Dyke (Personal Comment). SDV337156.

Condition as described by Exeter Archaeology above. At point 'E' described above, three stones are exposed on south side of opening, which may form part of original entrance structure. Their protection recommended in proposed Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

National Monuments Record, 2011, 447664 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV346826.

Castle Dyke is a sub-oval univallate earthwork encompassing 0.73 hectares with a bank and outer ditch and traces of a counterscarp bank. There are two entrances to the unraised interior. The southern entrance interposes a ditch which is at differing depths on either side. Also here the inner scarp of the bank is of differing lengths. This suggests the gap results from `gang working' and is original. The north-eastern entrance is flanked by the only traces of the counter scarp bank which suggests it is also original. Recent use of this gap has exposed the stone base of the bank which indicates the entrance was under 3 metres wide, as is the southern entrance. The earthwork accords with a pre-Norman date and its situation would suggest a small defensive settlement site probably of Iron Age date.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

'Castle Dyke' shown on modern mapping as a sub-circular earthwork.

Next Perspectives, 2015-2017, Aerial Photography for Great Britain, Next Perspectives APGB Imagery SX9276-SX9277 08-JUN-2015 & 08-AUG-2015 (Aerial Photograph). SDV361515.

The enclosure banks and ditches are obscured by vegetation.

Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2018-2019, The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 1, Haldon Ridge to Dart Valley (Interpretation). SDV361305.

Castle Dyke is a roughly oval enclosure defined by a single bank or rampart, situated on a level plateau or terrace at the north-west end of a spur at Little Haldon, approximately equidistant between Higher Rixdale Farm and Smallacombe Farm. The enclosure is bisected by the Dawlish and Aschombe parish boundary.
The Ashcombe segment of the enclosure is largely obscured from view by plantation tree cover from the 1940s onwards, leaving only the southern section within Dawlish parish, including possible entrance, visible on aerial photography and available for transcription. At the time of the Aerial Investigation and Mapping survey no measured survey could be located to inform interpretation and no lidar coverage for this area was available.
The enclosure bank and ditches were entirely obscured by tree cover on digital images derived from aerial photographs of 2015.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV1312Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1931. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. VIII. A5 Hardback. 492.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV287375Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1979. Castle Dyke. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV287393Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1986. Castle Dyke. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV290454Report - Survey: Dyer, M.. 1996. Devon County Council Haldon Ridge Survey: Summary Report. Exeter Archaeology Report. 96.26. A4 Stapled + Digital. 30.
SDV306314Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1906. 102SW. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV322182Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 1996-1997. Haldon Ridge Survey Archive. Haldon Ridge Survey Archive. Unknown.
SDV326681Correspondence: Department of Environment. Castle Dyke. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337152Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1960. SX97NW3. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV337154Worksheet: Cherry, J. B.. 01/09/1991. Earthwork. Devon County Sites and Monuments Register. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV337155Worksheet: Legge, L. G.. 09/10/1991. Castle Dyke. Devon County Sites and Monuments Register. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV337156Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1997. Castle Dyke.
SDV337157Record Office Collection: Unknown. 1827. 484M/T3/20. Map (Paper).
SDV337158Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1987. Castle Dyke. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
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. 601-2.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #110196 ]
SDV346826National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 447664. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV346827Report - Assessment: Gray, V. K.. 1979. Castle Dyke, Ashcombe and Dawlish. Ancient Monuments Wardens Report Form. A4 Single Sheet.
SDV352112Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1950. RAF/541/520. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1824 RP 4084-4085 04-NOV-1946.
SDV352344Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1824. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1890 RS 4411-4412 10-DEC-1946.
SDV358883Worksheet: Unknown. 1984-1986. Castle Ditch or Haldon Camp. Devon County Sites and Monuments Register.
SDV361305Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2018-2019. The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 1, Haldon Ridge to Dart Valley. Historic England Research Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV361515Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2015-2017. Aerial Photography for Great Britain. Digital. Next Perspectives APGB Imagery SX9276-SX9277 08-JUN-2015 & 08-AUG-2015.
SDV7958Monograph: Fox, A.. 1996. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Paperback Volume. 25.

Associated Monuments

MDV9794Related to: Barrow East of Castle Dyke (Monument)
MDV9795Related to: Barrow to the east of Castle Dyke (Monument)
MDV30612Related to: Port Way to north-west of Dawlish (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7515 - The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping (formerly NMP) Survey (Ref: ACD1748)

Date Last Edited:Jan 30 2019 5:16PM