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Brewer's Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Dulverton, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0564 / 51°3'22"N

Longitude: -3.5949 / 3°35'41"W

OS Eastings: 288319.64106

OS Northings: 129770.029811

OS Grid: SS883297

Mapcode National: GBR LC.FP45

Mapcode Global: FRA 36CB.7BC

Entry Name: Brewer's Castle

Scheduled Date: 1 August 1977

Last Amended: 3 September 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021358

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35976

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Dulverton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes Brewer's Castle, a hillfort of Iron Age date located at
the eastern end of Hawkridge Ridge Wood in the lower Barle Valley, about 3km
north west of Dulverton. The site occupies a steep, flat-topped knoll which
is bounded by the River Barle on the north, east and south east sides, and by
Dane's Brook on the south and south west sides.
The hillfort enclosure is pear-shaped and follows the natural contours of the
knoll with the broadest end to the east. An area of just under 0.4ha is
defined by the sides of the knoll which have been artificially enhanced to
form a bank with an outward-facing scarp. This is between 2m and 4m high and
is visible as a low bank less than 0.5m high internally except on the north
and north west sides. The internal dimensions of the defended area are
approximately 75m east-west and 62m north-south. The enclosure has two
entrances, one on the west side and one on the north east side, both of which
may be original. The western entrance is located across the narrowest part of
the enclosure and is formed by a 2m break in the scarp with the scarp ends
flanked by internal banks. The north eastern entrance is formed by simple
inturned scarp ends. A length of revetment walling survives in the scarp face
to the south of this entrance. Three level platforms have been identified
within the interior and all are located within the shelter of the north
eastern entrance. Two of these platforms are thought to represent the sites
of buildings, possibly contemporary with the prehistoric hillfort; the
largest platform is rectangular in plan, 6m long by 2.5m wide with visible
traces of the remains of a wall. A smaller, sub-rectangular platform is
located immediately to the south. A third platform is visible as a circular
depression and has a spoil heap located 10m to its north. It may also be
contemporary with the enclosure, although its function is unknown.
Vitrified stone recovered from the base of the rampart to the south of the
northern entrance suggests destruction by fire because of the high
temperature needed for vitrification to take place.
The site is traditionally associated with William Brewer, a warden of the
Royal Forest of Exmoor from 1216 to 1225, who had permission to hunt deer. It
has been suggested that the remains of a small rectangular building located
at the foot of the promontory about 100m from the hillfort (not included in
the scheduling) represent William Brewer's hunting lodge, although this is
not substantiated.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to
their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large
storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and
square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often
represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight
univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally.
Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of
the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is
relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the
Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within
the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh
Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Brewer's Castle hillfort, despite its relatively small size, survives well
in its commanding position on a steep promontory overlooking the Barle
Valley. Survey has shown that archaeological remains and environmental
evidence are preserved within its interior and these have the potential
for providing important information about the site and the wider landscape
in which it was constructed. Brewer's Castle is one of only a few examples
of hillforts distributed across the region which occupy prominent
positions overlooking the major river valleys.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), 63-64
SS 82 NE 1, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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