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Road Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Exford, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1262 / 51°7'34"N

Longitude: -3.6263 / 3°37'34"W

OS Eastings: 286291.095504

OS Northings: 137578.168297

OS Grid: SS862375

Mapcode National: GBR LB.9754

Mapcode Global: VH5K8.3Y9K

Entry Name: Road Castle

Scheduled Date: 25 February 1935

Last Amended: 3 September 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021360

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35978

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Exford

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes Road Castle, an earthwork enclosure of Iron Age date
located immediately south of Lyncombe Wood. The enclosure is situated below
the summit of a broad spur which forms the northern end of Road Hill, and
which overlooks the Exe Valley on the north and east sides. The enclosure is
near square in plan, with rounded corners, and occupies a well defended
position which, on the north side and north eastern corner, falls steeply
away to the River Exe below. An area of approximately 0.3ha is enclosed. The
south, west and south east sides are defined by a steeply scarped rampart
bank, up to 4m high, and an external ditch up to 1.4m deep. The bank and
ditch together have an overall width of 14m. An external, low counterscarp
bank, which extends from the south western corner to the south eastern
corner, is visible along the south side of the enclosure. This is located
some 6m from the edge of the outer ditch and is 3m wide. The profile of the
bank on the east side of the enclosure has been modified by the later
addition of a hedgebank along most of its course, although it is probable
that the majority of the prehistoric bank has been incorporated into the
later hedgebank. The outer ditch along this eastern section of bank is less
substantial than in other areas and is visible as a shallow depression about
0.3m deep, but will survive as a buried feature. On the north side of the
enclosure the rampart bank is formed by a steep outward-facing scarp which
has a 4m wide berm on its outer, north-facing side. There is no evidence for
a ditch along this section of the enclosure. The rampart banks throughout the
circuit of the enclosure are generally earthen built, but the existence of a
length of laid stone exposed on the west bank suggests that there was an
external stone revetment wall along at least part of its course. The original
entrance into the enclosure is believed to be on the east side where a 3m
wide opening is defined to the south by a rounded terminal bank, and on the
north by the outward curving hedgebank which may conceal the original bank
terminal. This entrance provides modern gated access into the enclosure.
There are no recorded features within the enclosure. The earliest known
recording of the name `Road' occurs around 1219 when it is referred to as `la
Rode' in a document known as the Perambulations of Exmoor Forest.
All gates, gateposts, fencing and fenceposts are excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Exmoor is the most easterly of the three main upland areas in the south
western peninsula of England. In contrast to the other two areas, Dartmoor
and Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and
little excavation of Exmoor monuments. However, detailed survey work by
the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England has confirmed
a comparable richness of archaeological remains, with evidence of human
exploitation and occupation from the Mesolithic period to the present day.
Hillslope enclosures provide the main evidence for the Iron Age on Exmoor.
First categorised by Lady Aileen Fox in 1952, their morphology has been
refined by the Royal Commission survey. Despite their name they do not
occur only on hillslopes, although their usual location is on a sheltered
valley side. They are smaller than hillforts, generally no larger than
between 50m and 80m across, and usually less well defended. The enclosure
itself is defined by a single bank, often with an associated ditch, with a
single entrance. In some cases, where natural slopes form part of the
defences, the bank may not form a complete circuit and may be missing
where the angle of slope acts in its stead. Where it can be recognised,
the settlement evidence within these enclosures comprises platforms
indicating the position of buildings.
Around 50 hillslope enclosures with upstanding earthworks have been
identified on Exmoor. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples, particularly those with
a complete or near complete circuit of defences, are considered worthy of
protection.

Despite some past surface damage to parts of the western rampart, Road
Castle hill-slope enclosure survives well and is an impressive example of
this class of monument with its substantial and well-preserved earthworks.
Archaeological remains and environmental evidence are likely to be
preserved within the enclosure's interior and have the potential for
providing important information about the site and the wider landscape in
which it was constructed. Road Castle is one of a group of similar
enclosures which date from the same general period and which occupy
commanding positions overlooking river valleys in the Exmoor landscape.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Macdermot, E T, A History of the Forest of Exmoor, (1973), 117
Other
SS 83 NE 5, National Monuments Record,

Source: Historic England

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