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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Higher Castles enclosure, Broomfield
Civil Parish: Broomfield
PRN 28537Excavation (1964), Higher Castles, Broomfield
Grid Ref: ST 216 320 (ST 23 SW)
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Image: Image of HER 10229 - Photo by Somerset County Council (01 August 1977)
  HER 10229 - Photo by Somerset County Council (01 August 1977)

Public access:

The public accessibility of this site is unknown or has not been checked. Please ask locally and do not visit without permission. [Information last updated on 21 May 2003]


The HER is currently being transferred to a new system. Please ask about this changed entry. {0}

A large single bank and ditched sub-rectangular enclosure about 160m by 160m internally. The bank and ditch have been most severely eroded on the downhill south-east side where a much spread low bank remains. On the north-east the bank and ditch are still clear: the maximum height from bottom of ditch to top of bank is not however more than 0.4m. On the north-west a considerable, scarp, partly natural, remains and towards the west angle the bank remains intact and unploughed, c. 3m high from the exterior and c0.3m high from the interior. The scarp of the south-west rampart survives in the wood. No interior features were noted. The interior slopes down in the south-south-west direction. No indication of entrance. The outwork postulated by Grinsell does not correspond well with the usual pattern in which these features are up-slope from the main enclosure. This lies along and slightly across the slope. A pronounced 'toe' and an angle to the east may however suggest an outwork. {1}

A trench 50 feet long cut was through the bank and ditch in May 1964 (see PRN 28537). This showed the ditch to be U shaped, 8' 3" deep and 12' wide, cut into the solid rock. Several sherds of Iron Age 'A' pottery were recovered from the ditch. {3}

Attempts to schedule site. {8}

Site now visible as a cropmark. {12}

First identified by Dr. H W Catling in spring 1951. {13}

The possible late Prehistoric and/or Roman enclosure has been mapped from aerial photographs. The enclosure appears to have been defined by two banks, separated by a ditch but does not survive in this form for a complete circuit. The internal bank encloses a rectangular area measuring 110m by 80m. A kink in the south east side of the enclosure appears on some aerial photographs to indicate a gap and may be the site of an entrance but it is not clear from the photos alone. A possible outer work, which may yet prove to be simply a Post Medieval field boundary, extends parallel to the north and east sides of the enclosure and is situated 60m to the north east. The enclosure has been gradually ploughed smooth for over fifty years but has been recorded at regular intervals on aerial photographs during this time. The enclosure is unusual in that it survives as an earthwork but is of a comparable to shape to numerous Prehistoric the majority of these enclosures and so may indicate a different use or status. {14}

The site was first noticed in an aerial photograph. The area is now permanently pasture although in an earlier it had had a period of arable. The position of the site could be important as it overlooks the Buncombe Valley. The banks and ditches were measured. {15}


0 Compiler comment - Webster, CJ (Chris). Somerset Historic Environment Record (12/02/2016). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained.
1 Site visit report - Burrow, I [Ian]. Somerset County Council. (15/3/1979) Report location: HER files
2 Description - Burrow, I. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD.  (1981), 264. British Archaeological Reports 91.
3 Excavation report - Anon. Excavation at Broomfield Hill. Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset.  28 (1968), 187-189
4 Mention - Grinsell, LV. The Archaeology of Exmoor.  (1970), 91.
5 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 23 SW 4 (1978) Location: HER files
6 Aerial photographs - HSL 71 145 Run 21E 154. (18/07/1971) Location: Local Studies collection at Somerset Heritage Centre.
7 Mention - Grinsell, LV. Prehistoric Sites in the Quantock Country.  (1976), 19.
8 Correspondence - Somerset County Council to English Heritage. (July 1992) Location: HER files
9 Measured plan - Somerset County Council. Plan of Earhworks, Broomfield Hill. (February 1988) Drawing HBC 1/10/3. Location: HER collections. HER digital source: 23021.
10 Section drawing - Somerset County Council. Broomfield Hill Earthwork 1964, Section of Bank and Ditch. (February 1988) Drawing HBC 1/10/5. Location: HER collections. HER digital source: 22063.
11 Mention - Dennison, E. Broomfield, Broomfield Hill. In Dennison, E. Somerset Archaeology 1987. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History131 (1987), 203-231 at 207-209 with copies of plans.
12 Aerial photographs - DAP SK11-13, TZ3-6. (1991) Location: HER digital information, prints in archive at Somerset Heritage Centre.
13 Detailed records - Catling, HW. General Archaeology of Broomfield.  (1951) unpublished typescript. Location: HER files under PRN 10241.
14 Data transfer - National Monuments Record (English Heritage). Record ID: ST 23 SW 4 (29/10/2002)
15 Description - Catling, H. Higher Castles: A newly identified earthwork in the parish of Broomfield, Somerset.  (1951) unpublished typescript with plans. Location: HER file. HER digital source: 16697.

Record created in December 1982

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