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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Dowsborough hillfort, Holford
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Dowsborough hillfort and associated round barrow [No:24007]
Civil Parish: Holford
PRN 15536Second World War slit trenches, Dowsborough
PRN 33307Mound in Dowsborough Camp, Holford
Grid Ref: ST 1602 3912 (ST 13 NE)
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Image: Image of HER 33306 - Photo by Somerset County Council (14 January 2007)
  HER 33306 - Photo by Somerset County Council (14 January 2007)

Public access:

As far as we are aware all or part of this site lies on land that is open to the public under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 [Information last updated on 16 December 2002]


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

Dowsborough camp c340 yards by 170 yards. The defence is a bank of stones with a ditch and second rampart below, following the natural line of the hill. The upper bank has been demolished for some distance along the along the S face from the W. The entrance seems to have been at the apex on the SE, but the banks have been altered and the ditch partly filled in. {1}

Univallate hillfort with a nearly complete counterscarp bank. Entrance at E end. The wide gap in the ditch is an original feature and an amorphous scatter of stones inside the rampart may indicate that the entrance was originally more complex. {2}

Contour hillfort with main rampart 4m above an outer ditch with counterscarp bank. Second gap on N side where a ridgeway runs away northwards. Interior entirely overgrown. Name perhaps the same personal name as that for Daws Castle. {3}

All heavily wooded except for c30m on N side Bank much more eroded. Evidence of small fires. Inner rampart 9 to 17ft above present surface of the ditch. {4}

Large univallate hillfort, oval in shape enclosing 2.7ha. Bank up to 1.5m high (tumbled along part of S) outer ditch creating 2-3m drop, counterscarp up to 1.5m high on all but parts of N and W. Two apparently original entrances, though a number of probably later narrow causeways and gaps. NW entrance is a simple causeway and gap (suffering severe erosion). Entrance on E tip of fort from ridge is more complex. S rampart slightly inturned, N disturbed with ditch partly infilled but may have been similarly inturned. Entrance way leads between ramparts and continues as passage between two flanking structures which include circular probable guardhouses. Mound inside NW entrance (PRN 33307), possible barrow or later fire beacon. Rest of interior under dwarf oak and shrubs, mainly accessible but the only feature apparent is a shallow round hollow, perhaps a charcoal burning feature. {8}

A post was erected near the E entrance to commemorate the coronation of George V. {10}

The post has now fallen. There are local memories of a wartime emplacement here. {11}

Scheduling affirmed with new national number on 20 June 1994 (was Somerset 95). {12}

Condition is much as before but erosion is becoming severe at the NE where there is a view point and a new path has formed. {14}

The worst erosion scar where the path leaves the fort northwards was recorded, infilled and reseeded in 2001. {15}

Site surveyed by English Heritage from September 2001. The earthworks enclose an elongated oval shape of about 3ha and run roughly along the 325m contour. They comprise a bank and ditch with intermittent counterscarp bank with an overall width of some 20m. The rampart is 1-1.5m wide, 1.2m high and comprosed of stone and earth. The ditch is 1m wide and 4.5m deep. The counterscarp is 1m high, 1m wide and absent on the NW angle and for some 50m along the N side. There are 4 well defined entrances, only one (at the eastern angle) appears to be original. It has been disturbed but appears to be a simple gap in the earthworks. The rampart is slightly raised and inturned at the terminals. There are several hollows in the interior which appear to be mining trial holes. This may be the interpretation for the hollows near the entrance which have previously been interpreted as guard chambers etc. They are however similar to late/post-Roman additions to the hillfort at Cadbury Congresbury (North Somerset SMR No 389). There is also what appears to be a hollow for a small building 6.6m long and 3.6m wide set behind the southern rampart but this could also be conjoined trial pits. {16}

Various areas of vehicle erosion are becoming apparent and will need to be addressed. {17}


0 Compiler comment - Webster, CJ (Chris). Somerset Historic Environment Record (12/02/2016). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained.
1 Description - Page, W. Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 2 (1911), 492.
2 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 13 NE 2 (1965) Location: HER files. HER digital source: 1456.
3 Description - Burrow, I. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD.  (1981), 226-27. British Archaeological Reports 91.
4 Detailed records - Various. Department of the Environment and English Heritage (1980s) Location: HER collections.
5 Mention - Burrow, EJ. Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset.  (1924), 80.
6 Mention - Page, JLW. An Exploration of Exmoor.  (1890), 290-91.
7 Mention - Allcroft, AH. Earthworks of England.  (1908), 631.
8 Detailed records - Preece, A. Dowsborough Hillfort.  (17/9/1993) unpublished Monuments Protection Programme report for English Heritage. Location: HER files.
9 Sketch plan - Preece, A. English Heritage. Sketch plan of features inside entrance. (1993) Location: HER files. HER digital source: 24069.
10 Mention - Lawrence, B. Quantock Country.  (1952), 28.
11 Verbal communication - Croft, R. Somerset County Council, Heritage Service (1993). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
12 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council. (13/7/1994) Location: HER files.
13 Aerial photographs - CUCAP QB 45. (25/6/1955) Location: HER files.
14 Detailed records - Graham, A (Alan). English Heritage Field Monument Warden (21/4/1998) Location: HER files. HER digital source: 22882.
15 Detailed records - Grove, J. Somerset Monument Management Scheme: Dowsborough Hillfort.  Unpublished Somerset County Council report (2001) Location: HER files.
16 Survey report - Riley, H. Dowsborough Camp, Holford, Somerset.  Unpublished English Heritage report No: AI/23/2002 (2002) Location: HER files. HER digital source: 23389.
17 Survey report - Riley, H. Dowsborough Camp and Dead Woman's Ditch, Quantock Hills AONB: Feasility Study.  Unpublished Hazel Riley report (2014) Location: HER file. HER digital source: 38201.

Record created in March 1984

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