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Somerset Historic Environment Record

34164

Site Name: Daws Castle, Watchet
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Daw's Castle [No:33712]
Civil Parish: Watchet
Comprises:
PRN 15181Excavation (1982), Daws Castle, Watchet
Grid Ref: ST 062 433 (ST 04 SE)
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Image: Image of HER 34164 - Photo by Somerset County Council (February 1982)
  HER 34164 - Photo by Somerset County Council (February 1982)

Public access:

As far as we are aware all or part of this site is an English Heritage property open to the public at certain times. [Information last updated on 07 April 2003]

Details:

Remains of an enclosure which may have been very extensive, but much has been lost in landslips. The principle remaining feature is a scarp c200 yards long running in a curved line from E to N with its convexity pointing S. At both E and W ends there is a bank running along the crest of the scarp for a short distance. Two further portions of the bank are visible just above the cliff. {1}

Enclosure apparently extended for 300 yards E. {2}

The enclosure does not appear to be of IA origin - may be the remains of a Burghal Hidage fort. {3}

Univallate hillfort, an uncertain proportion of which has been lost by coastal erosion. The site is used as a council rubbish tip. The defences consist of a bank c2m high (maximum) with a slight terrace in front on the SW side. On the E the defences are barely traceable, but it seems clear that the modern road follows the line of the ditch on this side. At the cliff top on the W side the rampart appears to branch into two, one part turning E close to the top of the cliff and this may be the 20 yard length rampart described by VCH, but the main line of the bank is continued as a scarp right to the cliff top. At the E end of the site late C19 limekilns (PRN 30009) have also destroyed the earthworks. {4}

Part of the site was excavated by T Ambrose in 1971 but there are no records and the actual location of the excavation is not known. {5}

A number of E-W orientated graves were found in or near Daws Castle in the C19 and are thought to be C5 and possibly of Irish origin. {6}

Remains were first found when excavating for the limekilns (PRN 30009) and more bones were discovered later. These were reinterred "higher up the field" by the charcoal burner. {7}

The site covers several acres but the only marked feature is a scarp to the SW and S above the road. {8}

The possible minster nearby (PRN 34175) may add weight to the theory that the site was the Saxon burh. {11}

Scheduling revised with new national number on 12 March 2003 (was Somerset 378). The limekiln (PRN 16053) is no longer within the scheduled area. {16}

The 1982 excavations are re-interpreted to show two phases: one in the early C9 and one as part of a more organised system of fortifications in the later C9. {17}

References:

1 Description - Page, W. Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 2 (1911), 528-9.
2 Mention - Burrow, EJ. Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset.  (1924), 140.
3 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 04 SE 1 (1979) Location: HER files
4 Description - Burrow, I. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD.  (1981), 232. British Archaeological Reports 91.
5 Verbal communication - Dennison, E [Ed]. Somerset County Council, Sites and Monuments Record (23/09/1986). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
6 Mention - Pearce, SM. The Kingdom of Dumnonia.  (1978), 66 and 184.
7 Mention - Page, JLW. An Exploration of Exmoor.  (1890), 241-42.
8 Detailed records - Weston, SM. English Heritage Field Monument Warden. (28/10/1983) Report location: HER files
9 Mention - Rahtz, P. Irish settlements in Somerset. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy  76C (1976), 223-29. Copy available in SANHS library at Somerset Heritage Centre.
10 Mention - Burrow, I. Possible Irish earthworks in Somerset. In Rahtz, P. Irish settlements in Somerset. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy  76C (1976), 223-29 at 228-29. Copy in SANHS library at Somerset Heritage Centre.
11 Verbal communication - Burrow, I [Ian]. Somerset County Council (20/05/1984). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
12 Aerial photographs - 3.37.226, 3.37.254-257. (July 1979) Location: Historic Environment Service slide collection at Somerset Heritage Centre.
13 Sketch plan - Burrow, EJ. Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset.  (1924), 140.
14 Description - Burrow, I. Historical background etc for Hillfort Study Group.  (1982) note. Location: Unchecked but probably HER file.
15 Aerial photographs - DAP VT20. (1993) Location: HER digital information, prints in archive at Somerset Heritage Centre.
16 Correspondence - English Heritage to Somerset County Council. (17/3/2003) Location: HER file.
17 Description - Haslam, J. Daws Castle, Somerset, and civil defence measures in southern and midland England in the ninth to eleventh centuries. Archaeological Journal  168 (2011), 195-226. Copy available in SANHS library at Somerset Heritage Centre.

Record created in May 1984

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