Bury Castle Hillfort, Selworthy Plantation, Selworthy, Somerset

Bury Castle hillfort is a multivallate enclosure of under 3 acres at the end of the spur immediately NW of Selworthy. Defences consist of widely spaced, outer ditched, triple ramparts to the W and a scarped, precipitous slope to the E.

This is a small univallate hillfort with an annexe or outwork to the W. The third rampart mentioned by Allcroft is a bank running from SS91524714 to SS91584734 and is of totally different appearance to the other defences. It is probably a field bank. The main enclosure is bounded by a rampart and outer ditch, but because it is situated on a W-E slope the ditch disappears and the rampart degenerates into little more than an outer scarp on the downhill (E) side. No continuation of the S end of the W earthwork can be traced, but the N end turns and is linked by a scarp to the main enclosure.

The main crossbank, which is an open V-shape in plan with a gap at the apex, stands up to 4m high with a ditch on the W side. The outer side of the ditch is revetted in dry stone masonry. Between this and the main enclosure the ground falls slightly and the cross bank is clearly sited for a better view to the NW than can be obtained from the inner enclosure. The earthworks of the latter are smaller in scale with an entrance on the SW. It is possible that the N end of the crossbank runs ESE along the top of the N slope to join up with the inner enclosure making the whole complex a “dependent enclosure” hillfort as postulated by Fox.

At the entrance to the fort on the N side a number of stones have been pulled from the bank to form a cairn.

There is another bank 200m to the NW which may be an outwork (see PRN 35796).

A small hillfort or defended enclosure with an additional cross-ridge defence on the uphill west side. Situated on the tip of a spur, with a steep drop on two sides, but a gentler approach to the south-west The enclosure is sub-rectangular in plan with slightly curving sides and rounded corners, having an internal area of 0.21ha enclosed by univallate earthworks. The defences are greatest on the upper sides, with a bank up to 2m high and outer ditch up to 2m deep, forming an external face 1.7m high. On the lower sides use is made of the natural slope which has been scarped to form a bank 0.2m high above a drop of 1.8m, with a slight outer terrace. The earthworks have a steep, well-preserved profile. The most likely original entrance is in the centre of the north-eastern side where there is a disturbed area consisting of a gap in the rampart and a mound of stone extending out from the interior of the enclosure, truncating the ditch which turns out along it. This may represent a tumbled out-turned entrance or collapsed gatehouse. Uphill from this there is a counterscarp bank outside the ditch.

The present entrance on the south-west appears to have been created by a modern trackway over the ramparts. Uphill, 32m above the enclosure, is a cross-ridge work with two arms meeting at a shallow point on the crest of the ridge. The north-east arm, 45m long, runs parallel to the top side of the enclosure, and the second arm runs south from this for 45m. It is formed of a bank c.2m high and external ditch c.2m deep, of similar proportions to the upper side of the enclosure, forming an external face 2.5m high. On the north-east this work runs to the edge of the spur and turns briefly towards the enclosure as a scarp and terrace. A length of natural scarp completes the gap between the two. On the south, however, the work ends well short of the edge of the hill, suggesting that approach was intended from this direction.

There is a gap through the cross-work immediately south of the apex, consisting of a shallowing of the ditch and lowering of the bank, but this appears to be modern. The cross-work may have defined an outer enclosure, but a more likely purpose was to provide better visibility both from and of the site along the uphill approach. Such cross-works covering the otherwise blind approach to a defended site are a feature of several sites in the region. The outer edge of the cross-work ditch has been reused as the course of a later field enclosure bank, and it has been faced with dry-stone walling. Redundant field banks are present around the site and date from the post-medieval or early modern period.

Scheduling revised with new national number 16.08.94 was Somerset 205.

The site comprises a sub rectangular enclosure c0.2ha in area. The defences of this consist of a single flat topped rampart on the W (10m wide, 1.6m high, 3m above ditch) which gradually fades away to the E where the hill is steeper. The original entrance is likely to have been in the NE. On the W side of the entrance a short external bank 4m wide and 1.4m high runs parallel to the main rampart for 2.3m before meeting the external edge of the ditch. Inside the area is mostly level with two scoops near the entrance, one 2.2m x 2.6m x 0.5m deep and the other 3.6m x 2.7m x 0.5m deep. Both could be caused by quarrying of the rampart, tree falls or be original features. Two outwork banks survive outside the enclosure. The nearer is 30m up the slope and consists of a V-shaped bank with outer ditch cutting across the ridge. The N arm is 62m long 2.5-3m above the ditch and parallel with the inner enclosure. At the end it merges into the scarp as a terrace. The S arm is 40m long. The second outwork lies 150m further up the slope (see PRN 35796).

Surveyed at 1:1000 by RCHME.


OS map reference: SS 9177 4716. Nearest town/village: Selworthy.

Data kindly supplied by the Somerset Historic Environment Record.

Record created in May 1984

© Copyright Somerset County Council 2007

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