Dowsborough Camp/hillfort, Holford, Somerset

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Scheduling affirmed with new national number on 20/6/1994 (was Somerset 95).

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.

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

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.


OS map reference: ST 1602 3912. Nearest town/village: Holford.

Data kindly supplied by the Somerset Historic Environment Record.

Record created in March 1984

© Copyright Somerset County Council 2007

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