An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1952.
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3 ASKERSWELL (C.d.)
(O.S. 6 in. (a) XXXVIII, N.E. (b)XXXVIII, S.E. c)XXXIX, N.W. d)XXXIX, S.W.)
Askerswell is a parish 4 m. E. of Bridport. Eggardon Camp is the principal monument.
b(1) Parish Church of St. Michael stands in the S.W. part of the parish, and was rebuilt in 1858 except for the West Tower.This was built early in the 15th century and is of coursed local rubble with dressings of the same material.
Architectural Description—The West Tower (11 ft. by 10 ft.) is of three stages (Plate 2) with a moulded plinth, embattled parapet, pinnacles, gargoyles and a S.E. stair-turret also embattled. The details are of early 15th-century date. The tower-arch is moulded and two-centred, the reveals and soffit are panelled with trefoil-headed panels, two in the width. The W. doorway has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with blank shields and foliage in the spandrels and the top moulding of the plinth is carried round as a label; the W. window is of three trefoiled ogee lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label. The second stage has an inserted 16th-century S. window of one three-centred light. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of two trefoiled lights in a square head. The ground stage has a moulded ceiling-beam, carved with a crook and a rosary.
Fittings—Bells; five; 2nd by George Purdue, 1619. Bell-frame, old. Brass Indent: In tower— slab, top part missing, with indent of foliated cross and marginal inscription in separate capitals, slab formed part of memorial to Thomas de Luda and Eleanor his wife, c. 1320, formerly in Abbotsbury Abbey, inscription records gift of Holywell to the abbey, other half of slab now in the church of Whit-church Canonicorum. Door: In tower-staircase— of nail-studded battens with strap-hinges, 17th-century or earlier. Font (Plate 13): Circular convex bowl with simple intersecting arcading, moulded rim and necking, cylindrical stem with unfinished band of interlacing ornament, square base with spur-ornaments, late 12th-century. Image: On W. wall of tower—carved stone panel of the Crucifixion (Plate 10) with the Virgin and St. John, 15th-century. Monuments: In vestry—(1) to William Locke sen., rector, 1686, and William Locke jun., rector, 1722, stone tablet with arched panel. In churchyard—S. of chancel, (2) to Richard Oad, 1676–7, headstone; E. of porch, (3) to Julian Jenkins, 1686, Julian Jenkins, 1689, and Margaret, wife of Julian Jenkins sen., 1704, table-tomb. Plate: includes a set of a cup, a paten, a flagon, all of 1850, and an alms-dish of the same date. Seating: In tower—two coffin-stools, with turned legs, one stool with enriched rails, 17th-century.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with thatch or modern slate. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and original fireplaces.
b(2) House, two tenements, 30 yards S. of the church, retains some original stone windows, one of three lights and one with a label.
b(3) Court Farm, house 20 yards W. of the church, retains three original stone-mullioned windows, two with labels.
b(4) Medway's Farm, house 200 yards N.W. of the church, has later additions on the E. and S. The doorway has moulded jambs and three-centred head.
b(5) House, on the N. side of the road 40 yards N. of (4), retains a number of original stone-mullioned windows, some of them blocked.
b(6) Cottage, 120 yards W.N.W. of (5), retains some original stone windows and a doorway with moulded jambs and carved paterae in the spandrels of the head.
b(7) Cottage, on the S. side of the road 40 yards S.W. of (6).
b(8) House, 640 yards W.N.W. of the church, was built in the 16th century and has an 18th-century addition on the S. Inside the building one room has original moulded ceiling-beams and hollow-chamfered joists.
b(9) Hembury Farm, house 230 yards N.W. of (8), has been largely remodelled in the 18th century; on the S. front is a stone with the initials and date, G.B. 1749.
a(10) House, on the N. side of the road at Spyway, nearly ½ m. N.N.W. of the church, has been much altered.
c(11) South Eggardon House, about ¾ m. N.N.E. of the church, was built in the 16th century and extended N. in the 17th and 18th centuries; of the two E. wings, the northern is a 17th-century addition of two dates. There are some stone-mullioned windows and in the S.E. wing are some reused stone windows with labels and two late mediaeval carved panels, one with a cross formy in a circle and the other with a quatrefoil in a circle and a patera in the middle. Inside the original part of the house is a muntin and plank partition and original moulded ceiling-beams; one room has a fireplace with moulded jambs and head. The inner doorway of the porch has a four-centred head with the scratched initials and date R.W. 1642. On the first floor one room has moulded ceiling-beams formerly making sixteen panels, but in part cut away.
c(12) Eggardon Camp, hill-fort (Plate 71), partly in Powerstock parish, occupies the summit of a hill 800 ft. high, 1½ m. N.E. of the church. The area is over 20 acres, or nearly 36 acres including the defences but excluding the outwork on the S.W.
The hill-fort has a comparatively level enclosure but the ground falls rapidly on the N.E., S., S.W. and W., though to the E. and N.W. it is nearly level. The defences, except on the E. and N.W., consist of three ramparts with two medial ditches; on the W., N.E. and E. sides there is an open area of varying width between the two outer lines. At the N.W. and E. ends, where the ground is practically level and the two entrances to the camp are situated, a different treatment is adopted. The former has an additional outer line of rampart, ditch and counterscarp bank, across the back of the ridge and merging into the main outer line of defence. As will be seen from the plan the entrances through these ramparts are so arranged as to traverse the defences diagonally. There are two entrances through the middle rampart; the central entrance has an inturn on the N. side but the ditch has been cut through in front of it, probably when the second entrance to the N. was formed. This entrance is approached by a sunk track along the edge of the ridge to the N.W. The outermost line is stopped short of this approach and is therefore presumably an addition to the plan, contemporary with the building or extension of the outermost rampart on both sides of the ridge.
At the E. end, the main rampart is higher than elsewhere and has an outer ditch and a slight counterscarp bank. The entrance through the outer line is in the S.E. angle and is flanked by inturned ramparts. Here also the entrances are made to traverse the defences diagonally, additional strength being obtained by the formation of two ramparts with a medial ditch across the enclosure between the two systems. The outer entrance was approached both from the ridge and also by a diagonal track up the S. escarpment of the hill; where this track approaches the entrance it is screened by a short length of outer bank and ditch. On the S. side of the fort an extensive landslip carried away the whole of the defences on the middle of this face; this was remedied by digging a wide ditch in the eastern part of the fallen material and reinstating the outer ditch and bank below it. Neither of these works, however, being at a lower level, make connection with the earlier defences. As part of the same work a further bank was thrown up at the foot of the hill and covering roughly the same lateral extent as the landslip. Through this bank the diagonal approach to the S.E. entrance turns outwards and southwards.
Although no reconstruction of the history of the site is possible without further excavation, evidence of a structural sequence has been noted both at the N.W. end and on the S.Side. In the case of the former, the alteration of the position of the outer entrance coincided with the addition of an outer enclosure. On the S. side, the rebuilding of much of the outer defences, due to the landslip, doubtless explains the presence of the unusual outer line of considerable strength in the valley below it. There is no visible evidence that the multiple defences were preceded by a simpler system.
Within the enclosure are two large mounds, probably barrows, that marked " A " on plan having a diameter of 42 ft. and a height of about 2 ft.; while mound "B" has a diameter of about 42 ft. and a height of 4½ ft. Both have been considerably damaged. There are also a number of small somewhat irregular mounds. Their dimensions are as follows:—(1) disturbed in centre, diam. 23 ft., height 9 in. (2) irregular oval 6 ft. by 5 ft., 6 in. high, possibly natural. (3) oval, diams. 6 ft.by 5½ ft., height about 8 in. (4) roughly circular, 12 ft. diam., height about 9 in. (5) roughly circular, 10½ ft. diam., height about 9 in. (6) rectangular, 19½ ft. by 9 ft., height about 9 in. (7) rectangular, 45 ft. by 9 ft. and 1 ft. high, possibly a portion of a bank. There are also, where shown on plan, traces of banks, perhaps of former enclosures, but they are now somewhat fragmentary and it is impossible to say whether they are original. It is perhaps significant that, as far as can now be seen these banks do not appear to impinge on any trace of a pit.
The small octagonal enclosure, surrounded by a slight bank, some 50 yards from the S.W. rampart, is modern. It represents the site of a former coppice planted to serve as a sea-mark.
The whole floor of the main enclosure is pitted with shallow cup-like hollows in the turf about 4 to 5 yards in diam. Generally speaking, there is no trace of their having been arranged on any direct system beyond the fact that they appear to have been kept clear of the central trackway joining the two entrances. This observation must, however, be qualified by the fact that a modern trackway runs on this line.
During 1900 five of these hollows were excavated (Dr. Colley March, Proc. Soc. Ant.,XVIII, p. 258). They were pits varying in depth from 5 ft. 6 in. to 6 ft. 8 in. In them were found: a flint knife, flint saw, scrapers and numerous flakes, etc.
The ridge on which the camp stands narrows, until it ceases in a rapid fall about 600 yards N.W. of the camp. On the top of this ridge about ¼ mile from the outermost rampart of the camp and a few yards N.W. of the O.S. Trig. point is a slight sinking of about 5 yards diam. and 2½ ft. deep with slight encircling bank. About 20 yards W. of this is a rough transverse ditch across the top of the ridge which here is only about 23 yards in width, with an internal and external bank.
c(13) Earthwork, on the S.E. side of the track 1 m. N.E. of the church, occupies the top of a narrow ridge, about 100 yards across. It consists of a length of cross-dyke with a ditch on the N.E. side. The ditch widens towards the N. and has a length of ditch crossing it at right angles and a slight scarp to the S.E., suggesting a former enclosure.
c(14) Dyke on Haydon Down, 1¼ m. E.N.E. of the church and extending into Litton Cheney parish, consists of a bank with a ditch on the N. side. It extends for about 300 yards across the top of the ridge and may have some connection with (13) above and a dyke in Litton Cheney parish.
d(15) Earthworks on the S. edge of the parish nearly 1 m. E.S.E. of the church, consist of two dykes and a third dyke about 650 yards to the W. cutting across the ridge. All three dykes extend S. into Litton Cheney parish. They run across the road on Askerswell Down. The two eastern dykes extend for some 150 to 200 yards and are about 100 yards apart; they have ditches on the outward side, towards the E. and W. respectively. The third dyke has the ditch on the E. side. There are various other scarps and banks of minor imporatnce.
c(16) Mound, possibly a disturbed barrow, 30 yards S.W. of (13), is about 51 ft. in diam. and 2 ft. high.
d(17) Bowl Barrow, on the N. side of the Bridport road 1,070 yards E.S.E. of the church, is 26 ft. in diam. and 2 ft. high.
d(18) Bowl Barrow, ¼ m. E.S.E. of (17), is 29 ft. in diam. and 2½ ft. high.
c(19) Group of Barrows, near the N.E. boundary of the parish and ½ m. S.E. of (12), are five in number. The most northerly (a), bowl barrow, is 30 ft. in diam. and ¾ ft. high; (b), bowl barrow, 180 yards S.E. of (a), is 60 ft. in diam. and 3¾ ft. high; (c), bowl barrow, 70 yards S.E. of (b), is 30 ft. in diam. and 1 ft. high; (d), bowl barrow, 20 yards S. of (c), is 30 ft. in diam. and 1 ft. high; (e), 40 yards S.W. of (d), is an oval 46 by 36 ft. and 1½ ft. high.
c(20) Earthworks, nearly ½ m. N.E. of the church, consist of a series of scarps perhaps representing traces of a Celtic field-system.
d(21) Lynchets, ½ m. E. of the church, extend for 500 to 600 ft. on the N. slope of the hill. The terraces, where regular, are 9 to 10 yards in width with a fall of 5 to 10 ft.