Formicaant's notes prompted me to quote my fieldnotes of 6th May 2007 for this sadly neglected site... so here goes..
Finding no apparent access from the minor road crossing the shoulder of Castle Common - and more importantly, no place to park - I decide to leave the car at the hairpin bend at Mole's Chamber and approach from 'round the back'...
Take the higher of the two bridleways heading north before veering steeply uphill to my left. It soon becomes apparent that the landowner clearly does not want people to see this fort, despite it standing on public access land... hmm. However, keeping to the right of a barbed-wire fence, I ascend a gulley with not a little difficulty, eventually reaching the ramparts marooned within yet more barbed wire. How I hate this stuff! Persevere, however, since there is a gate giving access to the enclosure at the SW corner.
Although pretty eroded, the ramparts are still more than discernible and bivallate where not protected by steep slopes to the south and south-west. This has apparently led some to contend that the hillfort was never finished, although I must admit a ruthlessly practical husbandry of resources appears a more likely explanation to me. There even appears to be the remains of a round barrow in the NE corner?
Shoulsbury is not the most powerful hillfort you'll ever visit, but the majestic view southwards over Exmoor is a veritable glory indeed, a vista which, unfortunately, is not destined to last today since a violent storm front sweeps in to obliterate all and give me a fearful hammering. Consequently I decide to return to the car via the road to the south, descending out of mist to find the gate barbed-wired across. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to the mentality/morality of the landowner.....
So, Cow Castle may be Exmoor's hillfort jewel-in-the-crown, but Shoulsbury nevertheless possesses superb views, great atmosphere and some reasonable ramparts. Combine a visit with the nearby Setta Barrow and you're laughing... provided you aren't put off by a bit of wire.
I saw this site from the valley below while visiting the nearby Setta barrow and five barrow hill. From below it does not look very substantial, sadly I ran out of time so could not get up to it, good excuse for another trip to these parts.
This hillfort is on accessible land (under the CRoW act), and when it was surveyed it was found that there was "a previously unknown Neolithic stone setting approximately 300m north-west of the hillfort. The setting comprises two upright and four fallen stones set in a roughly rectangular pattern. These monuments are currently thought to be unique to Exmoor and are seen as part of the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age ceremonial landscape of the moor. "