Ancient Monuments

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Denbury camp

A Scheduled Monument in Denbury and Torbryan, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5045 / 50°30'16"N

Longitude: -3.6703 / 3°40'13"W

OS Eastings: 281646.126447

OS Northings: 68518.100016

OS Grid: SX816685

Mapcode National: GBR QM.NQQ9

Mapcode Global: FRA 376Q.MXK

Entry Name: Denbury camp

Scheduled Date: 26 August 1924

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1003857

English Heritage Legacy ID: DV 126

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Denbury and Torbryan

Built-Up Area: Denbury

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Denbury St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


Large univallate hillfort with defended outer enclosure and two bowl barrows known collectively as Denbury Camp.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 28 October 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a large univallate hillfort with defended outer enclosure and two bowl barrows known collectively as Denbury Camp, situated on a prominent steep sided hill called Denbury Down. The monument survives as an oval defended enclosure surrounding the top of the hill and includes two circular mounds. The hillfort consists of an inner and outer enclosure. The overall length is up to 280m long internally by 135m wide. The inner enclosure lies at the eastern side of the hillfort. It measures up to 170m long by 130m wide internally. To the north, the defence is formed by a rampart bank atop the steep natural scarp. On the remaining sides this rampart bank continues and is surrounded by a partially buried ditch with counterscarp bank. Lying to the west is a second enclosure. The second enclosure is defined by a single rampart to the north and utilises the topography for additional defence. To the west it has a partially buried ditch, whilst to the south the second rampart and ditch merge with the outer defences of the inner enclosure to produce a double ditch and rampart which continues around to the eastern side. The inner enclosure has an in-turned entrance on the western side and the outer enclosure has a similar entrance to the south west. Within the inner enclosure are two bowl barrows. Both barrows survive as circular mounds with buried outer construction ditches. The western barrow measures up to 27m in diameter and 2m high. It has a pit with a granite pillar set into it approximately 0.6m high and roughly square in section which may have been the base of a flagstaff or triangulation pillar. The eastern barrow measures up to 24m in diameter and 2m high. The name Denbury, either derives from ‘Defna’s burh’ or ‘Devenberie’ and means the ‘fort of the men of Devon’. It relates to the site where the Dunnonii held against the Saxon advance from the Teign Estuary. It is also associated with legend, stating ‘If Denbury was levelled fair, England could plough with a golden share’ and ‘when Exeter was a furzey down, Denbury was a borough town’. Both these indicate its strategic importance in the past.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of large proportions. They date to the Iron Age period most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on a large scale. Their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts were centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The bowl barrows are funerary monuments typical of the Bronze Age. Denbury is a very important defended site with a long history of strategic importance, which has even made its way into local legend. The presence of barrows also used as territorial markers indicate this to have been the case from the ancient past.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument Nos: 446227, 446232 and 891334

Source: Historic England

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