Ancient Monuments

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Berry Cliff Camp

A Scheduled Monument in Branscombe, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6878 / 50°41'16"N

Longitude: -3.1505 / 3°9'1"W

OS Eastings: 318826.684586

OS Northings: 88201.130909

OS Grid: SY188882

Mapcode National: GBR PC.76X0

Mapcode Global: FRA 4798.6GB

Entry Name: Berry Cliff Camp

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017772

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29637

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Branscombe

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Branscombe St Winifred

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort known as Berry Cliff Camp.
The site is located on the cliff edge on Littlecombe Hill south west of
Branscombe village. It has a near rectangular area of almost 3ha defended on
the landward side by a single rampart fronted by a ditch with a counterscarp.
The flat interior of the hillfort is about 290m east-west by 100m north-south.
It was defended by an earthen rampart which incorporates flint nodules and
which survives in places on the northern and eastern side to a maximum height
of 1m with a maximum width of 4m. This rampart is fronted by a `U'-shaped
ditch 4.5m wide with a maximum depth of 1.1m. A counterscarp is visible beyond
the ditch on the northern section of the defensive circuit; it is 4m wide and
0.7m high although most of it is incorporated into a hedgebank. The main
rampart along the western and north western side has been cut back on its
inner face to form a hedgebank and the ditch on the western side is visible
but mostly infilled. A counterscarp beyond the ditch on the west has been
slighted and is now visible only over a short stretch of its former length
with a height of about 0.5m. Both rampart and ditch are visible along the
stretch of the eastern defences but the counterscarp here is absent or has
escaped detection. The curvature of the defensive circuit suggests that it may
have continued to enclose the monument on all sides but erosion of the cliff
face may have removed the line of defences on the southern seaward side.
Alternatively, the cliff face may have provided a natural defence in antiquity
making the construction of a southern section of the defences unnecessary. The
hillfort, which is of a class often provided with two entrances, has only one
confirmed entrance which has been surveyed and described in 1989 by the Royal
Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). It is of inturned
type on the north western angle of the circuit of defences. The eastern inturn
is seen as an elongated bank 14m long, 6m in width and 0.6m in height; the
corresponding inturn on the west, providing an entrance way of 2m-3m in width,
is not so well defined but is nevertheless visible. Some redundant
post-medieval hedgebanks survive as low linear earthworks in the interior of
the hillfort just behind, and parallel with, the northern defences. Outworks
to the east of the monument were originally thought to represent contemporary
enclosures associated with the hillfort but these have been shown during
archaeological investigation by the RCHME to be post-medieval field
boundaries. These features are no longer considered to be part of the
monument and are not included in the scheduling.
All fencing and fence posts, stiles, gates and gate posts, are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to
their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large
storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and
square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often
represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight
univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally.
Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of
the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is
relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the
Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within
the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh
Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Berry Cliff Camp displays many of the features of a slight univallate
hillfort. The monument will contain archaeological information relating to the
construction and use of the site, the lives of its inhabitants, and the
landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Griffith, F, Devon's Past: An Aerial View, (1988), 70
Hutchinson, P O, 'Journal of the British Archaeological Association' in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, , Vol. 18, (1862), 54
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, , Vol. I, (1906), 575
UID 762179, RCHME Survey, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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