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Hawkesdown Camp and associated outwork

A Scheduled Monument in Axmouth, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7177 / 50°43'3"N

Longitude: -3.0453 / 3°2'43"W

OS Eastings: 326302.03402

OS Northings: 91416.936588

OS Grid: SY263914

Mapcode National: GBR PF.HCBL

Mapcode Global: FRA 47H5.Z9H

Entry Name: Hawkesdown Camp and associated outwork

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017775

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29640

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Axmouth

Built-Up Area: Axmouth

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Axmouth St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument, which falls into two areas, is known as Hawkesdown Camp.
It includes a prehistoric large univallate hillfort with a defended area of
about 2.5ha fronted to the east by an outwork. The site is in a commanding
position at the western end of a long spur which overlooks the upper estuary
of the River Axe on its eastern bank and it has steep natural defences on all
sides but the east. The roughly rectangular interior of the hillfort is about
250m in length east-west with a width of about 100m. The natural defensive
qualities of the site are complemented by a rampart, which survives 4m high in
places, surrounded by a `U'-shaped ditch over 2m deep with a counterscarp bank
on the outer lip of the ditch. The counterscarp is in evidence over much of
the circuit except on the north west where the steep slope appears to have
precluded the need for any additional defences, and on the east where there is
an outwork. The dimensions of the rampart and ditch are somewhat greater on
the naturally less well defended eastern side where the ditch is in places 6m
deep. The main entrance was at the south east angle facing the only level
approach from the east. Here the ditches terminate and the end of the eastern
rampart is expanded. An outwork which perhaps defended an outer enclosure,
lies 100m beyond the eastern defensive circuit and survives as a bank 17.8m
wide and 0.4m high.
The discovery of Roman lead sling bullets (glandis) in the area of the eastern
defences between the outer ditch and the outwork suggests the possibility of
an attack during the Roman invasion period or the later use of the abandoned
site as target practice for Roman artillery units.
All fencing and fence posts, gates and gate posts, and telegraph poles are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. 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 entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. 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. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

Hawkesdown Camp is a large univallate hillfort which is located at the very
western limit of this class of monument. It bears evidence of Roman attention,
hostile or otherwise, and it 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
Davidson, J, Antiquities of Devonshire, (1861), 15
Fox, A, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, (1996), 35
Holbrook, N, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in Roman Lead Sling-shot from near Hawkesdown Hill Hillfort, (1989), 117-8
Holbrook, N, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in Roman Lead Sling-shot from near Hawkesdown Hill Hillfort, (1989), 117-18
Hutchinson, P O, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Hillfortresses of Devon, , Vol. 2, (1868), 378-9
Hutchinson, P O, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Hillfortresses in South East Devon, , Vol. 2, (1868), 378-9
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, , Vol. I, (1906), 580-81
Title: Ordnance Survey
Source Date: 1963

Source: Historic England

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