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Dumpdon Camp

A Scheduled Monument in Luppitt, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8299 / 50°49'47"N

Longitude: -3.1712 / 3°10'16"W

OS Eastings: 317613.545404

OS Northings: 104027.244895

OS Grid: ST176040

Mapcode National: GBR LY.X2FB

Mapcode Global: FRA 467X.4C8

Entry Name: Dumpdon Camp

Scheduled Date: 26 June 1924

Last Amended: 16 November 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018851

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29661

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Luppitt

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Luppitt St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes Dumpdon Camp, a prehistoric hillfort located on a
detached hill, 260m high, at the southern end of a steep-sided ridge of Upper
Greensand between the River Otter and the Luppitt Brook. The flat topped and
triangular shaped hillfort of 2.6ha was defended by two substantial ramparts
and ditches on the northern side, controlling the only easy line of approach,
and by single ramparts on the east and west sides. A single inturned entrance
on the north east side provided the only known point of entry.
The layout of the defences largely reflects the configuration of the hilltop
which is flattest and widest towards its northern end, narrowing down to a
steep sided point at its southern end. The northern approach required the
strongest artificial protection and here the defences were bivallate with a
berm 30m wide separating two ramparts and their accompanying ditches. The
inner rampart is on average 1.3m in height on the interior with an average
width of 4.5m. It has a depth on the outer slope of 8.3m and is fronted by a
ditch which is mostly filled and waterlogged but which has an average width of
4.7m. The outer rampart is on average 1.2m in height and 3.1m in width. It is
fronted by a well defined ditch which has an average width of 3.5m and in
places is up to 1.35m deep. The remaining two sides of the monument were
defended along part of their length by a single rampart and a single ditch of
much smaller dimensions than those on the northern side and with a small
counterscarp bank on the outer side of the ditch. Controlled excavations have
demonstrated that the base of the eastern rampart was constructed of sizeable
chert blocks forming a wall 2.15m wide and 0.4m high; it was noted in the same
excavation report that the unexcavated western rampart becomes less distinct
and breaks up into a series of small dumps. It has been suggested by the
excavator, Professor Todd, that the defences were never completed and that
only the rampart base was constructed along part of the western and eastern
sides before work ceased. The fading out of the defensive ditch at about the
same place as the rampart base on both sides of the monument would support
this view. The hillfort was however provided with a single 20m long inturned
entrance close to the north east angle; this comprised a 7m wide causeway
flanked by low banks between the ditch ends. The thickened end of the southern
rampart may have been intended as a fighting platform covering the approach in
front of the gate. A gap in the northern defences is considered to be modern.
The interior of the hillfort is featureless and limited excavations in the
interior have revealed no signs of occupation. The suggestion is that Dumpdon
hillfort was neither finished nor fully occupied.

All fencing, fence posts, gates, gate posts, the concrete trigonometry point,
and the Rotary Club commemorative plaque are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

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

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are
defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set
earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the
interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or
more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been
constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first
century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements
of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest
that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with
display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a
rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks
and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by
one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or
inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists
of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures
interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety
of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of
small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a
similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples
recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west
with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the
rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of
national importance.

Dumpdon Camp is unusual in having provided archaeological evidence for the
constructional processes undertaken in the provision of a defensive circuit
for an Iron Age hillfort. It will retain further evidence of its method of
construction and the infilled and waterlogged ditches at the northern end of
the monument are likely to preserve archaeological information relating to the
period and the landscape in which the monument was constructed. Although their
contemporaneity is uncertain, the Dumpdon hillfort should be viewed in
relation to, and in comparison with, the hillfort at Hembury which lies only
6km to its south west and where Iron Age occupation is attested.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fox, A, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, (1996), 32-33
Hutchinson, P O, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Hill Fortresses, Slingstones And Other Antiquities in SE Devon, , Vol. 2 part 2, (1868), 372-73
Todd, M, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in The Hillfort of Dumpdon, , Vol. 50, (1992), 47-52
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, , Vol. I, (1906), 582-83

Source: Historic England

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