Ancient Monuments

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Beacon mound at Fire Beacon Hill, 250m north west of Bosomzeal

A Scheduled Monument in Dittisham, Devon

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Latitude: 50.3733 / 50°22'23"N

Longitude: -3.6015 / 3°36'5"W

OS Eastings: 286211.173

OS Northings: 53824.6548

OS Grid: SX862538

Mapcode National: GBR QR.HY3M

Mapcode Global: FRA 38B1.YJ2

Entry Name: Beacon mound at Fire Beacon Hill, 250m north west of Bosomzeal

Scheduled Date: 7 November 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019949

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33791

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dittisham

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Dittisham St George

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a beacon mound of 16th century date, on the crest of a
high spur, overlooking the estuary of the River Dart.
The mound is conical, measuring 15m diameter and 3m high with a flat top 1.5m
across. It lies on the east side of a deep lane, running north-south, whose
bank abuts the mound. A buried ditch approximately 3m wide will enclose the
mound. A modern beacon post has been sunk into the mound; fires are
occasionally lit in its iron basket to mark important events.
The modern road surfaces, where these impinge on the mound's 2m protective
margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by
day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always
sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which
together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the
Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was
formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time
of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was
in decay by the mid-17th century.
Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch
or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally
set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in
the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon. More unusual beacon
types include stone enclosures and towers, mainly found in the north and south
west of England. Some beacon sites utilised existing buildings such as church
Beacons were built throughout England, with the greatest density along the
south coast and the border with Scotland. Although approximately 500 are
recorded nationally, few survive in the form of visible remains. Many sites
are only known from place-name evidence. Given the rarity of recorded
examples, all positively identified beacons with significant surviving
archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.

The beacon mound at Fire Beacon Hill, 250m north west of Bosomzeal is
unusually well-preserved. The mound and its buried surrounding ditch will
contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its
construction and use in the contemporary landscape. The recent erection of a
cresset on the mound represents the continuity of use as a beacon site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Russell, P, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Fire beacons in Devon, , Vol. 87, (1955), 281
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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