Ancient Monuments

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Enclosure in Parsonage Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Lydford, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6332 / 50°37'59"N

Longitude: -4.1207 / 4°7'14"W

OS Eastings: 250119.999978

OS Northings: 83650.000238

OS Grid: SX501836

Mapcode National: GBR NX.9HDF

Mapcode Global: FRA 278D.DGT

Entry Name: Enclosure in Parsonage Wood

Scheduled Date: 13 April 1977

Last Amended: 15 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020341

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30348

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Lydford

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Lydford St Petroc

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes an enclosure, interpreted as a later prehistoric
hilltop enclosure, situated on a steep inland promontory overlooking the
valley of the River Lyd.
The monument survives as an oval enclosure which measures internally 38.3m
long from south west to north east by 33.4m wide from north west to south
east. It is defined to the north and west by a bank which measures up to 6.4m
wide and 0.7m high and an outer ditch which measures 5.2m wide and 0.4m deep.
The whole enclosure slopes to the south and to the south and west is defined
by the natural steeply sloping valley sides. There is no trace of an entrance.

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

Hilltop enclosures are defined as sub-rectangular or elongated areas of
ground, usually between 10ha and 40ha in size, situated on hilltops or
plateaux and surrounded by slight univallate earthworks. They date to between
the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth-fifth centuries BC) and are usually
interpreted as stock enclosures or sites where agricultural produce was
stored. Many examples of hilltop enclosures may have developed into more
strongly defended sites later in the Iron Age period and are therefore often
difficult to recognise in their original form. The earthworks generally
consist of a bank separated from an external ditch by a level berm. Access to
the interior was generally provided by two or three entrances which consisted
of simple gaps in the rampart. Evidence for internal features is largely
dependent on excavation, and to date this has included large areas of sparsely
scattered features including post and stakeholes, hearths and pits.
Rectangular or square buildings are also evident; these are generally defined
by between four and six postholes and are thought to have supported raised
granaries. Hilltop enclosures are rare, with between 25 and 30 examples
recorded nationally. A greater number may exist but these could have been
developed into hillforts later in the Iron Age and could only be confirmed by
detailed survey or excavation. The majority of known examples are located in
two regions, on the chalk downland of Wessex and Sussex and in the Cotswolds.
More scattered examples are found in north-east Oxfordshire and north
Northamptonshire. This class of monument has not been recorded outside
England. In view of the rarity of hilltop enclosures and their importance in
understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all
examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of
national importance.

Despite afforestation, the hilltop enclosure in Parsonage Wood survives
comparatively well and will provide information concerning the character of
later prehistoric agricultural economy on the fringes of Dartmoor. This
enclosure is one of a group of three later prehistoric enclosures lying within
the Lyd valley.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Silvester, R J, Balkwill, C J, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Hill-Slope Enclosures In The Lyd Valley, West Devon, , Vol. 35, (1977), 81-4

Source: Historic England

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