Ancient Monuments

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Hilltop enclosures in North Wood, 780m NNW of Old Parsonage Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Dartington, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4585 / 50°27'30"N

Longitude: -3.7101 / 3°42'36"W

OS Eastings: 278705.52059

OS Northings: 63470.341094

OS Grid: SX787634

Mapcode National: GBR QL.KDKF

Mapcode Global: FRA 373V.BD2

Entry Name: Hilltop enclosures in North Wood, 780m NNW of Old Parsonage Farm

Scheduled Date: 20 October 1977

Last Amended: 6 March 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020381

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33787

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartington

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Dartington St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes three Iron Age hilltop enclosures, two at least of
which were reused in the Romano-British period, located on the northern edge
of a level hilltop, originally overlooking a wide bend in the River Dart. The
site has been wooded since at least 1325.
The Iron Age enclosure is defined by a rampart, outer ditch and upcast bank.
It is aligned from north east to south west with an interior 80m long and 55m
wide, tapering towards the east end. The rampart is from 5m to 10m wide and
up to 1m high, but does not survive on the north side. The encircling ditch
is from 5m to 7m wide and 1.4m deep with an upcast bank on its north and west
sides, measuring 5m wide and up to 0.7m high. At the east end the ditch and
rampart are broken by an original entrance. A second smaller entrance to the
south east with a causeway across the ditch is modern. A roughly ovoid
platform within the enclosure towards its north side measures 13m long, 10m
wide and up to 1.4m high.
Lying 17m to the south is a pair of adjoining ovoid enclosures, aligned north
east to south west. A long rampart with traces of an outer ditch continues to
the west, returning for a short distance to the north, with an entrance near
its end. The western enclosure is trapezoidal in shape, with a rounded south
side. Its interior measures 61m long and 44m wide, with a rampart from 4.5m
to 9m wide and up to 1m high on its south and east sides. The outer ditch is a
similar width and depth with a counterscarp bank 5m wide and up to 0.4m high
on the north and west sides. An entrance 5m wide lies in the centre of the
southern rampart. Excavations in 1966 on the east side produced hobnails and
coarse pottery of the second to third century AD. The sites of these
excavations are still visible as slight earthworks.
The western enclosure has been partly constructed over the west rampart of the
adjoining enclosure, which is therefore earlier. It is of ovoid shape, with
an interior measuring 51m long and 40m wide. Its ramparts, outer ditches and
upcast bank are of similar dimensions to the western enclosure, with the best
surviving ramparts on the south. No entrance is visible.
A bank projects from the south eastern corner of this enclosure and continues
78m to the north east, before turning to the north for a further 75m. It
survives mainly as a scarp, measuring from 2m to 9m wide and up to 1.5m high,
but near its north end, an entrance 8m wide has short sections of inner bank
6m wide and up to 1m high. An outer ditch survives on the east side, 7.5m
wide and up to 1.3m deep. Traces of an upcast bank 4.5m wide and 0.4m high
survive along the south side.
The track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them 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

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 slight damage to their earthworks, the hilltop enclosures in North
Wood, 780m NNW of Old Parsonage Farm are well-preserved. Their ramparts,
surrounding ditches and interiors contain archaeological and environmental
information relating to the enclosures and the landscape in which they were
built. The excavated evidence for a Romano-British date from the south western
enclosure is of particular importance in an area where few hilltop enclosures
have been dated.

Source: Historic England


RCHME fieldwork, Sainsbury, I, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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