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Myrtleberry North Camp, a late prehistoric multiple enclosure fort 200m north west of Waters Meet House

A Scheduled Monument in Brendon and Countisbury, Devon

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Latitude: 51.2241 / 51°13'26"N

Longitude: -3.8016 / 3°48'5"W

OS Eastings: 274287.44391

OS Northings: 148759.098899

OS Grid: SS742487

Mapcode National: GBR L2.34QR

Mapcode Global: VH5JS.2H2F

Entry Name: Myrtleberry North Camp, a late prehistoric multiple enclosure fort 200m north west of Waters Meet House

Scheduled Date: 10 November 1969

Last Amended: 16 October 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020805

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33054

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Brendon and Countisbury

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Lynton St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a late prehistoric multiple enclosure fort known as
Myrtleberry North Camp. Multiple enclosure forts were first classified by
Lady Aileen Fox and the example at Myrtleberry North is of the cross bank
type which are typically located on spurs or promontories. This monument
comprises an inner enclosure defined partly by a bank and ditch and partly
by scarping, and an outer, larger enclosure defined by the natural breaks
of slope coupled with a bank and ditch which cuts across the neck of the
spur upon which the site is located. Both of the enclosures are considered
to be Iron Age in date and they are thought to be contemporary.

The inner enclosure occupies the north end of a north east facing spur
which overlooks a steep-sided loop of the East Lyn River, whilst the outer
enclosure occupies the remainder of the relatively flat spur before it
rises sharply to the south west. The enclosures thus have steep natural
slopes on all sides except on the south west approaches where they are
overlooked by rising ground; it is on this side that the cross bank is
located, some 150m forward of the inner enclosure. The defences of the
broadly contemporary promontory fort of Countisbury Castle are clearly
visible above the valley slopes on the other side of the East Lyn River.
The roughly oval inner enclosure occupies the terminal end of the natural
spur and it measures about 74m by 40m giving an internal area of nearly
0.3ha. The artificial boundary of the enclosure is most clearly defined
on its western side by a rampart which has a maximum width of 4.2m and
which is 2m high in places above the bottom of its associated ditch. The
ditch is 4.8m wide at its widest point with an outer scarp about 1m high;
there are slight traces of a counterscarp bank. The remainder of the
circuit appears to have been created by the scarping of the natural valley
slopes. The original entrance is on the north west side where there is a
3m wide gap in the rampart with a slight causeway over the ditch; other
entrances are considered to be modern. The interior of the enclosure
appears to be sub-divided by a 2m high scarp which creates a platform
about 30m by 25m at its southern end. The inner enclosure of a multiple
enclosure fort is usually considered to have been the focus of settlement
and that is likely to have been the case here.
The outer enclosure is defined almost entirely by natural slopes, which
are likely to have been artificially steepened by scarping, except at the
south west where a bank and ditch traverse the spur for a distance of
about 82m leaving a gap at the western end which is thought to be the
original entrance; a more central gap in the earthwork is considered to
be modern. The bank has maximum dimensions of 1.2m in height by 5.5m in
width. It is fronted by a ditch some 10.5m wide and 1.4m deep although
natural infilling of the ditch over the course of two millennia will have
concealed its true depth. The relatively flat area of ground providing the
outer enclosure is about 150m by 50m, or 0.75ha. Such outer enclosures are
usually considered to have been used for the coralling of stock.
It seems likely that access to the enclosures was along a hollow way which
approaches from the south and enters the outer enclosure through a gap at
the western end of the cross bank. The hollow way continues parallel with
the spur directly to the entrance of the inner enclosure; it varies in
width between 2m and 4m on average.
There are a number of trial prospecting pits (known as costeans) for iron
ore located around the site; these are thought to be 19th century in date.
Several are recorded in or around the inner enclosure with at least one
dug several metres into the bottom of the ditch on its south west side.
The spoil from this delving has completely infilled a section of the
ditch. Further workings are recorded down the slope to the north west of
the entrance to the inner enclosure and forward of the outer enclosure
although these lie outside the scheduling.
All fixed notice boards 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

Multiple enclosure forts comprise an inner and one or more outer enclosed
areas, together measuring up to c.10ha, and defined by sub-circular or sub-
rectangular earthworks spaced at intervals which exceed 15m; the inner
enclosure is usually entirely surrounded by a bank and ditch. The forts date
mainly to the Late Iron Age (350 BC-c.AD 50) and in England usually occur in
the south west. Most are sited on hillslopes overlooked by higher ground near
a water supply, and many were apparently used for periods of up to 250 years.
The outer enclosures of the forts are usually interpreted as areas set aside
for the containment of livestock, whilst the inner enclosures are generally
thought to have been the focus of occupation.
The earthworks usually include a bank with an outer V-shaped ditch 1m-3m deep.
Entrances are generally single gaps through each line of defence, often
aligned to create a passage from the outer to the inner enclosure, although
there are a few examples where entrances through successive earthworks are not
in alignment. Occasionally the interval between the gaps is marked by inturned
ramparts or low banks and ditches, while the outer entrance may be screened by
a short length of earthwork. Excavations within the inner enclosures have
revealed a range of buildings and structures, including circular structures,
hearths, ovens and cobbled surfaces as well as occasional small pits and large
depressions which may have functioned as watering holes.
Multiple enclosure forts are relatively rare with only around 75 examples
recorded in England, mostly in Devon and Cornwall. Outside these counties
their distribution becomes increasingly scattered and the form and
construction methods more varied. They are important for the study of
settlement and stock management in the later prehistoric period, and most
well-preserved examples will be identified as being of national importance.

Despite some disturbance caused by the digging of iron mining prospecting
pits, Myrtleberry North Camp survives well as a rare example of the cross
bank type, with both of its enclosures clearly defined by a combination of
earthworks and scarping of the natural slopes. It is part of a group of
diverse and broadly contemporary monuments in the immediate area which
give an indication of the nature of settlement during the later
prehistoric period. The monument will retain archaeological evidence, both
within the interior of the enclosures and within the ramparts and buried
ditch deposits, which will be informative about the monument, the
landscape in which it was constructed and the lives of the inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), 65
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), Fig3.19
Fox, A, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Hillslope Forts and Related Earthworks in SW England and S Wales, , Vol. 30, (1952), 152-55

Source: Historic England

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