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Cranbrook Castle

Hob Uid: 445462
Location :
Grid Ref : SX7386089010
Summary : Earthwork remains of an unfinished Iron Age multivallate hillfort.
More information : (SX 73858900) Cranbrook Castle (NAT) Hill Fort (NR). (1)

Cranbrook Castle, lies on a hill 1100 feet above sea level and
overlooks the Teign Gorge, to the north. It can be interpreted
as a two phase structure.

1. An outer univallate enclosure of 7.5 hectares, with slight
defences, consisting of a bank still up to 1.0 metre high with
an external ditch, and two, possibly three, weakly defended
entrances. The deep hollow way leading to the south-eastern
entrance implies that this phase was of long duration and
presumably to be dated by the Bronze Age decorated
'Glastonbury' pottery found in 1900 in hut circle no 2(SX73948897).

2. A univallate hill fort, of Iron Age 'B' period, with massive
ramparts, over 2.0 metres high in places, with external stone
revetment, enclosing an area of 5.25 hectares.

The new defences were so sited in relationship to the earlier
phase that the gateways remained in use, and a partially
bivallate rampart was formed, widely spaced on the eastern side
and closely spaced on the west and south.

Six possible cairns were located in the interior, but as the
1900 survey found, the interior of the fort is studded with
these mounds which also extend over the north slope of the
hill. All are about 2 to 3 metres in diameter and 1/2 metre
high. In 1900 four hut circles were located by excavation
within the inner rampart south of the east entrance, finds
included pottery, charcoal and sling-stones. (2-5)

R.J. Silvester has suggested that the fort is of one period
only, bivallate and unfinished. The key problem is the outer
bank on the northern side; it is of an earlier period or
marking out bank ? On the east side Silvester sees it running
to the base of the bank whereas Collis considers it cut by the
unfinished ditch. The west side is less clear and it is
impossible to say whether the end of the inner rampart is
unfinished or robbed. Silvester also notes that on the south
side the outer bank is substantial but Collis suggests it was
rebuilt. (6)

The construction phases of Cranbrook Castle are obscure and
somewhat erratic. The northern side consists of a vestigial
bank to which an external platform of gathered stones has been
added; overall it averages 8m. wide and 0.3m high. This
evidently represents the setting out line and base for the
inner rampart which elsewhere has been augmented by material
from a deep outer ditch, with an intermediate berm. Dump
construction is clear and on the south some excavation of the
spillage has exposed revetment walling in the outer face of the

Beyond the ditch there is, for the most part, a further berm,
from which rises a weak outer rampart accompanied by a shallow
ditch. This defence fades at the south east angle, where there
is a slight gap before a setting-out scarp indicates the
projected alignment, ceasing when level with the eastern
entrance. A similar but more pronounced scarp extends along the
west side of the fort from the southwest angle, leaving a wide
interspace. The air photograph of 1947 shows an over-lapping
entrance gap, 50m. north of the inner west entrance but this cannot
now be properly determined because of agricultural depredations. A
final 50m.length of packed stones, paralleling a modern wall,
terminates abruptly with the more complete inner rampart.

There is distinct evidence that the west entrance was to be
inturned; the same might have been intended for the east
entrance but here there has been much excavation disturbance.

No huts are visible within the hillfort and the dense growth of
bracken and gorse precludes identification of most of the
cairns, a score of which can be seen on the air photo. (a). The
few found by chance average 3m. in diameter and 0.3m. high.
They are almost certainly clearance heaps. What is not clear is
whether they were to be used as constructional material for the
defences or whether they are the result of later agricultural
activity (see SX 78 NW 39).

However, both the plan of Cranbrook Castle and ground
observation indicate that it is an unfinished multivallate
hillfort, and not a work of two phases in the sense of widely
separated periods.

Surveyed at 1:2500 on M.S.D. See plan at 1:1250 for profiles
and linear profile X-Y, and ground photographs. (7)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1963
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Source Number : 2
Source details : Proc Devon Arch Soc 30 1972 216-21 (J Collis)
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Source Number : 3
Source details : T Devon Ass 33 1901 129-35 (S Baring Gould)
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Source Number : 4
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Corr 6" (Lady A Fox June 1950)
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Source Number : 5
Source details : VCH Devon 1 1906 365-6
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Source Number : 6
Source details : Proc Devon Arch Soc 37 1979 193-4 "Cranbrook Castle Revisited" (J Collis)
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Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 23-NOV-81
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Source Number : 7a
Source details : APs (RAF CPE/UK/2082/4394-5 19.5.1947
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Source : Cranbrook Castle/Antiquity Model
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Hillfort
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 1
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DV 143
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 78 NW 6
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, CRANBROOK CASTLE HILLFORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1900-01-01
End Date : 1900-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 78 NW 6
Start Date : 1981-11-23
End Date : 1981-11-23