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Prestonbury Castle

Hob Uid: 445780
Location :
Devon
West Devon
Drewsteignton
Grid Ref : SX7471090010
Summary : Iron Age hillfort, inner works complete, but possibly outer works never finished. Prestonbury Castle is situated three miles north-west of Moretonhampstead high above the north bank of the R Teign. The bank of the inner enclosure measures 418 feet by 410 feet and is 7 1/2 feet high with entrances to the east and west. The middle enclosure bank has a simple entrance on its east side. The outer bank, only partially extant, is strengthened by a rock-cut ditch 20 feet broad. This bank divides into two at the crest of the southern slope. The bank has an inturned entrance facing northeast.
More information : (SX 74669001) Prestonbury Castle (NR). (1)

Prestonbury Castle is situated three miles north-west of
Moretonhampstead high above the north bank of the R Teign. The
bank of the inner enclosure measures 418 feet by 410 feet and
is 7 1/2 feet high with entrances to the east and west. The
middle enclosure bank has a simple entrance on its east side.
The outer bank, only partially extant, is strengthened by a
rock-cut ditch 20 feet broad. This bank divides into two at the
crest of the southern slope. The bank has an inturned entrance
facing northeast. (2)

Prestonbury consists of three enclosures with possible club
ended ramparts. The inner enclosure on a hilltop covers 1.4ha.,
To the east and north-east this is flanked by a lunate annexe
taking in a further 8.0ha. Both enclosures have simple entrance
gaps. The outermost is a single curving crossbank with an
inturned entrance holding a further 4.8ha. (3)

Prestonbury Castle is situated at 240m. O.D. in an end of ridge
position whereby the precipitous slops of the Teign gorge form
a natural defence to the south and west.

The earthworks together enclose an area of 6.4ha., all
permanent pasture, sloping gradually to the north and east as a
series of wide-spread terraces.

The primary enclosure of 1.7ha., encompasses the hilltop in
oval form. It has a token bank following the lip off the gorge
and elesewhere the defence consists of a slight bank averaging
1.0m. high, derived from scrape-up of the interior, augmented
externally by scarping the hillside to form a steep slope 2.0m.
to 3.0m. high. There is no outer ditch. The only entrance,
simple, and with slightly clubbed ends, is on the east side.

The eastern half of the primary enclosure is enveloped by an
outwork of approximately 1.0ha. in extent. From a similar
entrance on the east, flanked by vestigial ditches, and with an
interspace of 60m. the rampart sweeps back to join the inner
one on the south side where both coincide with the lip of the
valley. On the north side however it ceases at a point where a
terrace way has been constructed between the rampart and a
natural scarp, which it is evident has been utilized and
adapted as a basis for the rampart. The natural feature
continues westward as a broadening slope 25m to 30m. wide and
3.0m. high until it reaches the edge of the gorge. As on the
south it seems the rampart was intended to meet the inner
enclosure where 60m. of a probable feeble "setting-out"
platform exists at the base of the scarp. An isolated pit and
pile of upcast also acknowledges the intention.

The third rampart is spaced at a distance of 80m. to 150m. from
the intermediate one and encloses 3.7ha. The northern part also
utilizes a natural scarp which extends westwards for a further
150m. before merging into the hillside.

Apart from scarping, traces of a shallow intermittent ditch,
and a minimal bank there is no evidence of any continuous or
real attempt at fortification. On the north-east and east, the
most vulnerable, much of the earthwork has been degraded by
quarrying and former agricultural activity but southwards from
the well formed causewayed and inturned entrance the rampart is
of impressive proportions, up to 2.0m. high internally and
3.5m. high externally. Again a natural scarp may have been used
since the ditch, partly rock cut, is never more than 1.0m. deep
and often much less. From the southeast corner the outer work
extends onto the relatively steep slope of the valley as a
terrace and outer scarp ceasing where the slope becomes
precipitous. No branching, as portrayed in the V.C.H. and
Wilkinson's plans, can be seen, and any continuation would seem
superfluous.

The inner circuit of Prestonbury presents a reasonably finished
appearance, but the same cannot be said for the outworks. It is
uncertain whether the incompletion is related to single or
multiple phase construction, but there is no doubt that
interruption is a consistent feature within all the five forts
along the higher reaches of the rivers Teign and Bovey.
Cranbrook has close space ramparts (SX 7389): the others,
Wooston (SX 7689), Hunter's Tor (SX 7682) and Natterdon
(SX 7086), like Prestonbury, fall into the category of wide
spaced multiple rampart forts, epitomised by that at Milber
Down.

Surveyed at 1:2500 on M.S.D., and at 1:1250 with profiles. (4)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1975
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : VCH Devon 1/1906 595 plan
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Hillforts of IA 1976 188 221 225 (J Forde-Johnston)
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 NVQ 04-MAY-82
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Source Number :
Source : Prestonbury Castle/Antiquity Model
Source details :
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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 : Multivallate Hillfort
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 79 SW 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 79 SW 5
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1982-05-04
End Date : 1982-05-04