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HER Number:MDV10899
Name:Berry Cliff Camp, Branscombe


Berry Camp is a univallate hillfort situated on the clifftop on the East Devon coast between High Peak and Beer Head. It is a large defensible hilltop enclosure, part of which has been lost through cliff erosion. The hillfort ramparts are partly visible on aerial photographs taken from the 1940s onwards and images derived from Lidar data but much of the monument is obscured by hedgerow vegetation.


Grid Reference:SY 188 882
Map Sheet:SY18NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBranscombe
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBRANSCOMBE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 448903
  • National Trust SMR: 100045
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY18NE/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 90
  • Old SAM Ref: 29637

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HILLFORT (Iron Age - 700 BC to 42 AD (Between))

Full description

LOCATION UNCLEAR, Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV134062.

Vis=15/9/1871 (hutchinson) double bank running from cliff just east of camp, to "three great stores". Length of bank approx 10 metres. Ref to 4 "excavation pits" in bank (location unclear) (diaries).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134066.

Three sides visible today. Unclear whether a 4th side existed, now lost to coastal erosion, but inward trends of e + w defences before reaching cliff edge might suggest that there was a s side. Defences consist of main rampart with outer ditch, plus traces of a counterscarp beyond. This is seen best on n side; triangular in section 4m wide at base, 1.1m high above ditch base, 0.65m high externally. Along remainder of n side it is probably incorporated in present hedgebank. Further traces exist on w side as slight, ploughed-down slope 1.5m long, 0.5m high. Hutchinson's plan suggests that it may have been a substantial feature in this locality. Main rampart rises 1.4m to 2m above ditch bottom, but is spread by ploughing internally to a max height of 1m. Inner face cut back along nw + part of sw sides to form hedgebank. Ditch, generally silted, averages 4.5m wide and 0.5m to 1.15m deep. On e + w it is clearly a dug feature, but on n is partially a product of differential between rampart + counterscarp. Rampart is of piled soil and flint derived from ditch and, possibly, shallow quarrying of surface material. Several breaks exist, none contemporary with the fortification; most caused by agricultural access and footpaths. A true entrance almost certainly exists at nw corner. Although incomplete and damaged by modern access, enough survives to suggest an internal entrance from the main rampart c 17m long, narrowing towards interior. Interior has previously been ploughed. A u-shaped depression is possibly the site of a postmedieval garden recorded by hutchinson. A prominent earthwork attached to the inturn is a defunct hedgebank which was functional in 1840. Outworks described by hutchinson to e + w are in fact disused hedgebanks.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134068.

Page, w. /victoria county history of devon/(1906)575 and plan.

Untitled Source (Aerial Photograph). SDV134069.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134070.

Worth, r. N. /tda/12(1880)145/second report of the barrow committee.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134071.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134072.

Hutchinson, p. O/jbaa/18(1862) and plan on parish file.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134073.

Timms,s/13/12/1979/as above and photos in conservation section collection film 505/9-10,12-16(prints in parish file).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134074.

Des=doe/devon sam printout/(-/7/1982)no 5745(in smr).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134075.

Des=timms, s. /as above and sketch map and photos in parish file.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134076.

Des=robinson, r. /list of fmw visits/(19/1/1983)in smr.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134077.

Des=hutchinson, p. O. /ms diaries(7/5/1858 + plan;15/9/1871;23/9/1873 + plan).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134078.

Griffith, f. /devon's past:an aerial view/(1988)70.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134079.

Des=ntas/branscombe and salcombe regis, devon/(1984)13/in smr.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134080.

Des=worksheet (robinson, 28/11/83)/in parish file.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134081.

Des=rchme plan (18/4/1989)/copy in parish file.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134082.

Doe/smc letter/(27/11/1985) in smr.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134083.

Hutchinson, p. O. /a history of sidmouth/1(1909)58.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134084.

Milles, j. /parochial collections 40 branscombe/(c 1747-62).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV134085.

Des=rchm/survey of berry cliff camp/(1989)/in pf.

Untitled Source (Aerial Photograph). SDV134087.

Aph=dap/de 10-15/(19/12/1986).

Untitled Source (Aerial Photograph). SDV134088.

Aph=dap/tx 1-3(22/1/1991).

PAGE, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV18473.

Camp lies on cliff edge to west of mounds formed by lime-burners defences strongest on west, where a double vallum rises 5.8m from the fosse. An agger extends 106m westward from the entrance in the west vallum. Two gaps in the north-west rampart were probably made when the bank, which runs across the interior, was thrown up about 20 years ago. From the main entrance in the north-east corner, an outer rampart runs easterly towards the cliff. To the north of the main entrance where the ground slopes rapidly towards the stream, fragments of outworks survive. These outworks consist of two rectangular ramparts and a small entrenchment over 61m long with agger 1.6m high and internal ditch 0.3m deep (page).

Timms, S. C., Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV2.

Vis=13/12/1979 (timms) the site is under grass. There has been recent dumping of hardcore to w of hillfort (timms).

Department of Environment, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV326812.

Smc granted for erection of fence, stiles and steps (doe).

Weston, S., Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV38857.

Vis=-/-/1979 (weston) doe fmw visit (doe).

Griffith, F. M., Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV677.

Vis=26/7/1983 (griffith) state unchanged since thackray and timms.

RCHM, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV7666.

Vis=7/4/1989 (rchm) internal area 3ha. Under permanent pasture, but gorse, bramble + scrub obscure defences, notably along w side, where ditch is choked. Dumping has all but infilled nw ditch, and is current along n side.

Griffith, F. M., Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV8774.

Berry camp is situated on the clifftop on the east devon coast between high peak and beer head. It is a large defensible hilltop enclosure, part of which has been lost through cliff erosion. Although it has never been tested by excavation, the site is believed to date from the earlier first millennium b. C (griffith).

HUTCHINSON, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV96023.

Berry cliff camp, branscombe. Camp on littlecombe hill, branscombe, locally known as langham field. Rectangular with cliff-edge forming fourth long side. In best condition at north-west end, where nearly 6m separates the bottom of the ditch from the top of the rampart. On evidence of shape and discovery of roman remains in neighbourhood, author suggests roman origin of camp. Three stones are depicted as situated approximately 50-60m outside north-west end of camp (hutchinson).

Ministry of Works, 1924, Berry Cliff Camp (Schedule Document). SDV338326.

Visited 1923. On the edge of the cliff about 800m southwest of Branscombe church. A rectangular camp with vallum and fosse enclosing an area about 110m from north to south, and 285m from east to west. Obscured by modern works, but substantially as described by W. Page.

Royal Air Force, 1945, RAF/106G/UK/508, RAF/106G/UK/508 4131-4132 13-JUL-1945 (Aerial Photograph). SDV355833.

The hillfort ditch and ramparts are partially visible as earthworks. Map object partly based on this source.

Devon County Council, 1996, DAP/ZE, 1, 2 (Aerial Photograph). SDV338329.

Salvatore, J. P., 1997, Berry Cliff Camp, 144388 (Un-published). SDV338331.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1998, Berry Cliff Camp (Schedule Document). SDV338325.

A slight univallate hillfort known as Berry Cliff Camp. The site is on the cliff edge on Littlecombe Hill, SW of Branscombe village. It has a near rectangular area of almost 3ha defended on thelandward side by a single rampart fronted by a ditch with a counterscarp. The flat interior of the hillfort is about 290m E-W by 100m N-S. It was defended by an earthen rampart which incorporates flint nodules and which survives in places on the N and E side to a maximum height of 1m with a maximum width of 4m. This rampart is fronted by a 'U'-shaped ditch 4.5m wide with a maximum depth of 1.1m. A counterscarp is visible beyond the ditch on the N section of the defensive circuit; it is 4m wide and 0.7m high although most of it is incorporated into a hedgebank. The main rampart along the W and NW side has been cut back on its inner face to form a hedgebank and the ditch on the W side is visible but mostly infilled. A counterscarp beyond the ditch on the W has been slighted and is now visible only over a short stretch of its former length with a height of about 0.5m. Both rampart and ditch are visible along the stretch of the E defences but the counterscarp here is absent or has escaped detection. The curvature of the defensive circuit suggests that it may have containued to enclose the monument on all sides but the erosion of the cliff face may have removed the line of defences on the S seaward side. Alternatively, the cliff face may have provided a natural defence in antiquity, making the construction of a S section of the defences unnecessary. The hillfort, which is of a class often provided with two entrances, has only one confirmed entrance which has been surveyed and described in 1989 by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). It is of inturned type on the NW angle of the circuit of defences. The E inturn is seen as an elongated bank 14m long, 6m in width and 0.6m in height; the corresponding inturn on the W, providing an entrance way of 2m-3m in width, is not so well defined, but is nevertheless visible. Some redundant post-medieval hedgebanks survive as low linear earthworks in the interior of the hillfort just behind, and parallel with, the N defences. Outworks to the E of the monument were originally thought to represent contemporary enclosures associated with the hillfort, but these have been shown during archaeological investigation by the RCHME to be post-medieval field boundaries. These features are no longer considered to be part of the monument, and are not included in the scheduling.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, 126 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Exeter Archaeology, 2004, East Devon AONB Archaeological Survey. Beer Head and Berry Camp (Report - non-specific). SDV347613.

Defensible hilltop enclosure part of which has been lost to coastal erosion. The site is presumed to date to the first millennium BC but has never been subject to excavation. The fort has a single bank and ditch with two visible entrances. To the east of the camp are two mounds and a complex field system extends both east and west of the site.

Environment Agency, 2006-2007, LiDAR data JPEG image (1 metre resolution), LIDAR SY 1888 Environment Agency D0075801 Nov 2006 - Mar 2007 (Cartographic). SDV356180.

The hillfort ditch and ramparts are partially visible as earthworks. Map object partly based on this source.

Dean, R., 2013, Land at Berry Cliff Camp, Branscombe, Devon: An Archaeological Gradiometer Survey (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV360952.

This survey was part of a programme of archaeological investigations at Berry Cliff Camp commissioned as part of the Unlocking Our Coastal Heritage project (Horner, 2010). The site comprises Berry Cliff Camp, an Iron Age hillfort, and an adjoining prehistoric field system which occupy a plateau of land at Littlecombe Hill, Branscombe; both are Scheduled Monuments. This section of East Devon Coast is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, which is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The South West Coast Path (SWCP) passes through the monument and field system running parallel with the cliff edge. The magnetic contrast across the survey areas was sufficient to be able to differentiate between anomalies representing possible archaeological features and background magnetic responses. A total of 39 magnetic anomaly groups were identified as pertaining to potential archaeology.

Areas 2 to 4
Groups 21, 22 and 23 and possibly 25 relate to the extant northern defences of Berry Camp hillfort. This boundary is described as a single rampart fronted by a U-shaped ditch (4.5m wide by 1.1m deep) with a counterscarp bank (section 2). Archaeological recording carried out in 2012 where the South West Coast Path passes through Berry Camp hillfort describe the defences at that location as composed of an inner (eastern) and outer (western) ramparts separated by a silted up ditch with no evidence for a second ditch on the outside of the outer rampart (AC Archaeology 2012: Devon County Council Historic Environment Record, forthcoming). The anomaly groups suggest that the northern bank may have a more complex construction than a single bank and outer ditch or that there was more than one phase of construction of the northern defences.

Group 32 is likely to reflect an extant earthwork mapped by the RCHME and the Ordnance Survey.

Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2013-2014, South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV351146.

The earthwork ramparts and ditch of Berry camp are intermittently visible on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards, and on digital images derived from Lidar data captured from 2001 to 2007. The defences on the western and eastern sides of the hillfort are most clearly visible. The outermost of the north-east facing ramparts remains in use as a field boundary and the earthwork banks are largely obscured from view by dense hedgerow vegetation. The density of the vegetation has resulted in poor definition in the Lidar images available to the survey. The regular linear earthwork ditch flanked bank that crosses the interior of the hillfort from north-west to south-east corresponds with a field boundary depicted on the tithe map for Branscombe.

Pink, F., 2014-2015, South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment (Interpretation). SDV357736.

Youngman, P., East Devon AONB, 2017, Berry Cliff Camp (Ground Photograph). SDV360963.

Illustrative photos of site management work undertaken by East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) as part of the South-West Coast Path (SWCP) Unlocking our Coastal Heritge Project.

Tilley, C., 2017, Landscape in the Longue Durée, 299-319, tables 9.1-9.5, figs 9.7-9.17 (Monograph). SDV361032.

Discussion of Woodbury Castle and the other hillforts in the locality, making reference to the East Devon pebblebeds.

Historic England, 2704/2015, Berry Cliff Camp, Berry Barton Farm, Cliff Top Field (Schedule Document). SDV358159.

Application for Scheduled Monument Consent concerning the construction of pedestrian steps on the earthwork bank to carry the realigned route of the South West Coast Path. Historic England considers the effect of the proposed works upon the monument to be beneficial for the preservation, presentation and public enjoyment of the monument with only a minor impact on the monument which is unlikely to cause significant archaeological damage and which does not require any archaeological recording.

Passmore, A., Jan 2013, Berry Cliff Camp, Branscombe, East Devon. Results of Archaeological Recording (Report - non-specific). SDV354347.

Archaeological recording of exposed deposits prior to consolidation of the South West Coast Path (SWCP), where it runs through the site. Part of a two-part investigation that also included a geophysical survey of the camp (separate report). The consolidation works were carried out at the western end of the hillfort where the SCWP passes through the western defences of the camp. Erosion has exposed redeposited subsoil deposits with flint inclusions which was particularly visible where the path crossed the ramparts. Where the path crosses the inner rampart a line of three large flint blocks was exposed. Their position appears to be within the core of the rampart. Another line of three smaller stones exposed in the outer rampart again probably represent core material. No finds were recovered. The redeposited deposits of subsoil with flints recorded correspond with observations made during a RCHME earthwork survey of the camp in 1989.
The survey identified that the defences on the eastern side of the hillfort do not continue to the south of the SWCP and that the area has suffered localised cliff falls in the recent past.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV134062Report - Survey: LOCATION UNCLEAR.
SDV134066Migrated Record:
SDV134068Migrated Record:
SDV134069Aerial Photograph:
SDV134070Migrated Record:
SDV134071Migrated Record:
SDV134072Migrated Record:
SDV134073Migrated Record:
SDV134074Migrated Record:
SDV134075Migrated Record:
SDV134076Migrated Record:
SDV134077Migrated Record:
SDV134078Migrated Record:
SDV134079Migrated Record:
SDV134080Migrated Record:
SDV134081Migrated Record:
SDV134082Migrated Record:
SDV134083Migrated Record:
SDV134084Migrated Record:
SDV134085Migrated Record:
SDV134087Aerial Photograph:
SDV134088Aerial Photograph:
SDV18473Migrated Record: PAGE.
SDV2Report - Survey: Timms, S. C..
SDV326812Migrated Record: Department of Environment.
SDV338325Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1998. Berry Cliff Camp. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled. [Mapped feature: #68324 ]
SDV338326Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1924. Berry Cliff Camp. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV338329Aerial Photograph: Devon County Council. 1996. DAP/ZE. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1, 2.
SDV338331Un-published: Salvatore, J. P.. 1997. Berry Cliff Camp. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Digital. 144388.
SDV347613Report - non-specific: Exeter Archaeology. 2004. East Devon AONB Archaeological Survey. Beer Head and Berry Camp. Exeter Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV351146Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2013-2014. South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV351568Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003-2004. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material. 126.
SDV354347Report - non-specific: Passmore, A.. Jan 2013. Berry Cliff Camp, Branscombe, East Devon. Results of Archaeological Recording. AC Archaeology Report. ACD449/2/0. Digital.
SDV355833Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1945. RAF/106G/UK/508. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/106G/UK/508 4131-4132 13-JUL-1945.
SDV356180Cartographic: Environment Agency. 2006-2007. LiDAR data JPEG image (1 metre resolution). Environment Agency LiDAR data. Digital. LIDAR SY 1888 Environment Agency D0075801 Nov 2006 - Mar 2007.
SDV357736Interpretation: Pink, F.. 2014-2015. South Devon Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV358159Schedule Document: Historic England. 2704/2015. Berry Cliff Camp, Berry Barton Farm, Cliff Top Field. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Digital.
SDV360952Report - Geophysical Survey: Dean, R.. 2013. Land at Berry Cliff Camp, Branscombe, Devon: An Archaeological Gradiometer Survey. Substrata. 130110. Digital.
SDV360963Ground Photograph: Youngman, P., East Devon AONB. 2017. Berry Cliff Camp. Photograph (Digital).
SDV361032Monograph: Tilley, C.. 2017. Landscape in the Longue Durée. Landscape in the Longue Durée. Digital. 299-319, tables 9.1-9.5, figs 9.7-9.17.
SDV38857Migrated Record: Weston, S..
SDV677Report - Survey: Griffith, F. M..
SDV7666Migrated Record: RCHM.
SDV8774Migrated Record: Griffith, F. M..
SDV96023Migrated Record: HUTCHINSON.

Associated Monuments

MDV20100Related to: Earthwork Mound East of Berry Camp, Branscombe (Monument)
MDV10927Related to: Earthwork Mound on Berry Cliff, East of Berry Camp, Branscombe (Monument)
MDV49237Related to: Multiperiod Field System and Clearnance Cairns, North of Littlecombe Shoot (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5183 - Assessment of Berry Camp and Beer Head
  • EDV6313 - Archaeological Recording at Berry Cliff Camp, Branscombe
  • EDV8068 - Gradiometer Survey: Land at Berry Cliff Camp, Branscombe (Ref: 130110)

Date Last Edited:Mar 5 2019 2:41PM