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HER Number:MDV123654
Name:Castle Hill Battery, Berry Head Fortifications, Brixham


A 3-gun battery firing en barbette established 1779-80 taking its name from a prehistoric earthwork feature - a 'Danish castle' - reactivated 1795; decommissioned 1817 and abandonned 1832.


Grid Reference:SX 936 566
Map Sheet:SX95NW
Admin AreaTorbay
Civil ParishBrixham
Ecclesiastical ParishBRIXHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Torbay HER: MTO19478

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BATTERY (XVIII to XIX - 1779 AD to 1832 AD (Between))

Full description

Torbay HER record (SMR record). SDV361984.

A battery of 3 guns was established 1779-80 above Ash Hole Cavern, taking its name from the earthwork feature, the supposed 'Danish' Castle which was prominent enough to be depicted on Donn's 1765 County Map of Devon [1]. Decommissioned in 1783 at end of the American War of Independence and reactivated 1793, for use during the period of French wars with the Directory and Napoleon.

The earliest modern descriptions are in a Council-sponsored guide book [2] and a management plan [3] before Evans's work examining the documentary history of the fortifications in detail. [4][5]

The remains of the battery form the patio and garden of a later 20C house, 'Round Top'. A circular gun platform of 3 granite slabs, facing west, north and east is fronted by a low limestone wall 0.25m high with further (later) brick courses. Externally the wall is faced for a length of 3.3m down the north and west sides of the cliff/quarry edge on which it is situated. The granite gun platforms slope gently down from front to rear - in order to mininmise the recoil. Early armament (1780) was 20 or 24-pounders to be replaced by 24 or 32-pounders (1795-1817). In both cases the guns fired en barbette. In 1832 Col. Birch on behalf of the Board of Ordnance proposed to abandon the position, relocating the battery 'to the shore' (Shoalstone Point, SX95NW/110). [6][7]

An unchecked miscellaneous reference is to a mss held in the Devon & Exeter Institution dated 24 August 1840 complied by a Mr Woolcombe - in which he refers to Mr Lyte discovering a cave below the fort with human skulls, bone, ivory instruments, pottery, coin of claudius and other roman artefacts. This is of course Ashole Cavern.

Pancheri, C., 1995, Site visit to Round Top, Victoria Road, Brixham - 16 November 1995 (Un-published). SDV362297.


<1> Donn, B., 1765, A Map of the County of Devon (Cartographic). SDV362503.


<2> County Borough of Torbay, 1967, Berry Head, p.16,19 (Monograph). SDV362520.


<3> Hawkins, M.R., 1973, Berry Head Management Plan, Zone J (Report - Interim). SDV362518.


<4> Evans, D, 1986, The Berry Head Forts (Un-published). SDV362284.


<5> Evans, D., 1986, The History of the Berry Head Fortifications (Un-published). SDV362495.


<6> Pye, A.R., 1989, Berry Head Fort, Brixham. An Archaeological Assessment, p. 3-4, 34; figs 2-5, 6.3, 7.1, 8, 11-13 (Report - Assessment). SDV362497.


<7> Pye, A.R. & Slater, W.D., 1990, Berry Head Fort, Brixham, An Archaeological Survey, p.3-4, 25; figs 1-2, 5-6, 11, 24 (Report - Survey). SDV362493.


Sources / Further Reading

SDV361984SMR record: Torbay HER record.
SDV362297Un-published: Pancheri, C.. 1995. Site visit to Round Top, Victoria Road, Brixham - 16 November 1995.
SDV362503Cartographic: Donn, B.. 1765. A Map of the County of Devon.
SDV362520Monograph: County Borough of Torbay. 1967. Berry Head. Berry Head. Paperback. p.16,19.
SDV362518Report - Interim: Hawkins, M.R.. 1973. Berry Head Management Plan. Parks Committee of the County Borough of Torbay. Zone J.
SDV362284Un-published: Evans, D. 1986. The Berry Head Forts. . Manuscript.
SDV362495Un-published: Evans, D.. 1986. The History of the Berry Head Fortifications. . Manuscript.
SDV362497Report - Assessment: Pye, A.R.. 1989. Berry Head Fort, Brixham. An Archaeological Assessment. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. EMAFU 89.04. Hardcopy + Digital. p. 3-4, 34; figs 2-5, 6.3, 7.1, 8, 11-13.
Linked documents:1
SDV362493Report - Survey: Pye, A.R. & Slater, W.D.. 1990. Berry Head Fort, Brixham, An Archaeological Survey. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. EMAFU 90.10. Hardcopy + Digital. p.3-4, 25; figs 1-2, 5-6, 11, 24.
Linked documents:1

Associated Monuments

MDV123991Part of: Berry Head Fortifications, Brixham (Monument)
MDV123787Related to: Battery Gardens, Brixham: Furzdon/Fishcombe Battery (Monument)
MDV19478Related to: BATTERY in the Parish of (Monument)
MDV20088Related to: Hardy's Head Battery, Berry Head (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7853 - Site visit by Chris Pancheri - 16 Nov 1995

Date Last Edited:Sep 10 2020 4:20PM