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HER Number:MDV13753
Name:Berry Ball Iron Age Hillfort south-east of Great Cleave Copse


Earthwork remains of Berry Ball Iron Age hillfort to the south-east of Great Cleave Copse


Grid Reference:SX 761 974
Map Sheet:SX79NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishColebrooke
Civil ParishCrediton Hamlets
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCOLEBROOKE
Ecclesiastical ParishCREDITON HAMLETS

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Berry Ball. Iron Age hillfort south west of Highfield

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 445714
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX79NE/8
  • Royal Albert Memorial Museum Accession Number: 43/2000

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Royal Air Force, 13/04/1947, CPE/UK/1995, 3176 (Aerial Photograph). SDV217286.

Other details: 35/21.

Davidson, J. B., 1861, Untitled Source, 26 (Monograph). SDV123842.

Enclosure of circa 200 yards (183 metres) long. Bank remains only in north half. Known as 'Lethen' or 'Leden Castle' or 'The Cleeves'. It lies on the road dividing the parishes of Colebrook and Crediton.

Silvester, R. J., 1981, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV344207.

A site showing as a dark/light (ditch and bank) mark on an aerial photograph is visible as an earthwork on the ground. Identified as the site known as Leathern Castle which was described by Davidson in 1861. The mark appears to represent one side and parts of two other sides of a sub-rectangular enclosure. The field showing the mark adjoins a road, and it is possible that the feature survives in the hedge pattern on the other side of the road.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1981 - 1982, SX79NE5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV344208.

Remains of an Iron Age type of fortified enclosure or settlement. The earthwork formerly enclosed about 1.2 hectares on the highest point of a north-east to south-west ridge and bisected by a road. Bank still visible to the north of the road, and a small length of ditch traced. A mound was identified at the northeast end of the enclosure. Rapid examination of aerial photographs suggests that there are traces of the bank on the south side of the road at the south-west end of this feature.

Quinnell, N. V., 1982, Lethern Castle (Cartographic). SDV356648.

Griffith, F. M., 1989, DAP/LN, 3-4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV53187.

Horner, B., 1994, DAP/WC, 17-21 (Aerial Photograph). SDV39277.

Exeter Archaeology, 1998, Archaeological Assessment of Tongue End to Crediton Water Main Replacement, 8 (Report - Assessment). SDV323202.

Exeter Archaeology, 1999, Secrets of a small hillfort (Article in Serial). SDV358505.

During the summer of1998 South West Water replaced part of an existing water main which runs from Crediton to South Zeal. Along the route of the pipeline to the north-east of Hittisleigh, the remains of an earthwork, probably presenting a small Iron Age hillfort had been identified.

The watching brief during the topsoil stripping for the pipe confirmed that the hillfort did indeed extend into the field on the east side of the road, its north and south boundaries being marked approximately by the lines of present hedge banks. The southern defences of the hillfort survived as an infilled outer ditch located just to the south of the hedge bank and remains of a rampart were found to the north.

Evidence of occupation within the fort consisted of postholes, pits and probable drip-gullies of circular buildings. The pottery recovered from the excavation consisted of very small abraded sherds which are not easily identifiable or dateable. However one sherd could be assigned an Iron Age date. A few pieces of iron slag were recovered from the site, indicating that metal working has taken place in the vicinity.

For further details see library linked article.

GSB Prospection, 2007, Berry Ball Hillfort near Crediton (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV344211.

The survey provided little new evidence for the hillfort enclosure. The north-west outer ditch has been identified adjacent to the extant earthworks and suggestions of an inner ditch have been detected on the north-west, north-east and south-west sides although the latter may be a quarry scoop associated with construction of the rampart. Within the hillfort a few anomolies may represent circuluar or curvilinear settlement features. A possible former field boundary was identified to the south of the enclosure and a pair of ditches or a possible trackway was identified to the east.

Manning, P. + Quinnell, H., 2009, Excavation and Field Survey at the Iron Age Hillfort of Berry Ball, Crediton Hamlets, 344801 (Article in Serial). SDV344801.

Excavation at Berry Ball in 1998 in advance of the laying of a new water pipeline examined the defensive ditch and rampart, the remains of nine or more roundhouses and an occupation horizon preceding the defences. Radiocarbon determinations indicated occupation in the 4th-3rd centuries BC. Finds included a characteristic Middle Iron Age glass bead of Garrow Tor type which was recovered from a pit (547). The bead has a pale turquoise body with eyes of brown, white and blue glass. Glass beads of this type are relatively unusual but it can be paralleled with beads found in central and other parts of Iron Age Europe. It is suggested that the bead was deliberately buried in the pit. The results of aerial photography and geophysical survey are also discussed, plus the find of a glass bead from Halsdon Farm, Dolton. Only 4 glass beads have been found in Devon. See article for full details of the excavation and finds.

National Monuments Record, 2010, 445714 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV344210.

Possible Iron Age enclosed settlement or hillfort, may have also been the site of a beacon, seen as earthworks. Other details: SX7697/1-6.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M., 2011, In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts (Article in Serial). SDV361500.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV123842Monograph: Davidson, J. B.. 1861. Antiquities of Devon. Unknown. 26.
SDV217286Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 13/04/1947. CPE/UK/1995. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3176.
SDV323202Report - Assessment: Exeter Archaeology. 1998. Archaeological Assessment of Tongue End to Crediton Water Main Replacement. Exeter Archaeology Report. 98.42. A4 Stapled + Digital. 8.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #81022 ]
SDV344207Personal Comment: Silvester, R. J.. 1981.
SDV344208Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1981 - 1982. SX79NE5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV344210National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2010. 445714. National Monuments Record Index. Website.
SDV344211Report - Geophysical Survey: GSB Prospection. 2007. Berry Ball Hillfort near Crediton. GSB Prospection Report. 2007/57. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV344801Article in Serial: Manning, P. + Quinnell, H.. 2009. Excavation and Field Survey at the Iron Age Hillfort of Berry Ball, Crediton Hamlets. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 67. Paperback Volume. 344801.
SDV356648Cartographic: Quinnell, N. V.. 1982. Lethern Castle. Annotated Ordnance Survey Plan. a4 single Sheet + Digital.
SDV358505Article in Serial: Exeter Archaeology. 1999. Secrets of a small hillfort. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 72. Extract + Digital.
SDV361500Article in Serial: Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M.. 2011. In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts. British Archaeological Reports. 548. Paperback Volume.
SDV39277Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1994. DAP/WC. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 17-21.
SDV53187Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1989. DAP/LN. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3-4.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds

  • FDV1676 - BEAD (Middle Iron Age - 300 BC to 200 BC)

Associated Events

  • EDV4586 - Geophysical Survey at Berry Ball Hillfort near Crediton
  • EDV4778 - Excavation at Berry Ball, Crediton Hamlets

Date Last Edited:Jun 28 2018 11:23AM