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HER Number:MDV14054
Name:Seaton Down Hillfort

Summary

Iron Age promontory fort with a single rampart and ditch on a spur of Seaton Down

Location

Grid Reference:SY 234 918
Map Sheet:SY29SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishSeaton
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBEER AND SEATON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY29SW/158
  • Old SAM County Ref: 266
  • Old SAM Ref: 29641
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SY29SW4
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Hutchinson, P. O., 1848-1894, Diaries (Un-published). SDV339321.

Diary entries for 19th May 1865 and 29th August 1885. Two banks running east-west, larger one circe 250 metres long, 10 metres wide, 6 metres up slope. Shorter bank north of main one, circa 40 metres long. Map on Manuscript at 29th August 1885.


Hutchinson, P. O., 1868, On Hill Fortresses, Sling-Stones, and other Antiquities in South Eastern Devon, 379 (Article in Serial). SDV120058.

Seaton Down. On the crown of the hill a ditch and agger have been carried east and west across the ridge. A second similar one was begun to the rear of it, and left unfinished. They were intended to guard the road and oppose the passage of the enemy coming up from the valley of the River Axe.


Hutchinson, P. O., 1885, Honeyditches, 279-80 (Article in Serial). SDV120066.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 625 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1954 - 1983, SY29SW4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV339328.


Ministry of Works, 1969, Promontory fort on Seaton Down (Schedule Document). SDV118009.

Single rampart and ditch across the spur. The position of the entrance is uncertain. Short length of a second line of rampart and ditch in the interior. The site is in deep bracken. There is a hedge bank on the outer lip of the ditch. Length of outer rampart 45 feet, inner one 130 feet.


Robinson, R., 1982, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV339318.


Griffith, F. M. + Robinson, R., 1983, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV339319.

The site is under grass but is not ploughed, according to the owner. The site is enigmatic: a spur cut off by a single cross dyke, with the isolated section of bank and ditch in the centre. The parallel is surely more closely a hillslope enclosure than a hillfort. A number of terraced platforms were observed: details on worksheet.


Robinson, R., 1983, Untitled Source (Un-published). SDV337031.


Parkinson, M., 1985, The Axe Estuary and its Marshes, 20 (Article in Serial). SDV122290.

Parkinson suggests that the hillforts of Hawkesdown, Musbury and Seaton Down were used both to reinforce a tribal boundary, formed by the Axe estuary, and to defend against invaders from the sea via the estuary.


Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/GC, 10,11 (Aerial Photograph). SDV57556.


Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/HG, 3-4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV120096.


Unknown, 1986, Seaton Down Earthworks (Worksheet). SDV358606.


Griffith, F. M., 1987, DAP/IQ, 12-13 (Aerial Photograph). SDV120097.


Robinson, R., 1987, Earthwork (Worksheet). SDV339329.


Pye, A. R. + Turton, S. D., 1989, Historic Landscape Assessment of Five Possible Reservoir Sites in the Axe Valley, East Devon, 17 (Report - Assessment). SDV336543.


Department of Environment, 1989, Promontory fort on Seaton Down (Schedule Document). SDV339322.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for light cultivation for reseeding.


Dixon, T. + Turton, S. D., 1995, Archaeological and Historical Appraisal of the Town of Seaton, East Devon, 3 (Report - non-specific). SDV120095.


Salvatore, J. P., 1997, Untitled Source (Un-published). SDV339327.

Promontory fort of probable Iron Age date. The natural defences of the site on three sides are completed by a cross spur rampart and ditch on the south side, this being the only level approach, which encloses a D-shaped area of approximately 6 hectares. A shorter bank and ditch further into the interior may have been left unfinished; it may not necessarily have been defensive in function. Hutchinson described the site in 1865 with dimensions of the earthworks not too dissimilar to those given below. The cross spur rampart which provides the outer defence on the south side extends for about 200 metres east to west across the neck of the spur. It survives to a height of between 0.7 metres and 1 metre and is about 3.8 metres wide. It is fronted on its south side by a ditch which is about 6.5 metres wide and 1 metre deep. At both ends the rampart and ditch fade out and the defences are completed on the remaining 3 sides by the steep natural hillslope. The location of the original entrance through the rampart has not been located with confidence. An inner bank and ditch, possibly defensive but not certainly so, lies at a distance of about 150 metres behind the main rampart on a southwest-northeast alignment; the bank is 40 metres long with a maximum height of about 0.4 metres. It has a ditch on the south side now infilled and only just visible as a depression about 6 metres wide; it was suggested by Wall to perhaps have been unfinished. The relatively flat enclosed area of nearly 300 metres x 200 metres possesses some terraced platforms, visible under certain lighting conditions, which suggest habitation or cultivation activity in the interior. Parkinson has suggested that this fort along with Hawkesbury and Musbury were used to reinforce a tribal boundary formed by the River Axe but there is no certainty that all 3 sites were occupied contemporaneously. Other details: MPP AI144393.


Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1998, Promontory fort on Seaton Down (Schedule Document). SDV339323.

Promontory fort on Seaton Down probably of Iron Age date on a north facing spur overlooking Holyford Brook on the west side of the River Axe. The defences enclose a D-shaped area of circa 6 hectares. The cross-spur rampart extends circa 200 meters east to west and is up to 1 metre high by circa 3.8 metres wide. A ditch on the southern side is circa 6.5 metres wide and 1 metre deep. A bank and ditch lie in the interior circa 150 metres north of the main rampart and on a northwest to southeast alignment. The bank is 40 metres long by up to 0.6 metres high with a shallow ditch circa 6 metres wide. The flat area 300 metres long by 200 metres wide within the fort contains some terraced platforms. All fences, gates and gate posts are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.


Bourn, R., 2000, Land off Harbour Road, Seaton: Archaeological Desk Based Assessment, 8 (Report - Assessment). SDV120104.


Steinmetzer, M., 2007, Archaeological Watching Brief at Uppacott, Harepath Hill, Seaton (Report - Watching Brief). SDV339331.

Groundworks 150 metres to the south of Seaton Down hillfort in 2007 exposed no features or deposits of archaeological significance.


English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 93 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Generally satisfactory but with significant localised problems. Declining. Principal vulnerability moderate stock erosion.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV118009Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1969. Promontory fort on Seaton Down. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV120058Article in Serial: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1868. On Hill Fortresses, Sling-Stones, and other Antiquities in South Eastern Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 2 part 2. A5 Hardback. 379.
SDV120066Article in Serial: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1885. Honeyditches. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 17. A5 Hardback. 279-80.
SDV120095Report - non-specific: Dixon, T. + Turton, S. D.. 1995. Archaeological and Historical Appraisal of the Town of Seaton, East Devon. Exeter Archaeology Report. 95.69. A4 Grip Bound. 3.
SDV120096Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/HG. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3-4.
SDV120097Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1987. DAP/IQ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 12-13.
SDV120104Report - Assessment: Bourn, R.. 2000. Land off Harbour Road, Seaton: Archaeological Desk Based Assessment. CgMs Consulting Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 8.
SDV122290Article in Serial: Parkinson, M.. 1985. The Axe Estuary and its Marshes. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 117. A5 Paperback. 20.
SDV336543Report - Assessment: Pye, A. R. + Turton, S. D.. 1989. Historic Landscape Assessment of Five Possible Reservoir Sites in the Axe Valley, East Devon. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 89.06. A4 Stapled + Digital. 17.
SDV337031Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1983. List of Field Monument Warden visits. Unknown.
SDV339318Site Visit: Robinson, R.. 1982. Field Monument Warden Visit.
SDV339319Site Visit: Griffith, F. M. + Robinson, R.. 1983.
SDV339321Un-published: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1848-1894. Diaries. Devon Record Office Collection. Manuscript.
SDV339322Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1989. Promontory fort on Seaton Down. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Letter.
SDV339323Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1998. Promontory fort on Seaton Down. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV339327Un-published: Salvatore, J. P.. 1997. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Unknown.
SDV339328Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1954 - 1983. SY29SW4. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV339329Worksheet: Robinson, R.. 1987. Earthwork. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV339331Report - Watching Brief: Steinmetzer, M.. 2007. Archaeological Watching Brief at Uppacott, Harepath Hill, Seaton. Exeter Archaeology Historic Environment Record Entry. Project 6259. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 625.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 93.
SDV358606Worksheet: Unknown. 1986. Seaton Down Earthworks. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV57556Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GC. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 10,11.

Associated Monuments

MDV11391Related to: Hawkesdown Camp (Monument)
MDV11390Related to: Musbury Castle (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4288 - Uppacott, Harepath Hill, Seaton

Date Last Edited:Jun 18 2015 8:30AM