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HER Number:MDV17378
Name:Brownhill Battery, Staddon Heights, Wembury

Summary

Brownhill Battery, built circa 1869 to protect the Staddon Heights position from land attack. Visible as earthwork ramparts and ditch, and structural elements, on aerial photographs taken from the 1940s onwards.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 494 510
Map Sheet:SX45SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishWembury
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishPLYMSTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 437638
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX45SE/43

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ARTILLERY FORT (XIX - 1860 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

BOVEY, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156067.

Brownhill battery. Part of the palmerstonian defences of plymouth. Protecting the fort from attack by land (bovey).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156071.

Hogg, i. V. /coast defences of england and wales 1856-1956/(1974)203-4.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156072.

Osa=sx45se123.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156073.

Des=bovey, r. /as above(1982).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156074.

Des=plymouth fortress survey/pye, a.(1992)/copy and plan in smr.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156075.

Pro=zhc1/2577/(1860)/royal commission report.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156076.

Pro=zhl1/1884/(1869)/report of parliamentary commission.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156077.

Des=mod armament tables/(1893)/in mod whitehall library.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156078.

Des=mod armament tables/(1885)/in mod whitehall library.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156079.

Pro=wo78/623/(1872)/1:2500 map, war dept.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156080.

Pro=wo78/2314/(1896)/1:2500 map, war dept.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156081.

Des=map/(1870) with c 1894 additions/in plymouth proprietory library.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156082.

Des=saunders, a. /(c1990)/ms notes.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156083.

Woodward, f. W. /plymouth's defences/(1990)18,20,45, fig f.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156084.

Des=woodward, f. /forts or follies/(1997).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV156085.

Des=pye, a. + woodward, f. /the historic defences of plymouth/(1996)203-205.

Untitled Source (Aerial Photograph). SDV156086.

Aph=dap/ut 3-5(10/1/1992).

HOGG, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV163257.

Built c.1869, planned as a simple open work to mount 14 guns (hogg).

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/2105, RAF/CPE/UK/2105 RP 3137-3138 28-MAY-1947 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351151.

The battery is visible as earthwork banks and ditch, with some structural features.

Royal Air Force, 1955, RAF/540/1625, RAF/540/1625 F21 0024-0025 24-MAY-1955 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351141.

The earthwork ramparts and external bank are visible, under scattered scrub, with a pitched roofed structure in the centre of the enclosure. A high wall and what appears to be a low bank demarcate the western side.

Royal Air Force, 1958, RAF 58/2546, RAF/58/2546/0376-0377 26-AUG-1958 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351257.

The earthworks, one internal building and two smaller structures built into the ramparts are visible.

PLYMOUTH FORTRESS SURVEY, 1992, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV27236.

This forms part of the 1860s staddon heights position, protecting it from land attack. Its guns covered the valley now occupied by bovisand lodge and extending up to the verge of down thomas to the south-east. It was designed in 1860 for 14 guns with three expense magazines. In 1885 it was armed with eight 64-pounder rml guns and in 1893 with six 8" rml howitzers. In 1879 it was used to store gun-cotton for use in submarine mines. It was abandoned by the mod c.1900 (plymouth fortress survey).

Pye, A. + Woodward, F., 1996, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, Fig. 106 (Monograph). SDV167752.

An extract from the Ordnance Survey map of 1896 depicts the earthworks and two rectangular structures within the defences.

Historic England, 2014, NMR 29059, NMR 29059_041 13-JUN-2014 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363262.

The earthworks of the battery are scrub covered, the remains of some of the structures are visible as roofless ruins, and the loopholes in the west facing wall are visible.

English Heritage, 2014, Staddon Heights Defences, including Fort Staddon, Brownhill Battery, Watch House Battery, Staddon Heights Battery, Staddon Battery and associated features and structures. (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV356311.

Brownhill Battery is an important and rare surviving example of a half-moon wing battery, retaining much of its structure including its gorge wall and gun loops, embankments and some ancillary structures. Only 70 forts and batteries were built under the Royal Commission of 1860, meaning that they are a select group in themselves. Wing batteries of this type and plan are rare, a comparable example being those at Fort Burgoyne, Dover (Scheduled Monument KE 191). Brownhill Battery has strong potential to retain information of the construction methods of these defences, particularly on the embankment to the east where an unknown number of magazines and other structures are understood to remain beneath the undergrowth. As with the other structures in this assessment it has strong group value and, with the exception of Frobisher Battery, the original extent and armaments of the battery are well-documented. Taken as a whole, these military works present a rare grouping of nationally-important monuments with a rich and multi-layered history that is inherent in their interconnectedness and shared historic use. The structures within the proposed boundary all meet the criteria for scheduling.

Vulliamy, C., 2015, Brownhill Battery: Dumping and Cutting into Military Bank (Ground Photograph). SDV358589.

Historic England, 2016, Damage to Monuments, Unlicensed Detecting and Unauthorised Works to Monuments (Report - Assessment). SDV360041.

Damage to Monuments, including unlicensed detecting and unauthorised works to Monuments.
Considerable earth moving on the site with imported material up to c. 1.2m in depth levelled to form a new surface layer above original. New layer seemingly seeded with grass. Work undertaken very recently (probably within the last month).
Externally, adjacent to entrance, a series of steps have recently been cut into the fort rampart to allow easier access for golfers. There are some indications that this work may be ongoing.

Cornwall Archaeological Unit, 2017, South Cornwall Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment, 1069 (Interpretation). SDV360825.

Brownhill Battery dates to the late 19th century and was built to defend the outer lines of the Staddon Heights military complex.

Ordnance Survey, 2018, MasterMap 2018 (Cartographic). SDV360652.

Earthworks of battery shown.

Google, 2019, Google Earth Pro, EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 05-APR-2007 ACCESSED 23-AUG-2019 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363088.

The earthworks are tree and scrub covered. The central rectangular building is partially roofed.

Google, 2019, Google Earth Pro, EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 22-APR-2015 ACCESSED 23-AUG-2019; EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 08-AUG-2015 ACCESSED 23-AUG-2019 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363088.

Between 2015 and 2016 there appears to have been significant earth movement within the ramparts, with substantial mounds of bare earth visible.

Google, 2019, Google Earth Pro, EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 22-JUN-2018 ACCESSED 23-AUG-2019 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363088.

The earthworks are tree and scrub covered. The only remains of the rectangular building is a low flat structure, probably a concrete base.

Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2019-2020, The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP) (Interpretation). SDV362982.

The earthwork and structural defences of Brownhill Battery are visible on aerial photographs taken from the 1940s onwards. An earthwork rampart, up to 40 metres in maximum width, and external ditch of up to approximately 8 metres define the north, east and south sides. A high wall and what appears to be a low bank demarcate the western side.
A military oblique aerial photograph provides a good view of the site in 1958, and this includes structures built into the north-east part of the rampart, with an opening facing the inside of the enclosure, which are not clearly not visible on the vertical imagery. These correspond to the location of magazines recorded by Pye and Woodward (1996). By 1958 the rampart had started to scrub up.
Of the two structures depicted in the centre of the fort on late-19th century mapping, the larger is visible on the aerial photographs taken from the 1940s onwards, initially as a pitched roofed structure in the centre of the enclosure. By 2007 this was partially roofed, but no superstructure was visible on aerial photographs taken in 2018, when the only remains seem to be a low flat structure, probably a concrete base.
Details of the site, including the roofless structures at the entrance and the loopholes in the western wall, are visible on oblique aerial photgrapgs taken in 2014. The damage reported by earth moving in 2015-2016 is reflected in the aerial imagery from these years, where areas of bare earth and mounds are clearly visible within and against the ramparts.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV156067Migrated Record: BOVEY.
SDV156071Migrated Record:
SDV156072Migrated Record:
SDV156073Migrated Record:
SDV156074Migrated Record:
SDV156075Migrated Record:
SDV156076Migrated Record:
SDV156077Migrated Record:
SDV156078Migrated Record:
SDV156079Migrated Record:
SDV156080Migrated Record:
SDV156081Migrated Record:
SDV156082Migrated Record:
SDV156083Migrated Record:
SDV156084Migrated Record:
SDV156085Migrated Record:
SDV156086Aerial Photograph:
SDV163257Migrated Record: HOGG.
SDV167752Monograph: Pye, A. + Woodward, F.. 1996. The Historic Defences of Plymouth. The Historic Defences of Plymouth. A4 Paperback. Fig. 106.
SDV27236Migrated Record: PLYMOUTH FORTRESS SURVEY. 1992.
SDV351141Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1955. RAF/540/1625. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/540/1625 F21 0024-0025 24-MAY-1955.
SDV351151Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/2105. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/2105 RP 3137-3138 28-MAY-1947. [Mapped feature: #82038 ]
SDV351257Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1958. RAF 58/2546. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/58/2546/0376-0377 26-AUG-1958.
SDV356311List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2014. Staddon Heights Defences, including Fort Staddon, Brownhill Battery, Watch House Battery, Staddon Heights Battery, Staddon Battery and associated features and structures.. Amendment to Schedule. Digital.
SDV358589Ground Photograph: Vulliamy, C.. 2015. Brownhill Battery: Dumping and Cutting into Military Bank. Digital.
SDV360041Report - Assessment: Historic England. 2016. Damage to Monuments, Unlicensed Detecting and Unauthorised Works to Monuments. Historic England. 74776.
SDV360652Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap 2018. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV360825Interpretation: Cornwall Archaeological Unit. 2017. South Cornwall Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Desk-Based Assessment. RCZAS. Digital. 1069.
SDV362982Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2019-2020. The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP). Historic England Research Report. Digital.
SDV363088Aerial Photograph: Google. 2019. Google Earth Pro. Various. Digital. EARTH.GOOGLE.COM 22-JUN-2018 ACCESSED 23-AUG-2019.
SDV363262Aerial Photograph: Historic England. 2014. NMR 29059. Historic England Aerial Photograph. Digital. NMR 29059_041 13-JUN-2014.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7204 - Staddon Heights Defences: Damage to Monuments, unlicensed detecting and unauthorised works to Monuments. (Ref: 74776)
  • EDV8098 - The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping (formerly NMP) Survey, Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (Ref: ACD2040)

Date Last Edited:Oct 22 2019 11:21AM