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HER Number:MDV1880
Name:Culmstock Beacon


Culmstock Beacon, rebuilt after a collapse in 1870. Small circular beehive shaped building with opening in roof. Beam slots inside thought to have lodged the fire bars.


Grid Reference:ST 110 150
Map Sheet:ST11NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishCulmstock
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCULMSTOCK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: ST11NW/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BEACON (Early Medieval to XXI - 1066 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

Polwhele, R., 1793-1806, The History of Devonshire (Monograph). SDV21030.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Culmstock Beacon' marked on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey Map.

Elworthy, F. T., 1892, Unknown (Article in Serial). SDV336610.

Ancient Monuments, 1920, Culmstock Beacon (Schedule Document). SDV336599.

Believed to be medieval, but circa 1870 it was "fallen abroad". Rebuilt using same materials and in good condition in 1920. Russell suggests an Elizabethan origin. Donn's map of 1765 shows it as 'Black Down Beacon'. Shaped like a beehive in stone; facing south is a low doorway and there is a circular opening in the roof about one metre across. Two loops in the wall and some narrow ledges which Dr Gibbens suggests lodged the ends of firebars. Sketched in P. O. Hutchinson's manuscript 'History of Sidmouth'. Other details: Site visit 1920.

Russell, P., 1955, Fire Beacons in Devon, 290 (Article in Serial). SDV336138.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1962, ST11NW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV336600.

A structure which accords to measurements and description given by Russell. This may be of more recent origin than that shown on Donn's map, for the site of another circular structure is visible a little to the north (See PRN 11532).

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1975, ST11NW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV336601.

Structure in good condition. Site of second structure remains clearly visible.

Holmes, M. E., 1980, Culmstock Beacon (Worksheet). SDV336602.

A circular beehive hut, approx 8ft internal diameter and 11ft high, built of random chert. Walls 2ft thick, hole in roof 3ft across. Doorway in south side. Slit windows in east and west sides. Holes inside, about 1ft above ground. Other details: Sketch.

Unknown, 1986, Culmstock Beacon (Worksheet). SDV336604.

English Heritage, 1988, Culmstock (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV336606.

Culmstock Beacon. Warning beacon. Medieval or 16th century origins but rebuilt after a collapse in 1870. Local stone rubble. Small beehive shaped building. Circular in plan the walls rise to a slightly projecting eaves under the rounded roof. There is a low flat-headed doorway to south and a circular opening in the roof approximately 1m across. There are also two loops in the walls and some narrow internal ledges which are thought to have lodged the fire bars. This is marked on Donn's map of Devon of 1765 as 'Black Down Beacon'. Source: Devon HER. Other details: LBS 95891.

1992, Untitled Source (Photograph). SDV336611.

Other details: Slide and b/w print film 3036, 18-21.

Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit, 1992 - 1993, Blackdown Hills Survey Archive (Archive - Survey). SDV324187.

Beam slots present in the inside face of the wall some 20cm above the present floor level.

May, J., 1993, Culmstock Beacon (Worksheet). SDV336605.

Beacon hut in good condition. No sign of burning inside. Surrounded by a low bank of stones, with break near south entrance. Between bank and the hut is an area of dark green grass.

Devon County Council, 2000, Fire Beacons: Warning Signals across the Countryside (Monograph). SDV320945.

Bodman, M., 2006, Culmstock Beacon (Personal Comment). SDV336607.

GeoGraph description of Culmstock Beacon. This stone hut stands 250m above sea level, close to a triangulation pillar, on the edge of the Blackdown Hills. It partially enclosed a pole-beacon which was a communications signal ready for use when the Spanish Armada was sighted in the English Channel in 1588. This is possibly the only beacon hut in the country to survive in its original form. It linked with others at Holcombe Rogus, Upottery and Blackborough.

Unknown, c1913, Unknown (Article in Serial). SDV336608.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV21030Monograph: Polwhele, R.. 1793-1806. The History of Devonshire. The History of Devonshire. Unknown.
SDV320945Monograph: Devon County Council. 2000. Fire Beacons: Warning Signals across the Countryside. Fire Beacons: Warning Signals across the Countryside. A4 Unbound.
SDV324187Archive - Survey: Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit. 1992 - 1993. Blackdown Hills Survey Archive. Blackdown Hills Survey Archive. A4 Unbound.
SDV336138Article in Serial: Russell, P.. 1955. Fire Beacons in Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 87. A5 Hardback. 290.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336599Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1920. Culmstock Beacon. Unknown.
SDV336600Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1962. ST11NW5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV336601Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1975. ST11NW5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV336602Worksheet: Holmes, M. E.. 1980. Culmstock Beacon. Worksheet.
SDV336604Worksheet: Unknown. 1986. Culmstock Beacon. Worksheet.
SDV336605Worksheet: May, J.. 1993. Culmstock Beacon. Worksheet.
SDV336606List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 1988. Culmstock. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV336607Personal Comment: Bodman, M.. 2006. Culmstock Beacon. Printout.
SDV336608Article in Serial: Unknown. c1913. Unknown. Tiverton Gazette. Unknown.
SDV336610Article in Serial: Elworthy, F. T.. 1892. Unknown. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. Unknown. Unknown.
SDV336611Photograph: 1992. Photograph (Paper).
SDV339321Un-published: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1848-1894. Diaries. Devon Record Office Collection. Manuscript.

Associated Monuments

MDV1471Related to: BEACON in the Parish of Holcombe Rogus (Monument)
MDV1425Related to: BEACON in the Parish of Kentisbeare (Monument)
MDV1907Related to: BEACON in the Parish of Upottery (Monument)
MDV11532Related to: Former beacon site, north of Culmstock Beacon, Culmstock (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4001 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV4002 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV4003 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV4004 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV4005 - Blackdown Hills Survey
  • EDV4006 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV4007 - GeoGraph

Date Last Edited:Aug 17 2006 11:43AM