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HER Number:MDV1970
Name:Stoke or Beara Castle, Stoke Rivers


Small univallate hillfort, with well defined bank and ditch. Crossed by road east to west, which possibly passes through original entrance on west side.


Grid Reference:SS 649 356
Map Sheet:SS63NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishStoke Rivers
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSTOKE RIVERS

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS63NW/12
  • Old SAM County Ref: 458
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS63NW4

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Woollcombe, H., 1839-1850, Woollcombe Manuscript (Un-published). SDV16214.

Site visit circa 1840. Bank circa 10 feet high. Under cultivation. Other details: Plan.

Ordnance Survey, 1905, 10SW (Cartographic). SDV335637.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 611 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Other details: Plan.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1655/3265 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343333.

Other details: HER 8/24.

Ministry of Works, 1961, Camp South of Birch Ham Wood (Schedule Document). SDV343327.

Fine example of a small univallate hill fort. Bank and ditch well defined 6 to 8 feet high, counterscarp 1.5 feet high. Interned entrance on east. Crossed by a road. Earthworks have been cultivated except for the segment on south-west. Grass. Other details: Map.

Fox, A., 1963, Twenty-Seventh Report On Archaeology and Early History, 81 (Article in Serial). SDV124457.

Visited by C Whybrow in November 1962. Stoke or Beara Castle, an Iron Age hillfort. Within sight of the other Iron Age enclosures at Mockham Down (SS667358), Shoulsbury castle (SS705391), and Smythapark (SS636685). Excavated by Water Authority when laying mains. A mass of unshaped stones nearby must have been the inner edge of the rampart, they may represent revetment at one side of the gateway, but proper excavation is necessary to confirm this. On the west side of the camp, a clear cut line in the soil running down at a steep angle marked the outer edge of the ditch. A layer of burnt material was discovered on what appeared to be an old ground level now 460-500 millimetres below the surface, but this may be modern. The waterboard trench rarely reached ground level except perhaps at the west side. From the slight evidence seen it appears that a berm 0.9-1.2 metres in width separated rampart and ditch. No small finds were made, but sherds of late medieval pottery and flint flakes have been found within the fort, probably imported with dung or lime.

Grinsell, L. V., 1970, The Archaeology of Exmoor, 78, 82, 201 (Monograph). SDV1641.

Visited June 1969. The site is all under grass. The rampart is still about 2 metres high on the south-west sector. The road probably passes through the original entrance on the west side, and crosses over the rampart on the east.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1973 - 1977, SS63NW4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV343325.

Site visit 23rd November 1953. A near circular enclosure situated on a ridge which slopes fairly steeply to the north and south and gently to the east, whilst the land to the west is fairly level. The earthwork, which is biscected by a modern road running east to west, consists of a strong bank with a weak outer ditch. On the south-west side a modern hedgebank has been constructed upon the bank of the earthwork, the inner slopes having been obliterated and only faint but unsurveyable traces of the outer ditch remain in the field which is under the plough. The remainder of the earthwork is under pasture. There is no trace of entrances but the logical topographic position would be along the top of the ridgeway, where the road cuts into the enclosure.
Site visit 17th July 1973. The well sited defended settlement which is probably Iron Age is as described. A pronounced rise in the road on the east side indicates the course of the rampart, but there is no corresponding rise on the west side. The names Stoke or Beara Castle probably derive from Stoke Beara, which was formerly the farm for this area. Generally well preserved. Other details: Plans.

National Monuments Record, 1979, SS6435, 1507/347 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343330.

Aerial photograph appears to show the site much reduced by cultivation.

Earwood, C., 1984, Beara Castle (Worksheet). SDV343328.

Description from Woollcombe manuscript. Circular, 130 yards diameter, on summit of hill, bank still 10 feet high with ditch. Under cultivation and ditch becoming silted. Cut by road, west to east.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV343332.

Site visit 17th June 1984. Site still clearly visible from road for all its circumference. Bank and ditch still clearly apparent on outside, though ploughing has rendered inner side of bank almost level with interior.

Devon County Council, 1987, DAP/HZ, 7-9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343331.

Griffith, F. M., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 42 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Stoke or Beara Castle is an univallate enclosure sited on the top of a gentle rise. Observations made when a pipe-trench was cut through the site demonstrated the presence of a berm about one metre wide between the rampart and the ditch; no trace of this can be seen on the surface. Although the hedge that once outlined the whole circuit of the rampart has in part been removed, the line of the rampart is still visible as an earthwork. Where the road crosses the rampart it may be seen to rise up slightly; this is particularly evident on a visit to the site. On a country road such as this, where the construction of the road probably did not involve deep earth-moving, the road simply rides over the top of the bank.

Walls, T., 1999 - 2000, Earthwork Enclosures in North-East Devon and Their Late Prehistoric Landscape (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV341596.

Visited 16th February 2000. Large hilltop enclosure bisected by road, which could be ancient ridgeway. Associated with Mockham Down, road leading east from Beara continues as a straight line of field boundaries, indicating track probably existed along this line.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2004, Proposed Works at Camp South of Birch Ham Wood, Stoke Rivers (Correspondence). SDV343329.

Scheduled monument consent granted for works concerning the excavation of a 2 metres by 1 metre hole for the purpose of rehabilitating a 3 inch cast water main.

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 105 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Generally satisfactory but with minor localised problems.

Ordnance Survey, 2009, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV341569.

English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 97 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.

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

English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 102 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Generally satisfactory but with minor localised problems. Declining.

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

SDV124457Article in Serial: Fox, A.. 1963. Twenty-Seventh Report On Archaeology and Early History. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 95. A5 Paperback. 81.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV1641Monograph: Grinsell, L. V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. A5 Hardback. 78, 82, 201.
SDV335637Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1905. 10SW. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 611.
SDV341569Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2009. MasterMap. MasterMap. Digital.
SDV341596Post-Graduate Thesis: Walls, T.. 1999 - 2000. Earthwork Enclosures in North-East Devon and Their Late Prehistoric Landscape. University of Bristol Thesis. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 105.
SDV343325Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1973 - 1977. SS63NW4. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV343327Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1961. Camp South of Birch Ham Wood. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV343328Worksheet: Earwood, C.. 1984. Beara Castle. Devon County Sites and Monuments Register. Worksheet.
SDV343329Correspondence: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2004. Proposed Works at Camp South of Birch Ham Wood, Stoke Rivers. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. A4 Stapled.
SDV343330Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1979. SS6435. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1507/347.
SDV343331Aerial Photograph: Devon County Council. 1987. DAP/HZ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7-9.
SDV343332Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1984.
SDV343333Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1655/3265. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #82574 ]
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 97.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 102.
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.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 42.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jun 28 2018 11:17AM