HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV48
Name:Embury Beacon Fort

Summary

An Iron Age promontory fort with double defences, the inner work much reduced by cliff falls. Pottery found during excavation in the 1970s was mainly late Glastonbury ware dated to the Late Iron Age. Earthwork banks are visible on aerial photographs from the 1940s and on the ground.

Location

Grid Reference:SS 216 194
Map Sheet:SS21NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishHartland
DistrictTorridge
Ecclesiastical ParishHARTLAND

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • MORPH: DE.121.22.1
  • National Monuments Record: NMR/ 5
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS21NW/501
  • Old SAM County Ref: 169
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS21NW5

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Ministry of Works, Embury Beacon Camp (Schedule Document). SDV341221.

A cliff castle.


National Monuments Record, SS2119 (Aerial Photograph). SDV7944.


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

Site marked as 'Embury Beacon', 'Embury Parlour' and 'Camp (Remains of)' on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey map.


Ordnance Survey, 1906, 26NE & 27NW (Cartographic). SDV335711.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 576-577 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

On a projecting cliff on the west coast. Stronghold of double defences, the inner work has been much reduced by cliff fall. Good description given together with plan and section of fort. Other details: Plan. Section.


Ordnance Survey, 1907, 26SE (Cartographic). SDV335710.


Allcroft, A. H., 1908, Earthwork of England, 54 (Monograph). SDV11975.

The site is described and illustrated by Allcroft. He observes there is now no visible means of access to the inner enclosure, and so some must be lost to the sea. Other details: Plan.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/3G/TUD/UK/158/5132 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343734.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/3G/TUD/UK/158/5133 (Aerial Photograph). SDV7941.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1793, NMR RAF/CPE/UK/1793 3008-3009 12-OCT-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV349050.

The enclosure is visible as earthwork banks with internal/attached features.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1951 - 1977, SS21NW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV7943.

1. Detail on Ordnance Survey 1907 6 inch map appears to show a defensive earthwork making use of the natural cliff on one side.
2. Excavated in 1972-1973 because of rapid coastal erosion. The mound between the ramparts is given as a barrow by Grinsell (Hartland 13A) but excavation proved this to be an entrance work.
3. Surveyed in 1977. Other details: Plans and Sections.


Russell, P., 1955, Fire Beacons in Devon, 277 (Article in Serial). SDV336138.

Victoria County History has plan of hillfort. Mound 3 feet high just outside central vallum may be a beacon site; 515 feet above sea level.


Cambridge University, 1970, CUC/BAM, 1-12 (Aerial Photograph). SDV7950.

Other details: No 12 in Historic Environment Record.


Grinsell, L. V., 1970, The Barrows of North Devon, 121 (Article in Serial). SDV7849.


Jeffries, J. S., 1974, An Excavation at the Coastal Promontory Fort of Embury Beacon, Devon, 136-156 (Article in Serial). SDV7939.

Iron Age promontory fort excavated because of rapid coastal erosion. Inner rampart is a bank of simple construction, unrevetted with material derived from the ditch. Four post holes found on the crest but none along rest of its length. The only remains of the entrance is a short portion of its barbican rampart and associated V-shaped ditch. Outer rampart bank contained scatter of large stones and may have been revetted with stones which have collapsed into ditch. In interior 19 post holes, 3 stake holes, 2 hearths and a gully found in the surviving part within the inner bank. In the intervallum space the only features found were a possible foundation on the undisturbed bedrock and a possible pond or water trough. No finds were made in the ditch sections. The pottery was mainly late Glastonbury ware of the Late Iron Age, being associated with post holes sealed by bank spill. Beach pebbles found all over site in topsoil, 36 found together inside the inner rampart were probably slingstones. Inner rampart, before excavation, 2.2 metres high, ditch 1.4 metres deep. Outer rampart 1.5 metres high, 6.5 metres wide. Barbican rampart ditch 1.9 metres deep, 7.0 metres wide. Intervallum foundation 4.5 metres long, 1.0 metres wide. Other details: Illustration.


Cambridge University, 1974, CUC/BRM, 55, 58 (Aerial Photograph). SDV7949.


Hogg, A. H. A., 1979, British Hillforts: An Index, 191 (Monograph). SDV7953.


Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology, 1979 - 1981, North Devon Barrow Survey (Archive - Survey). SDV341310.

Other details: ND 42.


Weston, S., 1982, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV7946.


Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/HM, 4-6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV7955.


Griffith, F. M., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 44 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Embury Beacon, is known as a 'promontory fort' since it occupies a piece of land projecting into the sea, Embury, constructed on cliffs of the slates and shales of the Hartland Peninsula has been hard hit by coastal erosion over the years, and all that can now be seen are the outer (inland) rampart, with a complex entrance, and a short section of the inner (seaward) rampart. It has been estimated that three-quarters of the original area of the site has been lost, and this includes virtually all the actual occupation area within the inner rampart. Details of excavation findings given.


Griffith, F. M., 1990, DAP/TC, 1,2 (Aerial Photograph). SDV7959.


Hamilton, D., 1991, Embury Beacon Fort (Camp) (Worksheet). SDV7952.

Site visit 17th August 1991. Erosion continues, with very little of the inner enclosure area remaining. A small section (42 metres) of inner enclosure ditch and bank remains, as does 180 metres of outer enclosure, including main entrance which now lies 30 metres from northern cliff edge. Inner bank 2 metres high, ditch 1.5 metres deep. Outer bank 1.2 metres high, ditch circa 0.3 metres deep (partially infilled by non-current ploughing). The original entrance to the outer enclosure is 4 metres wide with knobbed ends to the banks. A modified 'tutulus' feature appears outside the entrance with a second bank and infilled ditch running around the outer enclosure to the north, where it terminates near the cliff edge. Coastal footpath now runs through the site. Other details: Plan.


Horner, B., 1991, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV7951.

Site visit on 12th November 1991 with F. M. Griffith. Coastal erosion active but site not significantly diminished since 1986 aerial photograph was taken. Slight sheep poaching on crest of inner rampart. Outer rampart subject to erosion by walkers, and/or sheep, at circa SS21621941 and SS21741956 where coastal path crosses ramparts. Repair strategy devised, Camp interior and outer rampart increasingly gorse covered. At some time in the recent past wooden steps have been inserted into the outer face of the outer rampart at circa SS21621941 but these are now overgrown.


Horner, B., 1995, DAP/YV, 28-35 (Aerial Photograph). SDV7961.


Grant, N., 1995, The Occupation of Hillforts in Devon during the Late Roman and Post Roman Periods, 103 (Article in Serial). SDV7954.


Griffith, F. M., 1996, DAP/AAO, 4-6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV7962.


Cross, A. E., 1996, Embury Beacon Camp (Un-published). SDV341226.

Fencing around outer rampart completed. Area cleared of scrub. Ditch and outer rampart now more easily discerned. No winter falls.


Fox, A., 1996, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, 34 (Monograph). SDV7958.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1997, Embury Beacon, Hartland, 1 (Report - Survey). SDV325680.

Embury Beacon Fort was surveyed in 1997 when the surviving elements suggested a multiple enclosure fort with a maritime function rather than an Iron Age promontory fort. A tumulus and an alleged beacon were associated with the earthworks. Other details: Figures 1-9.


Quinnell, H., 1998, Later Prehistoric Pottery Survey (Report - Survey). SDV336212.

Circa 20 sherds of mid/late Iron Age pot recovered during rescue excavation. Also crucible, stone whorl and flint. Now in Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Other details: DBID:1422.


Cornwall County Council, 2002, Cornwall National Mapping Programme (Archive - Survey). SDV350748.

A curvilinear asymmetric enclosure (incomplete) defined by 3 banks, 200m by 75m (1 entrance to the E visible). Internal/attached features present. Much lost to erosion - may originally have been a hilltop enclosure. Visible as earthworks on aerial photographs of 1946.


Whitbourn, A., 2004, Embury Beacon (Correspondence). SDV358835.


Whitbourn, A. + Whitbourn, T., 2004, Untitled Source, Photos (Correspondence). SDV7963.

Recent erosion shown on photos of 'Embury Beacon' taken in 2003. The seaward rampart appears to have eroded since 1988. The crest is now on the cliff edge revealing the stratigraphy of the rampart.


Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J., 2007, The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report, No. 261 (Report - Assessment). SDV339712.

Embury Beacon Iron Age promontory fort. Excavated early 1970s due to extensive coastal erosion. Estimated 0.75% of original area has been lost including occupation area within inner rampart.


English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 115 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Generally satisfactory but with minor localised problems. Principal vulnerability coastal erosion.


English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West, 108 (Report - non-specific). SDV344777.


English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West, 114 (Report - non-specific). SDV355280.

Generally satisfactory but with minor localised problems. Principal vulnerability coastal erosion. Declining.


AC Archaeology, 2013, Embury Beacon Summary - August 2013, 1-2 (Report - non-specific). SDV351944.

At Embury all of the ramparts, the inner, outer and outwork were constructed in the dump style typical of the Middle Iron Age. No evidence of box rampart construction was found in ours or the earlier excavations. Both the 1970s and recent excavations have shown that the entrances are not simple types and are more elaborate than those usually found on promontory or multiple enclosure type forts locally. Both the inner and outer entrances at Embury, despite both having losses to erosion, are perhaps best described as the overlapping type where the entrance is in line with the earthworks rather than going straight through them. The recent excavations have shown that in the outer rampart this is clearly a modification to the simpler straight through entrance type. See report for full details.


Ordnance Survey, 2015, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV357601.


Grant, M. J. + Sturt, F. + Dix, J., 2015, Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Phase One Desk-Based Assessment for South-West England: North Coast of Devon (excluding Exmoor) and North Coast of Cornwall: Project Design, Fig 7 (Un-published). SDV358399.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 54.
SDV325680Report - Survey: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1997. Embury Beacon, Hartland. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1.
SDV335710Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1907. 26SE. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV335711Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1906. 26NE & 27NW. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV336138Article in Serial: Russell, P.. 1955. Fire Beacons in Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 87. A5 Hardback. 277.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336212Report - Survey: Quinnell, H.. 1998. Later Prehistoric Pottery Survey. Later Prehistoric Pottery Survey. A4 Spiral Bound.
SDV339712Report - Assessment: Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J.. 2007. The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report. Exeter Archaeology Report. 06.22 (rev.1). A4 Stapled + Digital. No. 261.
SDV341221Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. Embury Beacon Camp. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV341226Un-published: Cross, A. E.. 1996. Embury Beacon Camp. The National Trust Archaeological Site Monitoring Surveillance Report. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV341310Archive - Survey: Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology. 1979 - 1981. North Devon Barrow Survey. Devon Barrow Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 576-577.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 115.
SDV343734Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/3G/TUD/UK/158/5132. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV344777Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2010. Heritage at Risk Register 2010: South West. English Heritage Report. Digital. 108.
SDV349050Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1793. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR RAF/CPE/UK/1793 3008-3009 12-OCT-1946.
SDV350748Archive - Survey: Cornwall County Council. 2002. Cornwall National Mapping Programme.
SDV351944Report - non-specific: AC Archaeology. 2013. Embury Beacon Summary - August 2013. AC Archaeology Report. Digital. 1-2.
SDV355280Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2011. Heritage at Risk Register 2011: South West. english Heritage. Digital. 114.
SDV357601Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2015. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #93086 ]
SDV358399Un-published: Grant, M. J. + Sturt, F. + Dix, J.. 2015. Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey Phase One Desk-Based Assessment for South-West England: North Coast of Devon (excluding Exmoor) and North Coast of Cornwall: Project Design. University of Southampton. Digital. Fig 7.
SDV358835Correspondence: Whitbourn, A.. 2004. Embury Beacon. Postcard. Postcard + Digital.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 44.
SDV7849Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1970. The Barrows of North Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 28. A5 Paperback. 121.
SDV7939Article in Serial: Jeffries, J. S.. 1974. An Excavation at the Coastal Promontory Fort of Embury Beacon, Devon. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. 40. Hardback Volume + Digital. 136-156.
SDV7941Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/3G/TUD/UK/158/5133. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV7943Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1951 - 1977. SS21NW5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV7944Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. SS2119. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Unknown.
SDV7946Correspondence: Weston, S.. 1982. Department of Environment Field Monument Warden Visit. Letter.
SDV7949Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1974. CUC/BRM. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Unknown. 55, 58.
SDV7950Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1970. CUC/BAM. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper) + Digital (Scan). 1-12.
SDV7951Personal Comment: Horner, B.. 1991.
SDV7952Worksheet: Hamilton, D.. 1991. Embury Beacon Fort (Camp). Worksheet + Digital.
SDV7953Monograph: Hogg, A. H. A.. 1979. British Hillforts: An Index. British Hill-forts: An Index. 62. Unknown. 191.
SDV7954Article in Serial: Grant, N.. 1995. The Occupation of Hillforts in Devon during the Late Roman and Post Roman Periods. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 53. Paperback Volume. 103.
SDV7955Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/HM. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4-6.
SDV7958Monograph: Fox, A.. 1996. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Paperback Volume. 34.
SDV7959Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1990. DAP/TC. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1,2.
SDV7961Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1995. DAP/YV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 28-35.
SDV7962Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1996. DAP/AAO. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4-6.
SDV7963Correspondence: Whitbourn, A. + Whitbourn, T.. 2004. Letter + Photos. Letter + Digital. Photos.

Associated Monuments

MDV49Parent of: Embury Beacon, Hartland (Monument)
MDV16464Related to: Barrow or Outwork at Embury Beacon, Hartland (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV315 - Site visit to Embury Beacon Fort, Hartland
  • EDV316 - Field Monument Warden Site Visit to Embury Beacon, Hartland
  • EDV3809 - Royal Air Force Aerial Photo of Embury Beacon Camp, Hartland
  • EDV3812 - Aerial photo of Embury Beacon Fort, Hartland
  • EDV3813 - Aerial Photo of Embury Beacon Fort, Hartland
  • EDV3814 - Aerial Photo of Embury Beacon Fort, Hartland
  • EDV3815 - Aerial Photo of Embury Beacon Fort, Hartland.
  • EDV3816 - Aerial Photo of Embury Beacon Fort, Hartland.

Date Last Edited:Jul 29 2015 10:05AM