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HER Number:MDV749
Name:Hillfort north to Stonehill Copse, Queen's Nympton


A slight univallate hillfort of triangular plan of probable iron age or medieval date, consists of a broad rampart broadened and lowered by ploughing which has obliterated the entrance. The site can be seen on the 1947 Royal Air Force photograph.


Grid Reference:SS 712 224
Map Sheet:SS72SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishQueen's Nympton
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSOUTH MOLTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS72SW/3
  • Old SAM County Ref: 652
  • Old SAM Ref: 28623
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS72SW 1

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1905, 22SW (Cartographic). SDV335696.

'Camp' shown to north of Stonehill Copse.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 610 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Irregular camp consisting of a broad rampart broadened and lowered by ploughing which has obliterated the entrance. Other details: Plan.

Carbonell, B. M. H., 1931, The Nymet area, 298 (Article in Serial). SDV44635.

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1980/3066, 3066 (Aerial Photograph). SDV60980.

The 1947 Royal Air Force photograph shows the site clearly but in a very ploughed down condition. The bank is very broad. Other details: HER 13/133.

Ministry of Public Building and Works, 1968, Camp North of Stonehill Copse (Schedule Document). SDV343312.

A roughly triangular camp, probably Iron Age, measuring about 200 feet east to west and 350 feet north to south, and lying near one end of a field of pasture on top of a hill. The single bank has been ploughed-down to about 1 foot and no ditch is visible. The interior forms a platform slightly higher than the rest of the field.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1970 - 1971, SS72SW1 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV60979.

An unusual earthwork of triangular plan enclosing half an acre on flat high ground. Formed by a bank and ditch with unsurveyable traces of a counter scarp bank along east side. Whole is much ploughed down but a simple causewayed entrance is discernible near north-east corner. It is not a 'camp' and doubtfully Iron Age. Breadth of rampart and ditch suggest fortification rather than agricultural enclosure and it is conjecturally a minor baronial castle site. Research into medieval ownership might give some lead since Queen's Nympton parish seems never to have had any nucleated settlement and today contains eight scattered farms and houses. Other details: Plan, section.

Road Construction Unit, 1975, North Devon Link Road 2, 7098, 7099 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343300.

There is no trace at all of this on 1976 photo, the field is under crop.

Silvester, R. J. + Higham, R. A., 1980, Domestic Enclosures of Probable Medieval Date, 63-65 (Article in Serial). SDV55518.

Other details: Map.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV60981.

Site visit 1st July 1984. Field locally called Castle Field. A ditch is still visible all around but the rampart is very ploughed down. Under plough at present but the owner says its condition is stable, since the war ploughing no longer reduces the bank or fills the ditch. Slight trace of the 'counterscarp' to the east survives. A Cortex flake was found but the field has been limed.

Wilson-North, R., 1995, Earthwork Survey of a Probable Minor Castle in Queen's Nympton Parish (Report - Survey). SDV60984.

Roughly triangular area 50 metres by 23 metres encircled by a broad ditch (0.4 metres deep). The remains of an internal bank are visible on the inner lip of the ditch, whilst a spread external bank is visible along the entire perimeter. On the eastern arm of the ditch, a slight causeway gives access to the interior. At the north-west corner of the enclosure is a low mound which might mark a former tower. The complex form of the earthwork combined with the relatively small size of the enclosure, suggests that the site is unlikely to be prehistoric. It is best interpreted as a minor baronial castle or fortification, although it does not appear to be documented, and was classed as 'dubious' by Higham. Other details: Plan, 1:5000.

The George Nympton History Project, 1995, George Nympton: A Devon Parish and its People, 2 (Pamphlet). SDV319747.

Department of National Heritage, 1996, Hillfort 400 Metres North-west of Woodhouse (Schedule Document). SDV343316.

A slight univallate hillfort which is situated slightly to the west of the highest point on the top of a prominent hill. It overlooks the valleys of the Rivers Mole and Crooked Oak, and also the confluence of the Rivers Mole and Bray and the settlements of George Nympton to the north-west and Alswear to the east-south-east where the major river crossing is located.

Gerrard, H., 1996, Hillfort 410 Metres North of Stonehill Copse, 139576 (Un-published). SDV343315.

Site visit 10/11/1995. Hillfort survives as an irregular enclosure with a ditch and an outer rampart. Central enclosed area measures 63 metres north-west to south-east, 34 metres wide at its widest from west-south-west to east-north-east and 22.6 metres wide from west to east at its narrowest. Within the central enclosed area there is a 4 metre wide and up to 0.3 metre high bank which extends around the north, west and east sides but this peters out to the south. In the north-west corner is a further raised area, roughly oval and measuring 5.5 metres by 4 metres by up to 0.45 metres high. The whole internal area creates a slightly raised platform above the height of the surrounding field. Beyond the bank is a ditch, which to the west is 5.8 metres wide and 0.6 metres deep. To the north the ditch is 5.4 metres wide and 0.3 metres deep and on the east side it is 7.5 metres wide and 0.3 metres deep. Outside the ditch is an outer rampart which is best preserved as a bank on the north-east, east and west sides, downslope to the south it peters out to form a lynchet, and it also peters out in the north-west corner. The max width of the bank is 7.8 metres and it attains a height of up to 0.6 metres. The National Archaeological Record considers this earthwork to be the site of an undocumented Medieval minor baronial castle or fortification. The reasons for offering this reinterpretation on the site appear to relate to the size of the earthwork combined with what they consider to be the complex nature of the earthwork. Higham and the Monument Protection Programme field warden both consider this fresh interpretation to be dubious and until further work is carried out these earthworks would seem to fit the hillfort explanation better.

English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West, 104 (Report - non-specific). SDV342694.

Extensive significant problems. Principal vulnerability arable ploughing.

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

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

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

Extensive significant problems. Declining. Principal vulnerability arable ploughing.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV319747Pamphlet: The George Nympton History Project. 1995. George Nympton: A Devon Parish and its People. North Devon Community Publications. A5 Paperback. 2.
SDV335696Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1905. 22SW. 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. 610.
SDV341569Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2009. MasterMap. MasterMap. Digital.
SDV342694Report - non-specific: English Heritage. 2009. Heritage at Risk Register 2009: South West. English Heritage Report. A4 Bound +Digital. 104.
SDV343300Aerial Photograph: Road Construction Unit. 1975. North Devon Link Road 2. North Devon Link Road. Unknown. 7098, 7099.
SDV343312Schedule Document: Ministry of Public Building and Works. 1968. Camp North of Stonehill Copse. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV343315Un-published: Gerrard, H.. 1996. Hillfort 410 Metres North of Stonehill Copse. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Digital. 139576.
SDV343316Schedule Document: Department of National Heritage. 1996. Hillfort 400 Metres North-west of Woodhouse. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
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.
SDV44635Article in Serial: Carbonell, B. M. H.. 1931. The Nymet area. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 63. A5 Hardback. 298.
SDV55518Article in Serial: Silvester, R. J. + Higham, R. A.. 1980. Domestic Enclosures of Probable Medieval Date. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 38. Paperback Volume. 63-65.
SDV60979Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1970 - 1971. SS72SW1. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV60980Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1980/3066. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3066.
SDV60981Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1984.
SDV60984Report - Survey: Wilson-North, R.. 1995. Earthwork Survey of a Probable Minor Castle in Queen's Nympton Parish. A4 Stapled.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV206 - Site Visit to Earthwork in Queen's Nympton Parish
  • EDV207 - Survey of Earthwork in Queen's Nympton Parish
  • EDV208 - Monument Protection Programme

Date Last Edited:Jun 25 2019 4:34PM