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HER Number:MDV7601
Name:Blackdown Rings

Summary

Blackdown or Loddiswell Rings a Prehistoric hillfort on Blackdown Hill with a Medieval castle in the north-west corner

Location

Grid Reference:SX 720 520
Map Sheet:SX75SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishLoddiswell
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishLODDISWELL

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 444690
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX75SW/5
  • Old SAM County Ref: 30
  • Old SAM Ref: 24853
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX75SW4

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.

Irregular oval, bank and ditch with openings in east and west sides and northwest corner. Double bank on east and south-east either side of entrance. Inside north-west entrance is bank and mound. Height of banks circa 20 feet from ditch. Inner ditch circa 30 feet.


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

'The Rings (Blackdown Camp) (Remains of)' shown on 19th century map surrounded by a 'Fosse' with a 'Keep' in the north-west corner.


Elliott, E. A. S., 1901, On Some Earthworks in the South Hams Probably Concerned in the Irishmen's Raid, 475-483 (Article in Serial). SDV321206.

Loddiswell Rings. Outer rampart encloses about 10 acres. Entrance on west. Ten small mounds, perhaps graves, outside ramparts.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 618-9 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Other details: Figure 617.


Allcroft, A. H., 1908, Earthwork of England, 407,410,420 (Monograph). SDV11975.

Other details: Plan.


Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1931, The Place-Names of Devon: Part One, 306 (Monograph). SDV1312.

The first reference to Blackdown Hill occurs in 1546 as 'Blakedoune'.


Royal Air Force, 1946, CPE/UK 1890 (Aerial Photograph). SDV140289.

Other details: DCC Number 57-58.


Cambridge University, 1949, CUC/CF, 40-43 (Aerial Photograph). SDV342760.

aerial photograph of site from the west taken in June 1949 shows interior under crop and possible ditch features outside Iron Age defences on west. Other details: CF 41 in HER.


Fox, A., 1952, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV346496.

The site known as 'The Rings' comprises a univallate enclosure or hillfort. The hillfort has been attributed to the Early Iron Age a strategic site in relation to the Avon valley, also on a through route. Other details: Note and Sketch.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952 - 1961, SX75SW4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV346494.

Backdown Camp or Loddiswell Rings is a large Early Iron Age hillfort, within which was built a 12th century ring motte and bailey castle which was apparently never finished. Other details: Plan, Sections.


Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon (Monograph). SDV17562.

Hoskins refers to it as lying "just east of the great ridgeway from the moor down to the sea". The site has extensive views over the surrounding countryside, especially along the Avon valley, and also to the east.


Copeland, G. W., 1965, Proceedings at the 103rd Annual Meeting, 30 (Article in Serial). SDV145408.


Department of Environment, 1976, Untitled Source (Correspondence). SDV346498.

Payment scheme agreed with owner/occupier.


Department of Environment, 1981, The Rings (Schedule Document). SDV346492.

The Rings locally called Loddiswell Rings or Blackdown Camp. Fine 'Mount and Bailey' Norman Castle in good condition which was Scheduled in June 1923.
An Iron Age hillfort with a motte and bailey in the north-west angle. The original entrance from the ridgeway is on the upper west side screened by an outwork. Lower side entrance, probably Norman, and recently widened. Interior ploughed. A screening short length of bank and ditch on the south-west. Other details: Monument 30.


Higham, R. A., 1981, Untitled Source, 77-8 (Monograph). SDV64195.

Large Iron Age enclosure with Medieval earthwork in corner. Other details: In DCC, Plan, Figure 8.5.


Griffith, F. M., 1983, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV346495.

Site visited on 21st May 1983. Still in excellent condition, except for some poaching by stock on the earthworks of the inner bailey in wet conditions. In good condition outside, various earthwork features noted. In particular, the presence of hollow ways leading to each of the present entrance gaps may suggest that both are of considerable antiquity if not original. Both entrance gaps have been widened in the fairly recent past.


Robinson, R., 1984, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1984 (Un-published). SDV343082.

Field Monument Warden visit on 13th April 1984.


Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/FW, 1-6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV147956.


Griffith, F. M., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 74 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Loddiswell Rings. The site has never been subjected to excavation, so statements about its date and purpose are based on interpretation of the field evidence alone. This suggests that we are looking at a monument of two main periods: its form and situation imply that it was originally an Iron Age hillfort, defended by a bank and ditch with counterscarp bank on the outside. Subsequently at the Norman conquest, a castle was constructed within the enclosure, making use of the hillfort defences to serve as an outer bailey.


Wilson-North, W. R. + Dunn, C. J., 1990, 'The Rings'. Loddiswell: A New Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 87-100 (Article in Serial). SDV346504.


Born, A., 1991, Blackdown Rings, Loddiswell (Article in Serial). SDV346505.


Devon County Council, 1991, Blackdown Rings, Loddiswell (Leaflet). SDV346502.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1991, The Rings, Loddiswell (Report - Survey). SDV346497.

The earthworks on Blackdown Hill were surveyed at 1:1000 scale in 1990. The first known depiction of the monument appears in the scrapbook of William Chapple, 1752. He describes the monument as "a Danish work". His plan shows the hillfort with two entrances and an "L"-shaped outwork on the west side. Marked "Camp" on 1803-4 map. Woollcombe (1839) describes the site as in "a state of considerable perfection". Marked on 1886 and 1906 maps. The defences consist of a bank 1.2 to 1.7 metres high with an external ditch over 2 metres deep in places. The southern part of the circuit is the most clearly defined and best preserved, consisting of inner scarp, steep outer scarp with possible traces of revetment, a narrow ledge of circa 1 metre width with a sharp scarp down to the ditch bottom. The ditch is narrow and flat bottomed and beyond are traces of a counter-scarp bank which at best survives to 0.3 metres high. The rampart increases in height at the entrances. The northern part of the circuit is more substantial, the rampart 1.7 metres high, with the ditch less sharply defined but broader and a slight counterscarp bank 0.3 metres high on the north, 0.4 metres on the west and 0.8 metres on the east where it may be an elaboration around the eastern entrance. There has also been random stone digging and World War II slit trenches dug on the site. There are two opposing entrances through the hillfort, on the west and on the east, both have been widened from circa 6 metres to circa 10 metres this century. The western entrance is a simple gap. The eastern entrance is more complex with inturned ramparts and possible outworks. The eastern entrance is original, the west is not so clear. A gap in the southern rampart, approached from the south-west by a holloway and a causeway across the ditch may also be an original entrance. The defences enclose more than 2 hecatres. There are traces of narrow ridge and furrow and redundant field boundaries in the interior. A sub-rectangular platform between the castle bailey and the hillfort rampart on the west is depicted as an enclosure by Chapple. It is possibly an animal pen or a ruined building related to the Post Medieval field system.


Saunders, A. D., 1991, Untitled Source, 2 (Article in Serial). SDV346501.


Griffith, F. M., 1995, DAP/YO, 9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV156001.


Devon County Council, 1996, DAP/AAK, 7-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV346459.


Fox, A., 1996, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, 40-1 (Monograph). SDV7958.


Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1997, Blackdown Rings Prehistoric Hillfort and Medieval Castle (Schedule Document). SDV346493.

The monument includes Blackdown Rings, the remains of a Prehistoric hillfort with a Medieval ringwork and bailey castle. Situated in the South Hams about 3.5 kilometres north of the village of Loddiswell, on a hill to the west of the River Avon, the monument takes the form of prominent and imposing earthworks. The hillfort is sited to the south of the hillcrest so that to the north its defences face onto slightly rising ground, to the east and west onto level ground, and overlooks the ground to the south. It occupies a roughly oval area of approximately 2.4 hectares, enclosed by an earthwork in the form of a rampart with an external ditch and a counterscarp bank. Material for the rampart and counterscarp was originally quarried from the ditch. The rampart is about 6 metre in width and between 1.2 and 1.7 metres in height above the internal ground surface. It has a gradual inner slope, flat top, and a near vertical outer face. Between the rampart and ditch there is a berm, consisting of a level area of up to 2 metres width, although in places it is absent and the face of the rampart is continuous with the inner side of the ditch. The ditch is about 8 metres wide and 2 metres deep with steep sides and a flat bottom, which in places is uneven, particularly on the north side of the hillfort, where it contains a number of large shallow hollows. On the outer edge of the ditch there is a counterscarp bank which is about 6 metres in width and 0.3 metres high. On the north side of the hillfort it is obscured by the road, and on the south side it is overlain by a substantial field bank. There are two original entrances into the enclosure, opposed in the east and west sides, each consisting of a causeway across the ditch and a gap in the rampart of about 8 metres width. The ends of the ramparts are curved inwards slightly, sloping down to end at low earth mounds. At the east entrance the causeway is offset slightly to the north of the gap in the rampart, and the counterscarp to the north of the entrance becomes a large curving bank, about 30 metres long by up to 9 metres wide, and 1.5 metres high at its northern end. In the north western part of the hillfort defences are the earthwork remains of a Medieval castle, taking the form of a ringwork and bailey. The ringwork, which occupies the highest ground available within the hillfort, is represented by a substantial penannular earthen bank surrouded by a ditch. The bank is about 35 metres in external diameter at base (natural ground level), flat topped, and with sides that slope steeply both externally and internally to form a rampart up to 4 metres in height on its highest, northern, side. The bank would have originally supported a wooden palisade. The interior of the ringwork consists of a relatively small level area of some 7 metres diameter, and is offset to the south east of the centre of the ringwork towards a narrow entrance through the bank. At this point the bank is at its lowest at about 2 metres in height. The interior slope of the bank is very uneven, having been cut into several large scoops and gulleys. The outer face of the bank slopes directly into the encircling `V' shaped ditch which is up to 7 metres wide and 2 metres deep. In its north west quadrant the ditch is contiguous with the ditch of the hillfort. There is a low causeway across the ditch opposite the entrance through the bank, and the southern quadrant of the ditch is subject to seasonal waterlogging. The bailey lies adjacent to the south east of the ringwork and occupies a level area of approximately 0.2 hectares, measuring about 53 metres by 20 metres, enclosed by an earthwork rampart with an external ditch and counterscarp bank. The rampart consists of a steep-sided bank up to 8 metres wide and 2 metres in height. On its northern side the bailey rampart overlies the hillfort rampart and at this point is at its highest. The external face of the rampart slopes directly into a steepsided ditch, about 6 metres wide and 1.2 - 2 metres deep. Material for the rampart was quarried from this ditch which interconnects with the ditches of the ringwork and hillfort. On the outer edge of the ditch there is a low counterscarp bank of about 4 metres width, which is up to 0.6 metres high where the bailey rampart joins the hillfort rampart. The south east facing aspect of the rampart has two narrow gaps at a point where the rampart is at its lowest, and the northern gap has been interpreted as the site of the original entrance into the bailey. There is an area of raised ground in the ditch opposite the entrance which may represent a causeway. Adjacent to the bailey are the slight earthwork remains of later field boundaries. On the highest part of the ringwork there is a slightly wider area of level ground, about 4.5 metres by 3.5 metres in size. This is the site of a beacon shown on a plan of the earthwork dated to 1752. It is considered to have been a Pole Beacon consisting of an upright timber post set into the ground and braced with a timber framework, to support one or more iron cages holding the combustible material, probably gorse and pitch. Access to the cage or cages would have been by a permanent ladder. Excluded from the scheduling are the road surface, direction marker, interpretative panels and all fence posts, although the ground beneath these features is included.
Univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. Both the hillfort and the ringwork and bailey are very well preserved monuments in a relatively isolated and elevated location where they have been free from later disturbance and development. Only a small number of hillforts were utilised in the Medieval period as castles of the ringwork and bailey type. The close association of these two very different forms of defensive structures, together with evidence of later land use in the form of field boundaries and reuse of the ringwork as the site of a beacon in the Post Medieval period, demonstrates valuable archaeological evidence for the continued use and importance of this prominent site over a period of thousands of years. Other details: Monument 24853.


Devon County Council, 2000, Devon County Council's Environment Land Management Scheme. Archaeological Appraisal of Proposals for Land at Blackdown Rings, Loddiswell, South Hams (Report - Assessment). SDV142937.

Proposal by Arundel Charity to manage Blackdown Rings as a public amenity through Devon's Elms initiative. Proposals include construction of car park and picnic area and vegetation clearance.


National Monuments Record, 2011, 444690 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV346491.

The remains of a Prehistoric hillfort with a Medieval ringwork and bailey. It is situated in the South Hams, on a hill to the west of the River Avon. The hillfort is sited to the south of the hillcrest so that to the north its defences face onto slightly rising ground, to the east and west onto level ground. It occupies a roughly oval area of 2.4 hectares, enclosed by a rampart with an external ditch and counterscarp bank. The rampart is about 6 metres in width and between 1.2 metres and 1.7 metres in height above the internal ground surface. It has a gradual inner slope, flat top, and a near vertical outer face. Between the rampart and the ditch there is a berm, consisting of a level area of up to 2 metres width. The ditch is about 8 metres wide and 2 metres deep with steep sides and a flat bottom, which in places is uneven. On the outer edge of the ditch there is a counterscarp bank which is about 6 metres in width and 0.3 metres high. On the north side of the hillfort it is obscured by the road, and on the south side it is overlain by a substantial field bank. There are two original entrances into the enclosure, opposed in the east and west sides, each consisting of a causeway across the ditch and a gap in the rampart of about 8 metres in width.


Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M., 2011, In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts (Article in Serial). SDV361500.


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

'The Rings Hill Fort' shown on modern mapping as a multi-banked earthwork on Blackdown Hill.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 407,410,420.
SDV1312Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1931. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. VIII. A5 Hardback. 306.
SDV140289Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. CPE/UK 1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV142937Report - Assessment: Devon County Council. 2000. Devon County Council's Environment Land Management Scheme. Archaeological Appraisal of Proposals for Land at Blackdown Rings, Loddiswell, South Hams. Devon County Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV145408Article in Serial: Copeland, G. W.. 1965. Proceedings at the 103rd Annual Meeting. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 97. A5 Hardback. 30.
SDV147956Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/FW. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-6.
SDV156001Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1995. DAP/YO. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 9.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback.
SDV321206Article in Serial: Elliott, E. A. S.. 1901. On Some Earthworks in the South Hams Probably Concerned in the Irishmen's Raid. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 33. A5 Hardback. 475-483.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 618-9.
SDV342760Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1949. CUC/CF. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 40-43.
SDV343082Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1984. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1984. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #103056 ]
SDV346459Aerial Photograph: Devon County Council. 1996. DAP/AAK. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7-8.
SDV346491National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 444690. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV346492Schedule Document: Department of Environment. 1981. The Rings. The Schedule of Monuments. Foolscap.
SDV346493Schedule Document: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 1997. Blackdown Rings Prehistoric Hillfort and Medieval Castle. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV346494Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952 - 1961. SX75SW4. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV346495Personal Comment: Griffith, F. M.. 1983.
SDV346496Personal Comment: Fox, A.. 1952. A4 Single Sheet.
SDV346497Report - Survey: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1991. The Rings, Loddiswell. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. Plan.
SDV346498Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1976. Letter.
SDV346501Article in Serial: Saunders, A. D.. 1991. Fortress. 10. Unknown. 2.
SDV346502Leaflet: Devon County Council. 1991. Blackdown Rings, Loddiswell. Leaflet.
SDV346504Article in Serial: Wilson-North, W. R. + Dunn, C. J.. 1990. 'The Rings'. Loddiswell: A New Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 48. Paperback Volume. 87-100.
SDV346505Article in Serial: Born, A.. 1991. Blackdown Rings, Loddiswell. Kingsbridge History Society Recorder. 6. Unknown.
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.
SDV64195Monograph: Higham, R. A.. 1981. Archaeology of the Devon Landscape. Unknown. 77-8.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 74.
SDV7958Monograph: Fox, A.. 1996. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Paperback Volume. 40-1.

Associated Monuments

MDV41980Parent of: Beacon on Motte on Blackdown Hill (Monument)
MDV7602Parent of: Motte and Bailey within Loddiswell Rings (Monument)
MDV21004Related to: FIELD SYSTEM in the Parish of Loddiswell (Monument)
MDV19558Related to: SETTLEMENT in the Parish of Loddiswell (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Jun 28 2018 11:47AM