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HER Number:MDV7956
Name:Site of a Beacon on Brent Hill, South Brent


Site of a pre-Elizabethan beacon on Brent Hill mentioned in the 16th and 17th centuries


Grid Reference:SX 703 617
Map Sheet:SX76SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishSouth Brent
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSOUTH BRENT

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX76SW12
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 444947
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX76SW/26
  • Old SAM County Ref: 1011

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BEACON (XVI to XVII - 1600 AD to 1700 AD)

Full description

Crossing, W., 1912 (1965), Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, 11 (Monograph). SDV320981.

On Brent Hill there are the remains of a small building, sometimes called the Chapel, which may have been used as a place of shelter for the watchers of the beacon. In 1887 the foundations of another building close to the 'Chapel' were identified.

Royal Air Force, 1948, RAF/CPE/UK/2494, 3041 ch 53/60 (Aerial Photograph). SDV147533.

Russell, P., 1955, Fire Beacons in Devon, 280 (Article in Serial). SDV336138.

Brent Hill, South Brent: Reference in Dartington churchwarden's accounts 1628, "pd. for the searching of Brent Beacon two several times". Shown on map as pre-Elizabethan but no evidence for this advanced. N.G. Ref. SX 705617 is supplied.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1960, SX76SW12 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV271204.

Brent Hill, South Brent: Reference in Dartington churchwarden's accounts 1628, "pd. for the searching of Brent Beacon two several times". Shown on map as pre-Elizabethan but no evidence for this advanced (citing Russell, 1955, pg 280).
(07/06/1960) Brent Hill is a situation suitable for a beacon, but no trace of its site was found during field investigation. The highest point of the hill, the most likely site, is that occupied by the Ordnance Survey Triangulation Pillar at National Grid Reference SX70316170.

Robinson, R., 1977-1979, South Brent Parish Checklist Worksheets, Pages 571-2 of 821 (Worksheet). SDV340722.

Nothing is now visible on the ground unless the faint rectangular ditch to the north east of the chapel ruins on the summit is a remnant of the watchmans hut (this is visible on the aerial photograph, and was probably the foundation of a rectangular building mentioned by William Crossing). This rectangular ditch measures 10 metres by 12 metres with a bank also traceable on the north-west and south-west sides about 0.25 metres high.

Greeves, T., 1981, Beacon on Brent Hill (Worksheet). SDV164730.

Site visited on 25th February 1981. Rectangular ditched enclosure. With rectangular platform in the centre. On east, a sub-rectangular low mound. Could this be original chapel site, or a windmill mound with associated structures?

Department of Environment, 1988, Beacon on Brent Hill (Correspondence). SDV164731.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted on 25th March 1988 for the building and lighting of a bonfire to mark the 400th anniversary of the attempted Armada invasion.

Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Triangulation point on Brent Hill shown as a small triangle on modern mapping.

Historic England, 2016, National Heritage List for England, 1002662 (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

The summit of Brent Hill is a well documented beacon site and it is named ‘Brent Beacon’ on Ogilby’s map of 1675, Donn’s Map and Cary’s map. Dartington churchwardens’ accounts of 1591, 1628 and 1690 list parish contributions for the upkeep of the beacon and the 1591 entry includes items paid for the construction of a house for the watchman. The rectangular structure is often interpreted as this house.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV147533Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1948. RAF/CPE/UK/2494. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3041 ch 53/60.
SDV164730Worksheet: Greeves, T.. 1981. Beacon on Brent Hill.
SDV164731Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1988. Beacon on Brent Hill. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter.
SDV271204Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1960. SX76SW12. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV320981Monograph: Crossing, W.. 1912 (1965). Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor. Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 11.
SDV336138Article in Serial: Russell, P.. 1955. Fire Beacons in Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 87. A5 Hardback. 280.
SDV340722Worksheet: Robinson, R.. 1977-1979. South Brent Parish Checklist Worksheets. South Brent Parish Checklist. Worksheet. Pages 571-2 of 821.
SDV359352Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV359353National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1002662.

Associated Monuments

MDV3173Related to: Beacon at High Willhays (Monument)
MDV4816Related to: Beacon east of West Mill Tor (Monument)
MDV64246Related to: BEACON in the Parish of Bridford (Monument)
MDV9508Related to: BEACON in the Parish of Bridford (Monument)
MDV8474Related to: BEACON in the Parish of Cheriton Bishop (Monument)
MDV6152Related to: Beacon on Meldon Hill (Monument)
MDV8442Related to: Bowden Beacon; possible site (Monument)
MDV7977Related to: Buckland Beacon (Monument)
MDV13169Related to: Building and enclosure on Butterdon Hill, Harford (Monument)
MDV7936Related to: Chapel of St Michael, Brent Hill (Building)
MDV6883Related to: Fire beacon, Cawsand Hill (Monument)
MDV7957Related to: Hillfort on Brent Hill, South Brent (Monument)
MDV7823Related to: Medieval fire beacon, Buckfastleigh (Monument)
MDV13811Related to: Possible beacon, Hennock (Monument)
MDV2387Related to: Rowber Beacon, Buckland Monachorum (Monument)
MDV2388Related to: Shaugh Beacon (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:May 20 2022 2:59PM