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HER Number:MDV7957
Name:Hillfort on Brent Hill, South Brent


Prehistoric hillfort earthwork on the summit of Brent Hill. Thought to be early Iron Age in date.


Grid Reference:SX 703 616
Map Sheet:SX76SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishSouth Brent
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSOUTH BRENT

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX76SW11
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 444944
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX76SW/27
  • Old SAM County Ref: 1011

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Worth, R. N., 1891, President's Address, 97 (Article in Serial). SDV158810.

Rowe, S., 1896, A Perambulation of the Royal Forest of Dartmoor and the venville precincts, 221 (Monograph). SDV249697.

Cresswell, B. F. + Almy, P. H. W., 1950, Homeland Guide to Dartmoor, 72, 86 (Monograph). SDV164631.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1960, SX76SW11 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV252703.

(08/06/1960) The long narrow summit of Brent Hill shows traces of fortification. The defensive situation is strong, with very steep rocky slopes on the north-west side and a fairly steep gradient to the south-east. The artificial defences of the hill top consist of a scarped bank on the more vulnerable south-east side. In places there appears to be an inner slope to this bank but a modern field wall and bank overlie it and make the extent uncertain. The combination of bank and natural slopes form an almost complete circuit of the hill top although on the south-west side the defence is weak. No certain entrance could be identified. On the north-east side, where the approach is easiest, there is an outer bank at a much lower level. The wide space between the two banks is more suggestive of an annexe than a true outer defence. The bank fades when it reaches the steeper ground to the north-west and south-east. The purpose of the earthwork is defensive and would appear to be an Early Iron Age hillfort rather than a Late Bronze Age work as suggested by Brailsford.

Walters, R. S., 1964, Dartmoor Essays, 94 (Monograph). SDV164636.

Robinson, R., 1977-1979, South Brent Parish Checklist Worksheets, 1977-78, pages 574-5 of 821 (Worksheet). SDV340722.

Detailed discussion of earthworks and sketch plan.

Allden, A., 1979, Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology (Correspondence). SDV164635.

Site visited on 1st - 2nd August 1979 during course of agricultural improvement of fields on south side of Brent Hill. Additional earthworks identified including continuation of outer bank on south and south-east and a further bank to the east following existing hedge line. These are considered to be part of hillfort defences.

Silvester, R. J., 1979, The Relationship of First Millennium Settlement to the Upland Areas of the South West, 183, Figure 1 (Article in Serial). SDV177352.

Location of multiple enclosure fort at Brent Hill implies utilisation of lower moorland tracts for stock grazing.

National Monuments Record, 1980, SF1743, 011-014 (Aerial Photograph). SDV161746.

Photograph taken on 9th April 1980.

Timms, S., 1982, Brent Hill Hillfort (Personal Comment). SDV164638.

Comment on 17th September 1982. The hillfort was scheduled in November 1979 following discussions about agricultural improvements which were started in summer of 1979. Scheduled area does not include additional earthworks observed by Allden in August 1979.

Griffith, F. M., 1983, Brent Hill (Photograph). SDV164639.

Site visited on 3rd February 1983. Slides taken in low light show the additional earthworks.

Robinson, R., 1983, List of Field Monument Warden Visits (Site Visit). SDV114314.

Site visited on 20th November 1983.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/BV, 8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV296237.

Photograph taken on 11th July 1984.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/CV, 10-11 (Aerial Photograph). SDV233132.

Photograph taken on 20th July 1984.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP (Cartographic). SDV319854.

Two lots of earthworks, the inner defence from SX70326161 to SX70496176, approximately 200 metres in length and the outer defence from SX70536182 to SX7057675 for approximately 100 metres in length.

Snell, R., 1986, Green Lanes in Devon Project (Un-published). SDV8442.

Earthworks around Brent Hill.

Department of Environment, 1989, Brent Hill Hillfort, 7th February 1989 (Correspondence). SDV164643.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for the restoration of the profile of the banks and erection of a temporary stockproof fence.

Welsh,. T. C., 1991, South Brent Hill (Unknown). SDV164644.

Apparent gateway into outer earthwork at SX 705618 comprising inclined road or ramp through gap at north-west terminal of earthwork. Within gap two crosswalks suggestive of gatehouse. Possible outwork visible at SX707617, almost obscured by east to west lynchets. Enclosure, huts and platform observed. On the summit is a foundation consisting of two squarish flat-topped mounds within an enclosing stony bank. This may represent a small courtyard. Further foundations suggest a formal group of buildings.

Bennett, R., 2009, Airborne Remote Sensing Analysis - Brent Hill, Appendix 3, Page 2, 15, 16 (Report - Survey). SDV359640.

Ramparts of the Iron Age hillfort on Brent Hill and bank of enclosure to the south-west of the hillfort.

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

'Earthwork' shown on modern mapping as an oval feature on the summit of Brent Hill.

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

This monument includes a slight univallate hillfort with outworks, hut circle platforms and beacon situated at the summit of the prominent Brent Hill. The hillfort survives as an irregularly shaped enclosure surrounding the summit of a naturally steep and rocky hillside which is further enhanced by a partial rampart and ditch. There is an extension to the rampart circuit on the south western side where natural defences are weaker and to the south east a second outwork in the form of a short length of outer rampart and partially buried ditch connects with steeper natural slopes to the north west and south east. The artificial ramparts are best preserved to the south and attain an overall maximum width of approximately 9m. The original entrance is to the north east where the outwork adds additional protection. The circuit of the rampart is defined almost through out its entire length by a later field boundary which overlies it. Within the enclosure are the circular platforms of up to three huts which vary in size from 8m to 11m in diameter. There is also a faint rectangular earthwork immediately east of the chapel which survives as a rectangular ditch with an external bank enclosing an area measuring approximately 12m long by 10m wide. The summit of the 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.

Ralston, I. + Lock, G., 2017, Atlas of Hillforts (Website). SDV360888.

Historic England, 2021-2022, NRHE to HER website, Accessed 23/05/2022 (Website). SDV364039.

There is little recorded information upon the earthworks at Brent Hill. Rowe mentions "the appearances of earthworks on the upper part of the hill"; (Rowe's Perambulation, 1896, 221) and South Brent parish is named in a list of unspecified earthworks in Devon, quoted by Handsford Worth (R. H. Worth, TDA 1891, Vol 23, 97).
J. W. Brailsford in his private Index of 1938 gives the classification L.B.A. referring to "Homeland Handbook for Devon", 1950, p. 72, 86.
A later edition of the latter refers to Brent Hill by way of a compilation based upon doubtful authorities. "Upon it are the ruins of an old watch-house, an ancient camp, and vestiges of prehistoric antiquities" (J. W. Brailsford, 1938, private index).

Sources / Further Reading

SDV114314Site Visit: Robinson, R.. 1983. List of Field Monument Warden Visits.
SDV158810Article in Serial: Worth, R. N.. 1891. President's Address. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 23. A5 Hardback. 97.
SDV161746Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1980. SF1743. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 011-014.
SDV164631Monograph: Cresswell, B. F. + Almy, P. H. W.. 1950. Homeland Guide to Dartmoor. Unknown. 72, 86.
SDV164635Correspondence: Allden, A.. 1979. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology. Brent Hill survey.
SDV164636Monograph: Walters, R. S.. 1964. Dartmoor Essays. Dartmoor Essays. 94.
SDV164638Personal Comment: Timms, S.. 1982. Brent Hill Hillfort.
SDV164639Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1983. Brent Hill.
SDV164643Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1989. Brent Hill Hillfort. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. 7th February 1989.
SDV164644Unknown: Welsh,. T. C.. 1991. South Brent Hill.
SDV177352Article in Serial: Silvester, R. J.. 1979. The Relationship of First Millennium Settlement to the Upland Areas of the South West. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 37. Paperback Volume. 183, Figure 1.
SDV233132Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/CV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 10-11.
SDV249697Monograph: Rowe, S.. 1896. A Perambulation of the Royal Forest of Dartmoor and the venville precincts. Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor. Unknown. 221.
SDV252703Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1960. SX76SW11. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV296237Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/BV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 8.
SDV319854Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV340722Worksheet: Robinson, R.. 1977-1979. South Brent Parish Checklist Worksheets. South Brent Parish Checklist. Worksheet. 1977-78, pages 574-5 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. [Mapped feature: #106371 ]
SDV359640Report - Survey: Bennett, R.. 2009. Airborne Remote Sensing Analysis - Brent Hill. Appendix 3, Page 2, 15, 16.
SDV360888Website: Ralston, I. + Lock, G.. 2017. Atlas of Hillforts. https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk/. Website.
SDV364039Website: Historic England. 2021-2022. NRHE to HER website. https://nrhe-to-her.esdm.co.uk/NRHE. Website. Accessed 23/05/2022.
SDV8442Un-published: Snell, R.. 1986. Green Lanes in Devon Project. Green Lanes in Devon Project. Not applicable. Unknown.

Associated Monuments

MDV13630Parent of: Part of the hillfort on Brent Hill, South Brent (Monument)
MDV115435Parent of: Semi-circular Feature on Brent Hill, South Brent (Monument)
MDV24848Related to: Area of Lynchets on Brent Hill, South Brent (Monument)
MDV7936Related to: Chapel of St Michael, Brent Hill (Building)
MDV25383Related to: Clearance Cairn south of Brent Hill, South Brent (Monument)
MDV115370Related to: Former Field Boundary on Brent Hill, South Brent (Monument)
MDV115372Related to: Former Field Boundary on Brent Hill, South Brent (Monument)
MDV13679Related to: Quarry on Beara Common, South Brent (Monument)
MDV7956Related to: Site of a Beacon on Brent Hill, South Brent (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:May 23 2022 10:52AM