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HER Number:MDV81092
Name:Settlement, Hillsborough Promontory Fort


Site of settlement. A gradiometer and earth resisitance survey carried out on Hillsborough Prmontory Fort identified a myriad of anomolies. The interpretations include postholes, pits, stony structures and routeways, ditches and rectilinear and curvilinear enclosures.


Grid Reference:SS 532 476
Map Sheet:SS54NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishIlfracombe
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishILFRACOMBE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • SETTLEMENT (Prehistoric - 698000 BC to 42 AD (Between))

Full description

Dean, R., 2011 - 2012, Land at Hillsborough Promontory Fort, Illfracombe, Gradiometer and Earth Resistance Survey (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV348927.

The survey was designed to record magnetic and earth resistance anomalies. The anomalies themselves cannot be regarded as actual archaeological features and the dimensions of the anomalies shown do not represent the dimensions of any associated archaeological features.

The survey was conducted over two areas; at the area regarded as the entrance to the promontory fort (hereafter designated the 'entrance area') and a section of the ramparts with a possible cist burial (hereafter designated the 'cist area'). Both areas are characterised by steep natural north-to-south slopes accentuated by the earthworks of the promontory fort.

The magnetic contrast across the survey areas was sufficient to be able to differentiate between anomalies representing possible archaeological features and background magnetic responses.

It is clear from the distribution of anomaly groups that there are a number of phases of archaeological deposition in the vicinity of the promontory fort entrance. Whether or not these phases represent different phases of fort construction and/or are indicative of other archaeological activities will only be decided through archaeological excavation.

As with the earlier LiDAR survey, it was possible to clearly distinguish in the data the earthworks from the bedrock over which they are placed. The magnetic anomalies spatially associated with the extant earthworks show that they are likely to be composed of one or more linear relatively stony structures; possibly retaining walls or rubble deposits designed to define and hold the rest of the material used to construct and/or repair the ramparts (anomaly groups 7, 8 and 26 in figure 5, and groups 38, 39, 47 and 48 in figure 6). It is reasonably certain that each section of rampart surveyed had a ditch at its base (anomaly groups 9, 25, 58, 59 and 68 in figure 5, and group 87 in figure 6).

Many of the other anomolies consist of a circular enclosure, ditches, stoney structures and surfaces, large pits or postholes, sub rectangular/oval features and stoney banks.

One possible large posthole or pit was found on the northern side of the entrance (anomaly group 17 in figures 1 and 5). One possible sub-rectangular structure (group 12, figure 5) and a subcircular area of possible archaeological deposits (group 74 in figure 5) were found within the ramparts in the entrance area. A line of possible pits (groups 61 and 62 in figure 5) and numerous linear anomalies within the ramparts may be indicative of multiple phases of archaeological deposition in addition to those associated with the construction, repair and decline of the visible earthworks.

It is clear that there are a number of phases of archaeological deposition to the south of the entrance including some tenuous evidence of settlement (groups 33 and 34 in figure 5). From anecdotal evidence (section 2, HER 75637) there may be similar archaeological deposits elsewhere on the southward facing slope below the promontory fort.

While the magnetic and earth resistance anomalies suggested rampart structures similar to that found in the entrance area, there was some indication of later repair on these steep ramparts not noted in the entrance area groups (for example, groups 40, 84 and possibly 89 in figure 6).

One anomaly group adjacent to the visible cavity thought to be the site of a cist suggested the possibility of a small and localised group of archaeological deposits worthy of further investigation.

It is clear from both the gradiometer and earth resistance surveys that there are multiple sets of archaeological deposits and structures defining multiple phases of construction in the area now defined by the visible earthworks. Map object based on this Source.

Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Map object based on this Source.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV348927Report - Geophysical Survey: Dean, R.. 2011 - 2012. Land at Hillsborough Promontory Fort, Illfracombe, Gradiometer and Earth Resistance Survey. Substrata Report. 111011. A4 Comb Bound.

Associated Monuments

MDV81094Related to: Rectilinear Enclosure, Hillsborough Promontory Fort (Monument)
MDV81093Related to: Round House, Hillsborough Promontory Fort (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5738 - Gradiometer and Earth Resistance Survey, Land at Hillsborough Hillfort

Date Last Edited:Feb 1 2012 11:27AM