HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV9594
Name:Earthwork on Berry Head, Brixham

Summary

An earthwork or wall appears to have formerly stretched across the neck of land but to have been destroyed when the Napoloeonic fortifications were built. The headland may have been the site of a promontory fort which was subsequently occupied during the Roman period as Roman coins and pottery have been found here.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 942 564
Map Sheet:SX95NW
Admin AreaTorbay
Civil ParishBrixham
Civil ParishTorbay
DistrictTorbay
Ecclesiastical ParishBRIXHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX95NW/5
  • Tide Project: 09/10/2020
  • Torbay HER: MTO9594

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • EARTHWORK (Constructed, Early Iron Age to Roman - 700 BC to 409 AD (Between))

Full description

Lysons, D. + Lysons, S., 1822, Magna Britannica, 351 (Monograph). SDV323771.

Site of promontory fort with a vallum 5.5 metres high. They thought it was Roman because of coins found there in about 1730.

Blewitt, O., 1830, The Panorama of Torquay, 202 (Monograph). SDV362566.

Blewitt states that the 'Roman rampart' was 18 feet high and that it was destroyed by the fortifications 40 years ago.

Woollcombe, H., 1839-1850, Woollcombe Manuscript (Un-published). SDV16214.

Site visit 24th August 1840. There was originally a rampart across the neck of land which now has modern fortifications on the same line. Roman coins were found circ 1730. There is a zig-zag path to the sea on the north side.
Plan in manuscript.

Davidson, J. B., 1861, Notes on the Antiquities of Devonshire which date before the Norman Conquest, 18 (Monograph). SDV123842.

Worth, R. N., 1891, President's Address, 57, 77-78 (Article in Serial). SDV158810.

According to Mr Davidson a great number of Roman coins have been found here. He thought that if the earthwork was not built by the Romans, then it was certainly occupied by them. He stated that the northern vallum was 18 feet high, included Roman masonry and stretched straight across the promontory but that it had now been destroyed by the modern fortifications. Roman coins had also been found in the cliffs.
Woollcombe, however, believed it to be a cliff castle. There is no trace of the coins.

Page, W., 1906, Victoria County History, 576 (Monograph). SDV362501.

All now destroyed.

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1932, The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two, 508 (Monograph). SDV337894.

Berry Head is referred to as Byri pointe by Leland circa 1550. The name derives from burh. There are old earthworks here.

Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 349-350 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Horsley, J., 1956, Letter 6 November 1956 (Correspondence). SDV162818.

According to Horsley, a Roman camp on the end of Berry Head was demolished and the present fortifications built with part of the stones from the earlier rampart. Suggested to b an Iron Age 'B' fort which was stormed and taken by the Romans.

Smith, L. T., 1964, The Itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543, 223-224 (Monograph). SDV362504.

Donn, B., 1965, A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint) (Monograph). SDV336413.

'Ruins of a Danish Castle' is marked on Donn's Map. However, the marked position of the site places it above Shorestone Point, not on Berry Head itself.

County Borough of Torbay, 1967, Berry Head, 9-10, 14-15 (Monograph). SDV362520.

At the time of the construction of Napoleonic defences in 1803, the Colonel of the engineers suggested that the masonry repairs to the earthen wall were Roman work. Some 27 acres of Berry Head were bought by the government in 1794 and subsequently levelled, thus removing all trace of the earlier defences.

Pike, J. R., 1973, Brixham, Torbay: A Bibliographical Guide, 2 (Monograph). SDV362271.

Pike citing the Dartmouth Chronicle of 9th June 1871 describe the Revd Hogg using shipwrecked German emigrants to level a surviving portion of the earthwork circa 1850.

Cambridge University, 1973, K17-AD (Aerial Photograph). SDV354635.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SX 95 NW 10 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV317919.

Site visit 5th August 1954. Some Roman coins, including a Claudius, (figure of Victory on the reverse), were found at Berry Head Camp. Romano British pottery has also been found.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SX 95 NW 12 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV317921.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SX 95 NW 35 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV317930.

<1> Pye, A.R., 1989, Berry Head Fort, Brixham. An Archaeological Assessment, 2-3, 16-7, 26-7 (Report - Assessment). SDV362497.

The presence or absence of an earthwork demarcating a promontory fort is set out. Pye discusses and evaluates the 19th century authorities. As late as the 1890s the pre-18th century fortifications were still being ascribed to either the Romans or the Danes.
The earliest reference cited by Pye is the reply to the questionnaire in D. Milles 'Parochial History of Devon' (1747-62) where the brother in law of the Vicar of Brixham describes the wall as 'a large heap of stones and rubbish about a quarter of a mile in length, commonly called the Berry Walls, it crosses the neck of land called the Berry [Head] about a furlong from the point and said to have been thrown up by the Danes'. He also mentions as a separte feature 'the ruins of an ancient castle, in the manor of Brixham, facing Torbay'.
Further primary evidence for the presence of an early rampart on the line of the redoubt is its depiction on a number of late 18th century charts and maps.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV123842Monograph: Davidson, J. B.. 1861. Notes on the Antiquities of Devonshire which date before the Norman Conquest. Notes on the Antiquities of Devonshire which date before the Norman Conquest. Unknown. 18.
SDV158810Article in Serial: Worth, R. N.. 1891. President's Address. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 23. A5 Hardback. 57, 77-78.
SDV16214Un-published: Woollcombe, H.. 1839-1850. Woollcombe Manuscript. Woollcombe Manuscript. Manuscript.
SDV162818Correspondence: Horsley, J.. 1956. Letter 6 November 1956. Letter. Letter.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 349-350.
SDV317919Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SX 95 NW 10. OSAD Card. Card Index.
SDV317921Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SX 95 NW 12. OSAD Card. Card Index.
SDV317930Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SX 95 NW 35. OSAD Card. Card Index.
SDV323771Monograph: Lysons, D. + Lysons, S.. 1822. Magna Britannica. Magna Britannica: A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties o. 6: Devonshire. Unknown. 351.
SDV336413Monograph: Donn, B.. 1965. A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint). A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint). Hardback Volume.
SDV337894Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1932. The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two. The Place-Names of Devon: Part Two. IX. A5 Hardback. 508.
SDV354635Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1973. K17-AD. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper).
SDV362271Monograph: Pike, J. R.. 1973. Brixham, Torbay: A Bibliographical Guide. Brixham, Torbay: A Bibliographical Guide. Paperback Volume. 2.
SDV362501Monograph: Page, W.. 1906. Victoria County History. Victoria County History. Devon. Hardback Volume. 576.
SDV362504Monograph: Smith, L. T.. 1964. The Itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543. The Itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543. 1. Unknown. 223-224.
SDV362520Monograph: County Borough of Torbay. 1967. Berry Head. Berry Head. Paperback. 9-10, 14-15.
SDV362566Monograph: Blewitt, O.. 1830. The Panorama of Torquay. The Panorama of Torquay. Hardback Volume. 202.
SDV362497Report - Assessment: Pye, A.R.. 1989. Berry Head Fort, Brixham. An Archaeological Assessment. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. EMAFU 89.04. Hardcopy + Digital. 2-3, 16-7, 26-7.
Linked documents:1

Associated Monuments

MDV20080Related to: Berry Head Fort No. 3, Brixham (Monument)
MDV9593Related to: Redoubt at Berry Head Fort No. 3, Brixham (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7797 - Architectural Survey by DA Buildings Section 1988
  • EDV7832 - Documentary research on the Berry Head Fort
  • EDV7834 - Archaeological Assessments of the Berry Head Forts

Date Last Edited:Oct 28 2020 12:14PM