Earthwork in Houndtor Wood
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002532
Date first listed: 18-Jul-1961
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Teignbridge (District Authority)
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 76840 80545
Promontory fort in Houndtor Wood, 660m east of Beckhams.
Reasons for Designation
Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone-walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. In view of their rarity and their importance in the understanding of the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are considered nationally important.
Despite afforestation, the promontory fort in Houndtor Wood, 600m east of Beckhams, survives comparatively well and will contain information concerning Iron Age activity on the edges of Dartmoor. Evidence relating to the occupation of this area in the period following the Bronze Age is by comparison relatively scarce and all good examples are considered to be of particular importance.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 4 November 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a prehistoric promontory fort situated on an east-facing spur overlooking the valley of the River Bovey. The promontory fort includes a single rampart and external ditch with a well-defined 6m gap which represents an original entrance. The rampart is up to 12m wide by 2.4m high and protects a level area to the east which is bounded elsewhere by very steep slopes leading into the valley below. This level area will contain traces of contemporary occupation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 456
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing