Hillfort on Brent Hill
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002662
Date first listed: 29-May-1979
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: South Hams (District Authority)
Parish: South Brent
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 70344 61724
Slight univallate hillfort with outworks, hut circle platforms and beacon at Brent Hill.
Reasons for Designation
Dartmoor is the largest expanse of open moorland in southern Britain and, because of exceptional conditions of preservation, it is also one of the most complete examples of an upland relict landscape in the whole country. The great wealth and diversity of archaeological remains provide direct evidence for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards. The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites, major land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains, gives significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time. Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, outworks are rarer still. Slight univallate hillforts are rare nationally, although in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. They are important for understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities. Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the country. Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time of the Spanish Armada, the system was in decay by the mid-17th century. The slight univallate hillfort with outworks, hut circle platforms and beacon at Brent Hill survive comparatively well and indicate the continued strategic importance of this hill throughout history and its importance as a landmark and meeting place.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 November 2015. This 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.
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.
The chapel at Brent Hill is scheduled separately.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 1011
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-444944
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