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Dolbury hillfort, 320m north of Killerton House

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Dolbury hillfort, 320m north of Killerton House

List entry Number: 1017192


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: East Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Broad Clyst

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 30-Aug-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 25-Nov-1999

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 29690

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Despite some obscuring of its features due to 18th century tree planting and some minor quarrying damage, Dolbury hillfort survives as a good example of its class and is unusual in having been provided with a well-defended secondary enclosure which is almost as large in area as the hillfort itself. The monument will provide archaeological information on the construction and use of the site, the lives of its inhabitants, and the landscape in which they lived.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Dolbury hillfort, a prehistoric slight univallate hillfort with an associated defended enclosure. The hillfort is located on the highest point of a hill which overlooks the River Culm to the north. The defences, which utilise, with some modification, the natural slope of the land are strengthened by a rampart and ditch on the western side, and they enclose an area of about 2.2ha. Occupying slightly lower ground to the west is a well- defended enclosure built after the completion of the main hillfort. The earliest defended area of Dolbury hillfort has an easy approach only from the west where artificial defences were provided. These comprised a single rampart and ditch which survive as a flat topped bank 1m wide fronted by an angled slope 4m wide, and a ditch 3m wide; of the latter only a faint depression remains as it has been largely infilled in antiquity. Elsewhere the naturally occurring steep slopes appear to have provided an adequate defence requiring only scarping in places to enhance their effectiveness. Adjoining the hillfort on its western side, and enclosing a further area of approximately 2ha, is an enclosure which is considered to be prehistoric in origin. It is clearly somewhat later in construction than the original hillfort as its artificial defences can be seen to intrude upon those of the earlier works. They comprise a rampart with an average width of 2.3m fronted by a ditch 3m wide with a steep angled slope which reaches a maximum distance of 11m between the ditch and the top of the rampart where the defences survive best on the western and north western sides. There is a faint trace of a counterscarp beyond the outer rim of the ditch. An entrance 5.5m wide, but known to have been widened in modern times, leads into the enclosure from the north. The absence of any completion of the circuit of this second enclosure on its eastern side, where it partly intrudes within the defences of the hillfort, suggests that the intention may have been to create a single larger enclosure rather than the newer enclosure entirely replacing the earlier hillfort. Some small scale quarrying has occurred within the interior of both the hillfort and the secondary enclosure in antiquity and larger scale quarrying has approached the defences of the hillfort on its eastern extremities. The whole area of the hillfort and enclosure suffered some disturbance during the 18th century when the area was heavily planted with trees, this included the creation of Dolbury Clump (on the higher ground of the hillfort) which is a well known feature of Killerton Park. The park is registered Grade II* in the parks and gardens Register.

All fencing and fence posts, gateways, guideposts, pathway surfacings, all fixed benches, and all information boards are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Fox, A, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, (1996), 32
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, (1906), 601
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, (1906), 601

National Grid Reference: SS 97340 00457


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End of official listing