Berry Cliff Camp


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Berry Cliff Camp
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

East Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SY 18840 88204

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.

Berry Cliff Camp displays many of the features of a slight univallate hillfort. The monument will contain archaeological information relating to the construction and use of the site, the lives of its inhabitants, and the landscape in which they lived.


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort known as Berry Cliff Camp. The site is located on the cliff edge on Littlecombe Hill south west of Branscombe village. It has a near rectangular area of almost 3ha defended on the landward side by a single rampart fronted by a ditch with a counterscarp. The flat interior of the hillfort is about 290m east-west by 100m north-south. It was defended by an earthen rampart which incorporates flint nodules and which survives in places on the northern and eastern side to a maximum height of 1m with a maximum width of 4m. This rampart is fronted by a `U'-shaped ditch 4.5m wide with a maximum depth of 1.1m. A counterscarp is visible beyond the ditch on the northern section of the defensive circuit; it is 4m wide and 0.7m high although most of it is incorporated into a hedgebank. The main rampart along the western and north western side has been cut back on its inner face to form a hedgebank and the ditch on the western side is visible but mostly infilled. A counterscarp beyond the ditch on the west has been slighted and is now visible only over a short stretch of its former length with a height of about 0.5m. Both rampart and ditch are visible along the stretch of the eastern defences but the counterscarp here is absent or has escaped detection. The curvature of the defensive circuit suggests that it may have continued to enclose the monument on all sides but erosion of the cliff face may have removed the line of defences on the southern seaward side. Alternatively, the cliff face may have provided a natural defence in antiquity making the construction of a southern section of the defences unnecessary. The hillfort, which is of a class often provided with two entrances, has only one confirmed entrance which has been surveyed and described in 1989 by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME). It is of inturned type on the north western angle of the circuit of defences. The eastern inturn is seen as an elongated bank 14m long, 6m in width and 0.6m in height; the corresponding inturn on the west, providing an entrance way of 2m-3m in width, is not so well defined but is nevertheless visible. Some redundant post-medieval hedgebanks survive as low linear earthworks in the interior of the hillfort just behind, and parallel with, the northern defences. Outworks to the east of the monument were originally thought to represent contemporary enclosures associated with the hillfort but these have been shown during archaeological investigation by the RCHME to be post-medieval field boundaries. These features are no longer considered to be part of the monument and are not included in the scheduling. All fencing and fence posts, stiles, gates and gate posts, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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


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

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Legacy System:


Books and journals
Griffith, F, Devon's Past: An Aerial View, (1988), 70
Hutchinson, P O, 'Journal of the British Archaeological Association' in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, , Vol. 18, (1862), 54
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, , Vol. I, (1906), 575
UID 762179, RCHME Survey, (1989)


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

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