Hawkesdown Camp and associated outwork


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017775

Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Mar-1998


Ordnance survey map of Hawkesdown Camp and associated outwork
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: East Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Axmouth

National Grid Reference: SY 26271 91426, SY 26508 91433


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

Reasons for Designation

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. 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. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Hawkesdown Camp is a large univallate hillfort which is located at the very western limit of this class of monument. It bears evidence of Roman attention, hostile or otherwise, and it 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.


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


The monument, which falls into two areas, is known as Hawkesdown Camp. It includes a prehistoric large univallate hillfort with a defended area of about 2.5ha fronted to the east by an outwork. The site is in a commanding position at the western end of a long spur which overlooks the upper estuary of the River Axe on its eastern bank and it has steep natural defences on all sides but the east. The roughly rectangular interior of the hillfort is about 250m in length east-west with a width of about 100m. The natural defensive qualities of the site are complemented by a rampart, which survives 4m high in places, surrounded by a `U'-shaped ditch over 2m deep with a counterscarp bank on the outer lip of the ditch. The counterscarp is in evidence over much of the circuit except on the north west where the steep slope appears to have precluded the need for any additional defences, and on the east where there is an outwork. The dimensions of the rampart and ditch are somewhat greater on the naturally less well defended eastern side where the ditch is in places 6m deep. The main entrance was at the south east angle facing the only level approach from the east. Here the ditches terminate and the end of the eastern rampart is expanded. An outwork which perhaps defended an outer enclosure, lies 100m beyond the eastern defensive circuit and survives as a bank 17.8m wide and 0.4m high. The discovery of Roman lead sling bullets (glandis) in the area of the eastern defences between the outer ditch and the outwork suggests the possibility of an attack during the Roman invasion period or the later use of the abandoned site as target practice for Roman artillery units. All fencing and fence posts, gates and gate posts, and telegraph poles 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. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 29640

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Davidson, J, Antiquities of Devonshire, (1861), 15
Fox, A, Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon, (1996), 35
Holbrook, N, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in Roman Lead Sling-shot from near Hawkesdown Hill Hillfort, (1989), 117-8
Holbrook, N, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in Roman Lead Sling-shot from near Hawkesdown Hill Hillfort, (1989), 117-18
Hutchinson, P O, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Hillfortresses of Devon, , Vol. 2, (1868), 378-9
Hutchinson, P O, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Hillfortresses in South East Devon, , Vol. 2, (1868), 378-9
Wall, J C, 'A History of the County of Devon (Victoria County History)' in Ancient Earthworks, , Vol. I, (1906), 580-81
Title: Ordnance Survey Source Date: 1963 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing