Clovelly Dykes hillfort


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


Ordnance survey map of Clovelly Dykes hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Torridge (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 31129 23486

Reasons for Designation

Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between 5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection of the power struggle between competing elites. Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances although examples with one and more than two have been noted. These may comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts, oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered, for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fencelines, hearths and ovens. Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture occurred on many sites. Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded nationally. These occur mostly in two concentrations, in Wessex and the Welsh Marches, although scattered examples occur elsewhere. In view of the rarity of large multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period, all examples with surviving archaeological potential are believed to be of national importance.

Despite agricultural activity and other development over the years, Clovelly Dykes hillfort survives well and is one of the most impressive hillforts in Devon. Unusually for the county, it does not sit on top of a hill, but instead commands an important strategic position on a plateau overlooking Bideford Bay.


This monument includes a sub-triangular multivallate hillfort situated on the summit of a high upland ridge which has no naturally defended sides but which does command far reaching views in all directions and excellent sea views. The monument survives as a series of enclosures, demarcated by rampart banks and ditches. The innermost enclosure is sub rectangular in shape with an entrance to the east; the rampart measures up to 2.1m high, and the ditch survives as a buried feature. The second enclosure is concentric to the first with entrances to the east and south east. The rampart to this stands up to 3m high, the outer ditch is up to 3.5m deep. The outermost enclosure is roughly triangular in plan and has a steep rampart up to 3m high. The outer ditch survives as a buried feature to the east, and south, but is up to 3m deep on the western and northern sides. There is a curving overlapped entrance to the north. Within the outer enclosure the hillfort seems to have been subdivided by two smaller ramparts which run approximately north to south on the western side, the banks attain a height of up to 2.5m and the accompanying ditches are both preserved as buried features. To the north west a large farm with its associated buildings has cut into the outer rampart and ditch. A large number of modern structures and features are excluded from the scheduling; these are roadside signs and a sign for the nearby garage, a letter box, telephone and electricity supply poles, the farmhouse, a series of outbuildings including garages, covered yards and hard core, all tarmac and concrete surfaces, a group of cottages all other modern structures and all road surfaces; the ground beneath all these features is, however, 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.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS32SW5, (1991)


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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