Iron Age hilltop enclosure at North Hill Cleave, circa 400m north-east of Outer Narracott Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
North Hill Cleave, circa 400m north-east of Outer Narracott Farm.


Ordnance survey map of Iron Age hilltop enclosure at North Hill Cleave, circa 400m north-east of Outer Narracott Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
North Hill Cleave, circa 400m north-east of Outer Narracott Farm.
North Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


The earthworks and buried remains of an agglomerated Iron Age hilltop enclosure located on an east to west running ridge directly adjacent to North Hill Cleave, circa 400m north-east of Outer Narracott Farm.

Reasons for Designation

The Iron Age hilltop enclosure at North Hill Cleave, circa 400m north-east of Outer Narracott Farm, is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Period: as one of a relatively limited number of sites characteristic of the early Iron Age; * Rarity: with around 30 examples of hilltop enclosures recorded nationally its survival is important in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities; * Survival: despite reduction in its height through cultivation and some limited quarrying, it survives well as upstanding earthworks and buried remains; * Potential: it will contain both archaeological information which will contribute to our understanding and knowledge of the social organisation of the area during the prehistoric period along with environmental information about the surrounding landscape; * Documentation: archaeological reports published in the late C20 have increased our understanding of the significance of the enclosure; * Group value: its close association with nearby funerary monuments and its commanding position on the summit of ridge indicates its importance to the local area.


Hilltop enclosures are defined as sub-rectangular or elongated areas of ground, usually between 10ha and 40ha in size, situated on hilltops or plateaux and surrounded by slight univallate earthworks. They date to between the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth-fifth centuries BC) and are usually interpreted as stock enclosures or sites where agricultural produce was stored. Many examples of hilltop enclosures may have developed into more strongly defended sites later in the Iron Age period and are therefore often difficult to recognise in their original form. The earthworks generally consist of a bank separated from an external ditch by a level berm. Access to the interior was generally provided by two or three entrances which consisted of simple gaps in the rampart. Evidence for internal features is largely dependent on excavation, and to date this has included large areas of sparsely scattered features including post and stakeholes, hearths and pits. Rectangular or square buildings are also evident; these are generally defined by between four and six postholes and are thought to have supported raised granaries. Hilltop enclosures are rare, with between 25 and 30 examples recorded nationally. A greater number may exist but these could have been developed into hillforts later in the Iron Age and could only be confirmed by detailed survey or excavation. The majority of known examples are located in two regions, on the chalk downland of Wessex and Sussex and in the Cotswolds. More scattered examples are found in north-east Oxfordshire and north Northamptonshire. This class of monument has not been recorded outside England.

The first known interpretation of the origins of the agglomerated enclosure located to the north-east of Outer Narracott Farm was undertaken by RJ Silvester in 1978 (see SOURCES) who suggested that it was constructed at two distinct periods during the Iron Age. It is believed that the first phase comprised an oval-shaped enclosure with cross banks and an outer bank on its west side. A more strongly defended outer enclosure is thought to have been added at a later date. This comprised a large north-south aligned bank constructed on the west side of the oval enclosure along with a further bank to the south, on a east-north-east to west-south-west alignment. However, archaeological investigation by the Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit in 1992 (see SOURCES), prior to the laying of a water supply pipeline across the northern extremity of the field in which the enclosure is located, uncovered the northern side of an inner embanked enclosure in the form of a substantial buried ditch and eroded bank. The discovery of this third conjoined enclosure indicates that the site is probably more complex than Silvester originally thought and it is possible that further extensive below-ground remains are likely to survive. During the C19 and C20 the south side of the enclosure was slightly disturbed by quarrying.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The earthworks and buried remains of an agglomerated Iron Age hilltop enclosure located on an east to west running ridge directly adjacent to North Hill Cleave, circa 400m north-east of Outer Narracott Farm.

DESCRIPTION This agglomerated hilltop enclosure is comprised of at least three conjoined enclosures. At the centre is an oval-shaped enclosure which measures 60 metres long east to west by 34m wide north to south. It is defined by banks which measure up to 6m wide and 1.2m high. Attached to its west side is a second enclosure which is the largest of the three, measuring 196m long from north to south by 135m wide from east to west. It is denoted by banks standing up to 0.4m high and 1.2m wide. On its western side there is also a ditch which is up to 4.5m wide and 1.2m deep, but which peters out to both the north and south. The south-eastern corner of this larger enclosure has been disturbed by modern quarrying, with the spoil heaps and quarry pit occupying an area which measures 45m long from east to west and 28m wide from north to south; the pit is up to 2.6m deep. Leading from the quarry is a ditch which measures up to 4.5m wide and 1.2m deep. This is defined on its eastern side by a bank up to 1.2m wide and 0.4m high. A third embanked enclosure adjoins the northern side of the central oval enclosure and the north-east side of the larger second enclosure. Partial excavation in 1991 revealed the buried remains of its northern boundary in the form of a curvilinear ditch some 77m long. It has a V-shaped profile and is 2.3m wide and 1.6m deep, with the outside edge notably steeper than that of the inside. The likelihood of an entrance on the western side of this enclosure was revealed by the presence of a small outer bank. Its eastern boundary is not well-defined by earthworks although it is likely that the slight scarps represent the remnants of a former bank on that side. Lying to the west of the enclosure, in the adjoining field, there is an outer bank which stands to a height of less than 0.5m with a ditch shown as a slight undulation.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The scheduling aims to protect the hilltop enclosure and surrounding archaeologically sensitive area. The constraint line mainly follows the inside edge of the existing field boundaries to the north, east and south while the western extent extends slightly into the adjoining field. The maximum extent of the monument is about 380m east to west by 240m north to south.

EXCLUSIONS All modern fences, fences post and cattle troughs are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.


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

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Books and journals
Silvester, RJ, 'A Hillslope Enclosure at Collamoor, Bittadon' in Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society, , Vol. 36, (1978), 176-190
South West Water Combe Martin Water Supply: Archaeological Assessment of a Hillslope Enclosure at North Hill Cleave, Bitttadon, 1991, Weddell, PJ, Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report No. 91.62
South West Water Combe Martin Water Supply: Archaeological Recording of a Hillslope Enclosure at North Hill Cleave, Bitttadon, 1992, Reed, S, and Pearce, P, Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report No. 92.19


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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