Cadbury Castle


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


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Mid Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 91328 05258

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.

Cadbury Castle occupies an imposing location and commands views in all directions. Despite some reduction in the height of its inner rampart through cultivation, it is well-preserved. Its strategic location was continually understood throughout history, with evidence relating to possible Roman and later historical reoccupations. The excavation of a small shaft revealed important artefacts which serve to underpin its importance. The monument will contain archaeological evidence relating to its construction, use and subsequent reuse, together with environmental information concerning the local area, throughout the later prehistoric and historic periods.


This monument includes a slight univallate hillfort, with additional later earthen ramparts, situated on the summit of a prominent hill overlooking the valleys of The Burn and three tributaries to the River Exe. It affords an excellent vantage point with views in all directions. The monument survives as an oval enclosure defined by a rampart and outer ditch, to which a second rampart and ditch have been added to its eastern, southern and western sides, and beyond which lies a further outer bank, confined to the south. The inner enclosure measures up to approximately 120m long east to west and 95m wide north to south internally. To the north this is defined by a rampart which measures up to 3m high externally, to which the later rampart is appended at the north west and towards the east. To the west and south the rampart still survives up to 7.7m wide and 2.2m high externally. Although a modern entrance has been cut in the north eastern side to facilitate access, the original entrance probably lies more to the south east, where the rampart gradually peters out. The construction of the second rampart enclosed a larger area to the east, south and west and consequently, the outer ditch was modified to produce a curving flat area measuring up to 12.9m wide. The outer rampart on the south, west and east sides measures up to 3m high externally. There is a modern entrance cut partially through this on the southern side to facilitate access. Around this outer rampart lie the largely buried remains of a ditch which measures up to 9m wide and 0.3m deep and is visible on all sides of the hillfort; it probably also merges with the original ditch to the north and east. The remains of an outer bank beyond this ditch are discernible to the south where it measures up to 12.5m wide, 0.6m high and peters out to the west and east. An excavation of 1843 produced coins, beads, bracelets, pottery, finger rings and a 17th century sword. They reputedly came from material used to backfill a shaft some 58 feet deep of which there is now no trace, and this material may have originated from a destroyed barrow. This is also the likely site of a moot, or open-air court, which was responsible for administration and organisation of the Anglo-Saxon and medieval countryside. The hillfort was known to have been reoccupied by Fairfax in 1645. It was also depicted on Donn's map of 1765. There are a series of field boundary banks, stock proof fences and gateways surrounding the hillfort which 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. 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:
Legacy System:


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS90NW9, (1999)


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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