Beacon mound at Fire Beacon Hill, 250m north west of Bosomzeal

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019949

Date first listed: 07-Nov-2001

Map

Ordnance survey map of Beacon mound at Fire Beacon Hill, 250m north west of Bosomzeal
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1019949 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 15-Oct-2018 at 16:27:23.

Location

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

County: Devon

District: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Dittisham

National Grid Reference: SX 86211 53825

Summary

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

Reasons for Designation

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the country. Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was in decay by the mid-17th century. Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon. More unusual beacon types include stone enclosures and towers, mainly found in the north and south west of England. Some beacon sites utilised existing buildings such as church towers. Beacons were built throughout England, with the greatest density along the south coast and the border with Scotland. Although approximately 500 are recorded nationally, few survive in the form of visible remains. Many sites are only known from place-name evidence. Given the rarity of recorded examples, all positively identified beacons with significant surviving archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.

The beacon mound at Fire Beacon Hill, 250m north west of Bosomzeal is unusually well-preserved. The mound and its buried surrounding ditch will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its construction and use in the contemporary landscape. The recent erection of a cresset on the mound represents the continuity of use as a beacon site.

History

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

Details

This monument includes a beacon mound of 16th century date, on the crest of a high spur, overlooking the estuary of the River Dart. The mound is conical, measuring 15m diameter and 3m high with a flat top 1.5m across. It lies on the east side of a deep lane, running north-south, whose bank abuts the mound. A buried ditch approximately 3m wide will enclose the mound. A modern beacon post has been sunk into the mound; fires are occasionally lit in its iron basket to mark important events. The modern road surfaces, where these impinge on the mound's 2m protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 33791

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Russell, P, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Fire beacons in Devon, , Vol. 87, (1955), 281
Other
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

End of official listing