Two prehistoric hilltop enclosures, a ditch system and four bowl barrows, 300m north of Barton Pines Inn


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020162

Date first listed: 21-Jun-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Mar-2002


Ordnance survey map of Two prehistoric hilltop enclosures, a ditch system and four bowl barrows, 300m north of Barton Pines Inn
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Torbay (Unitary Authority)

County: Devon

District: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Marldon

National Grid Reference: SX 84915 61535


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

Reasons for Designation

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. In view of the rarity of hilltop enclosures and their importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

Despite damage by ploughing, the two prehistoric hilltop enclosures and their associated ditch system 300m north of Barton Pines Inn survive well. Their banks and ditches will contain stratified remains relating to their construction and use; information necessary for the future understanding of the monument. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400 to 1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Despite ploughing, the barrows' mounds and surrounding ditches will contain stratified remains relating to their construction and use. Central burials may survive intact beneath the mounds.


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


This monument includes four Late Neolithic to Bronze Age bowl barrows, overlaid by a complex group of prehistoric settlement and stock enclosures surrounding two hilltop enclosures. It is located on a flat hilltop and gentle west-facing slope, with wide views in all directions. The monument survives as slight earthworks, some preserved in later hedgebanks, with many buried features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. The most prominent feature is a pair of large ovoid enclosures whose broad banks and surrounding ditches lie on the hilltop and run down the gradually steepening slope to the north. The northern of these enclosures is surrounded by a bank which measures 20m wide and survives up to 0.5m high, with an outer ditch 18m wide and 0.15m deep. It had three entrances, two of which survive as breaks in the outer ditches visible as cropmarks on the south and west sides, while the third survives within the wood at the northern edge of the scheduling. Here, a curving hornwork measures 10m wide, rising 1m from the interior and falling 2m into the steep valley to the north. The entrance is 20m wide, with the north rampart of the enclosure projecting to flank the hornwork and running along the contour to the west. Here it measures 10m wide, rising 0.4m from the interior and falling 2.5m to the valley slope below. A later hedgebank follows the rampart. The second enclosure abuts the first on its south side and has ramparts and ditches of similar size to the first. The ditch on the south side becomes a pair of narrower ditches, joined at their terminals on either side of an entrance, which measures 8m wide. A counterscarp bank on the west side measures 20m wide and survives 0.5m high with a narrow outer ditch. This bank projects beyond the north western corner of the enclosure to flank and protect the western entrance to the northern enclosure. An intermittent north-south aligned ditch 2m wide divides the southern enclosure, and at its northern end against the outer ditch a small enclosure 15m square is surrounded by two shallow concentric ditches 1.5m wide. At the south east corner of the enclosure, a hollow 15m diameter and 0.2m deep remains damp throughout the year. A ring ditch is visible here as a cropmark on aerial photographs, cut by the inner ditch on the west side of the enclosure. It measures 8m in diameter and has a ditch 2m wide. This is likely to represent a plough-levelled round barrow. To the south and west of the site, straddling the road, is a series of complex ditched enclosures, visible as cropmarks, with the banks faintly visible as a low earthworks. The largest of these enclosures is aligned ENE to WSW and measures a maximum of 150m wide and 410m long with a droveway 20m wide leading away from its eastern end. Its banks survive best on the west end and north side where they measure 15m wide and up to 0.5m high, with the outer ditch varying between 2m and 6m wide. Double lines of ditch, visible as cropmarks on the south east side, show that an inner ditch was also present, measuring 1m wide. An entrance was located on the north west side, where a gap in the cropmark ditch is 8m wide. This is interpreted as a stock enclosure. Three Late Neolithic to Bronze Age bowl barrows lie close to this enclosure, surviving as low mounds between 35m and 45m in diameter and up to 0.5m high. One is respected by the enclosure's northern bank, where it turns into the droveway. On the west side of the site, the ground falls away at a shallow angle. Two concentric rampart lines here respect the profile of the west side of the two central enclosures. The first forms an intermediate rampart and lies between 40m and 70m from the inner enclosures, surviving as an abrupt change in slope, followed by a later hedgebank. This falls 2m to an outer ditch 10m wide, 0.3m deep and 240m long, which cuts across the long stock enclosure on the south side of the site. The second has a bank 20m wide and up to 1m high with an outer ditch 8m wide. This continues south of the road, where its bank measures 10m wide and 0.2m high. Here it forms a funnel with the southern stock enclosure, before bending sharply away to the west. Between the two concentric ramparts, traces of another ditched enclosure are visible as a cropmark, abutting the intermediate rampart. The modern road surfacings, fenceposts and a concrete reservoir on the south side of the site are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 33796

Legacy System: RSM


Devon Air Photo Project, SMR, (1973)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

End of official listing