Myrtleberry North Camp, a late prehistoric multiple enclosure fort 200m north west of Waters Meet House
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1020805
Date first listed: 10-Nov-1969
Date of most recent amendment: 16-Oct-2002
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: North Devon (District Authority)
Parish: Lynton and Lynmouth
National Park: EXMOOR
National Grid Reference: SS 74282 48748
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Multiple enclosure forts comprise an inner and one or more outer enclosed
areas, together measuring up to c.10ha, and defined by sub-circular or sub-
rectangular earthworks spaced at intervals which exceed 15m; the inner
enclosure is usually entirely surrounded by a bank and ditch. The forts date
mainly to the Late Iron Age (350 BC-c.AD 50) and in England usually occur in
the south west. Most are sited on hillslopes overlooked by higher ground near
a water supply, and many were apparently used for periods of up to 250 years.
The outer enclosures of the forts are usually interpreted as areas set aside
for the containment of livestock, whilst the inner enclosures are generally
thought to have been the focus of occupation.
The earthworks usually include a bank with an outer V-shaped ditch 1m-3m deep.
Entrances are generally single gaps through each line of defence, often
aligned to create a passage from the outer to the inner enclosure, although
there are a few examples where entrances through successive earthworks are not
in alignment. Occasionally the interval between the gaps is marked by inturned
ramparts or low banks and ditches, while the outer entrance may be screened by
a short length of earthwork. Excavations within the inner enclosures have
revealed a range of buildings and structures, including circular structures,
hearths, ovens and cobbled surfaces as well as occasional small pits and large
depressions which may have functioned as watering holes.
Multiple enclosure forts are relatively rare with only around 75 examples
recorded in England, mostly in Devon and Cornwall. Outside these counties
their distribution becomes increasingly scattered and the form and
construction methods more varied. They are important for the study of
settlement and stock management in the later prehistoric period, and most
well-preserved examples will be identified as being of national importance.
Despite some disturbance caused by the digging of iron mining prospecting pits, Myrtleberry North Camp survives well as a rare example of the cross bank type, with both of its enclosures clearly defined by a combination of earthworks and scarping of the natural slopes. It is part of a group of diverse and broadly contemporary monuments in the immediate area which give an indication of the nature of settlement during the later prehistoric period. The monument will retain archaeological evidence, both within the interior of the enclosures and within the ramparts and buried ditch deposits, which will be informative about the monument, the landscape in which it was constructed and the lives of the inhabitants.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a late prehistoric multiple enclosure fort known as
Myrtleberry North Camp. Multiple enclosure forts were first classified by
Lady Aileen Fox and the example at Myrtleberry North is of the cross bank
type which are typically located on spurs or promontories. This monument
comprises an inner enclosure defined partly by a bank and ditch and partly
by scarping, and an outer, larger enclosure defined by the natural breaks
of slope coupled with a bank and ditch which cuts across the neck of the
spur upon which the site is located. Both of the enclosures are considered
to be Iron Age in date and they are thought to be contemporary.
The inner enclosure occupies the north end of a north east facing spur which overlooks a steep-sided loop of the East Lyn River, whilst the outer enclosure occupies the remainder of the relatively flat spur before it rises sharply to the south west. The enclosures thus have steep natural slopes on all sides except on the south west approaches where they are overlooked by rising ground; it is on this side that the cross bank is located, some 150m forward of the inner enclosure. The defences of the broadly contemporary promontory fort of Countisbury Castle are clearly visible above the valley slopes on the other side of the East Lyn River. The roughly oval inner enclosure occupies the terminal end of the natural spur and it measures about 74m by 40m giving an internal area of nearly 0.3ha. The artificial boundary of the enclosure is most clearly defined on its western side by a rampart which has a maximum width of 4.2m and which is 2m high in places above the bottom of its associated ditch. The ditch is 4.8m wide at its widest point with an outer scarp about 1m high; there are slight traces of a counterscarp bank. The remainder of the circuit appears to have been created by the scarping of the natural valley slopes. The original entrance is on the north west side where there is a 3m wide gap in the rampart with a slight causeway over the ditch; other entrances are considered to be modern. The interior of the enclosure appears to be sub-divided by a 2m high scarp which creates a platform about 30m by 25m at its southern end. The inner enclosure of a multiple enclosure fort is usually considered to have been the focus of settlement and that is likely to have been the case here. The outer enclosure is defined almost entirely by natural slopes, which are likely to have been artificially steepened by scarping, except at the south west where a bank and ditch traverse the spur for a distance of about 82m leaving a gap at the western end which is thought to be the original entrance; a more central gap in the earthwork is considered to be modern. The bank has maximum dimensions of 1.2m in height by 5.5m in width. It is fronted by a ditch some 10.5m wide and 1.4m deep although natural infilling of the ditch over the course of two millennia will have concealed its true depth. The relatively flat area of ground providing the outer enclosure is about 150m by 50m, or 0.75ha. Such outer enclosures are usually considered to have been used for the coralling of stock. It seems likely that access to the enclosures was along a hollow way which approaches from the south and enters the outer enclosure through a gap at the western end of the cross bank. The hollow way continues parallel with the spur directly to the entrance of the inner enclosure; it varies in width between 2m and 4m on average. There are a number of trial prospecting pits (known as costeans) for iron ore located around the site; these are thought to be 19th century in date. Several are recorded in or around the inner enclosure with at least one dug several metres into the bottom of the ditch on its south west side. The spoil from this delving has completely infilled a section of the ditch. Further workings are recorded down the slope to the north west of the entrance to the inner enclosure and forward of the outer enclosure although these lie outside the scheduling. All fixed notice boards 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: 33054
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), 65
Riley, H, Wilson-North, R, The Field Archaeology of Exmoor, (2001), Fig3.19
Fox, A, 'Antiquaries Journal' in Hillslope Forts and Related Earthworks in SW England and S Wales, , Vol. 30, (1952), 152-55
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