The Old Redoubt and later Victorian Rifle Range Target, 540m south west of Berry Head Fort
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1021430
Date first listed: 14-Mar-2000
Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jun-2010
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Torbay (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SX 94134 56113
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
The upheavals following the French Revolution and the general political situation in France at the end of the C18, coupled with the Napoleonic Wars of 1800-1815, sparked a very real fear in England that an invasion might be mounted by the French. By 1803-05, when the threat of invasion was greatest, the decision had already been taken to revive and heavily strengthen the defences of the south and east coasts of England in anticipation of a French naval attack. At Berry Head, work was underway as early as 1794 on the recommisioning of batteries first constructed in 1780, as a response to the threats arising from the American War of Independence. A new fort, Berry Head Fort (SM 29694) was under construction before the end of the century and the redoubt (now known as The Old Redoubt) was considered a requirement as a further landward defence of the fort and shore batteries. It formed part of a very strong defensive network and, together with Berry Head Fort and Hardy's Head Battery, represents a major and rare survival from the Napoleonic era on the south coast of England. The garrisoned redoubt, of which The Old Redoubt is an example, is a particularly rare form of redoubt which only flourished as a fortification type during the period of the Napoleonic Wars. The monument has defensive walls which are exceptionally well preserved and it provides information relating to the strategic military thinking at a time when the threat to English naval power and the country as a whole was considered great. It provides a visible reminder of the seriousness with which this threat was taken. The Old Redoubt is particularly well documented with plans and accounts of its construction being held at the Public Record Office and a major study having been published on its fortifications. This information complements the standing remains and enhances the research value of the monument. By contrast there is very little documentary evidence relating to the Victorian rifle range beyond its establishment sometime around 1861 by the Royal Naval Reserve and later use from 1906 by the Brixham Artillery Volunteers. Despite this, partial archaeological excavation has revealed that the target trench survives very well and important archaeological information concerning the use of the range is preserved in the distribution of bullets within and around the target. The survival of an earlier prehistoric field system confirms the multi-period character of the monument and enhances its importance.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes The Old Redoubt and a later Victorian rifle range
target. The Old Redoubt is a detached, substantially built and garrisoned
redoubt constructed towards the end of the C18 in response to the threat of
an invasion by the French under Napoleon Bonaparte. It lies 540m to the south
west of the main fort and battery at Berry Head. Such forts and
fortifications built during this period are generally referred to as
Napoleonic. Strongly defended, detached and garrisoned redoubts were briefly
fashionable during this same period. The walls of the redoubt are Listed
Grade II* and its artillery magazine is Listed Grade II. This form of redoubt
(essentially an outwork designed to provide a strongly defended point in
advance of a larger fortification) was intended to act as additional landward
cover for Berry Head Fort in the event of an invasion; the coastal battery of
the fort in turn provided a seaward defence of the Torquay harbourage.
Contemporary plans of the Berry Head defences, believed to have been designed
by Lt-Col Alexander Mercer show that, initially, three forts (numbered 1-3)
were planned for the defence of Berry Head. Ultimately only two were
constructed, these being the northern fort (Fort 3 on the main promontory now
known as Berry Head Fort, SM 29694) and the southern fort (Fort 1, The Old
The redoubt was provided with heavily defended angled walls on its three
landward sides, the cliff face providing a natural defence for the fourth,
seaward side. This enclosed an internal area of about 1.3ha. The built
defences were provided by a dry moat which extends around the landward sides
of the redoubt from cliff edge to cliff edge. It varies in width from 5.2m to
6.2m and is revetted on its vertical outer face, being a maximum 2.8m deep.
Beyond the northern length of the moat is an artificial defensive slope
(glacis) designed to provide additional protection for the side most
susceptible to attack. The moat fronts a wall of Devonian limestone with a
granite string course. The wall survives to its full height which is about
4.7m on the south west and north west sides, both of which are embellished
with multiple splayed gun embrasures; behind each embrasure is the sunken
site of a gun platform. The northern wall, which reaches a maximum exterior
height of about 5.2m, has no embrasures as it was covered by Berry Head Fort;
its interior parapet height is 1.2m. Although the cliffs provide the seaward
defence, a musketry wall was built to cover the southern slopes behind the
cliff top. The redoubt was originally entered by a drawbridge on the northern
wall and was replaced by a later earthen causeway. Fittings for the
drawbridge survive and have been recorded. The redoubt was decommissioned
around 1817 and despite dismantling of the timber structures, some of the
buildings of the Napoleonic era survive including an unroofed powder magazine
of limestone with a granite door surround. Evidence from its interior walling
shows that it once supported a brick lined barrel-vault roof. The magazine is
surrounded by an anti-blast enclosure wall. The battery and blast wall are
Listed Grade II. Other ruinous buildings in the interior include a guardroom
and storehouse, a kitchen, an oven house built into the southern musketry
wall, and the foundations of part of a barrack block. The Old Redoubt was
known to have been completed by 1804 and there is no record of it ever having
contained coastal batteries; this would appear to confirm its purpose as a
redoubt intended to repel a land attack on the batteries defending Torbay
Nestling under the northern wall of the redoubt are the partially excavated
remains of a target built to serve a rifle range established at Berry Head
some time after 1865 by the Royal Naval Reserve. Excavation has revealed a
rectangular trench faced by coursed limestone walling. Within the structure a
brick built store room survives in the north eastern corner, a drain with
metal grate in the south east corner and three pairs of protruding metal
bolts adjacent to the southern wall probably form part of the target
mechanism as do three slots cut into the upper part of the southern wall. The
targets would have been hoisted above this trench by operators sheltering
within. The first targets were made from iron, but these were replaced in
later years by canvas ones. The earth backstop behind the targets would have
consisted of a bank of material upcast during the quarrying of the trench.
When the range was abandoned sometime after 1913, the earth backstop was
pushed into the open target trench. Excavations have revealed that the range
was used for rifle and pistol training and preliminary analysis of the
bullets confirms that the range was not in use after around 1913.
Within the southern part of the fort, a series of at least four low rubble
banks, one of which is clearly overlain by the redoubt bank, may represent
the truncated remains of a field system. Enough remains to indicate that the
system consists of small rectangular fields of prehistoric appearance and an
Iron Age date would seem most likely.
Excluded from the scheduling are all fixed benches, information panels, CCTV
infrastructure and all fencing, although the ground beneath these features is
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 29695
Legacy System: RSM
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