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


Ordnance survey map of The Old Redoubt and later Victorian Rifle Range Target, 540m south west of Berry Head Fort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Torbay (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Brixham

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 Redoubt). 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 harbour. 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 included.

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

End of official listing