MDE1247 - Myrtleberry North Camp (Monument)


An Iron Age promontory enclosure of 0.28 hectacres, bounded on three sides by precipitous slopes. The fourth side comprises a univallate earthwork with a probable entrance at its northern end.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

(SS 743487) Earthworks shown but not described. [1] Known as Myrtleberry North, this is a univallate hillslope enclosure of about 1 acre, with entrance on its west side. There is an outwork about 160 paces south-west, with a probably original entrance traversed by an existing footpath. Whybrow suggests the outwork and enclosure comprise a multivallate Hillfort. [2,3] An Iron Age hillslope enclosure (not a multivallate hillfort) occupying a fairly level position at a spur end is bounded on three sides by precipitous slopes. The fourth side comprises a univallate work with a central causewayed ditch which probably represents the entrance; although there is a cut on the north west side of the inner work, the origin of which is not clear. A supplementary univallate 'cross ridge' work 150.0 metres to the south west with a simple causewayed entrance is presumably coeval. Resurveyed at 1:2500. [4] Myrtlebury North Camp is 73.2 metres long and 43.9 metres wide.It is a multivallate spur fort dating to the Iron Age. The fort is situaated in the northeast corner of the spur and is defended on the northwest and south sides by a rampart and ditch with an overlapping entrance; the east side is defended naturally by a precipitous slope. Part of the main rampart and ditch has been damaged by quarrying but otherwise condition average for the Exmoor area. [5] Site in good condition. A classic spurend site, of which an excellent view can be obtained from the south of Wind Hill. A level platform within the enclosure appears to represent a housesite. The area between the enclosure and the cross dyke (MDE20173) was at the time of the visit covered with high bracken and brambles. A band of slightly different vegetation running parallel with the cross dyke and roughly equidistant between it and the enclosure could hint at a second cross dyke. [6] SS 7428 4877. A settlement consisting of an oval enclosure and associated crossridge earthwork probably of Iron Age origin. The site is a scheduled Ancient Monument: the enclosure Devon No.709A and the crossridge earthwork Devon No.709B [7]. The settlement, some 1.45 hectares in area, occupies the top of a steep sided promontory about 185 metres above sea level surrounded by the deciduous Myrtleberry Wood [6]. The promontory, or spur, some 300 metres long and 50 to 100 wide, projects northeastwards overlooking a U bend in the East Lyn River and it is enclosed by slopes on all sides except the southwest. The gently sloping summit area is covered by rough grass and bracken with scattered scrub [8]. ENCLOSURE (SS 7433 4833) The enclosure, is situated at the northeast end of the spur. Its western side is formed by an earth and stone rampart, 4.2 metres wide, which rises some 1.4 metres above the bottom of an outer ditch. The rampart is topped by an earth and stone bank, 3 metres wide and 0.6 metres high, formed from the ditch spoil. The ditch is 4.8 metres wide with outer scarp 1.0 metres high and slight traces of an outer bank. On the northern side the earthworks are similar though less well defined. Along the east and southeast the steep natural slopes, probably emphazised by deliberate scarping, form its boundary. The simple entrance, about 3 metres wide, is in the northwest where there is a slight causeway over the ditch. The enclosure has been mutilated by several prospecting trial pits (costeans) and their associated spoil heaps which were excavated in the search for iron in the late 19th Century (MDE11669). To the immediate east of the entrance one of these pits occupies the ditch, with its spoil heap obscuring the top of the rampart. There is a smaller pit internally to its immediate east. Another elongated pit has been excavated just outside the entrance causeway. Spoil from these pits overlying the earthworks has probable led to the erroneous interpretation of the entrance as `overlapping' by some authorities. At the southern end of the earthwork a third pit, 2 metres deep, is quarried into the ditch bottom and the spoil dumped on its northern side has completely infilled a section of the ditch causing Whybrow [3] to confuse it as an entrance. Internally the enclosure measures about 74 metres north to south by 40 metres, an area of some 0.28 hectares. The interior slopes gently down to the north and appears to have been partly subdivided by a curving scarp, about 2 metres high. This scarp, which could be natural, cuts across the southern third of the enclosed area forming a platform about 30 metres north to south by 25 metres internally which is open at the northwest end. Levelled into the slope at the northeast side of this open end are the faint turf covered footings of a rectangular structure, about 7.5 metres northwest to southeast by 3.5 metres. There is no apparent entrance and the feature appears to be a later structure. Due east, abutting the inside of the main bank, are two short lengths of turf covered stony banks, 1.5 metres wide and 0.5 metres high at best. There is a similar internal feature, 12 metres or more long, some 7 metres south of the entrance. These may be contemporary with the rectangular structure as they appear to be constructed on top of the bank. Apart from this the interior appears featureless apart from an old footpath, now disused, which crosses the site from the north-north-east to the south-south-west. CROSS-RIDGE EARTHWORK (SS 7422 4868) Some 150 metres southwest of the enclosure cutting across the widening southern summit of the promontory is an outwork in the form of a cross-ridge earthwork oriented northwest to southeast amd some 82 metres in length. It is formed by a ditch, 10.5 metres wide and 1.4 metres deep, with inner stony bank, 5.5 metres wide and up to 1.2 metres high. The near central entrance shown is probably a modern break for the footpath. The original entrance appears to have been at the extreme northwest end where, unlike the southeast end which terminates at the top of the steep wooded slopes, the earthwork terminates some distance before reaching the top of the steep natural slopes leaving a substantial gap. Outside this entrance are the remains of a linear trial pit for iron (contemporary with those defacing the main enclosure to the south) which has disturbed the ditch and encroached on the earthwork. Set into the slope behind the bank topping the rampart is a small circular platform, about 3 metres in diameter and 1 metre high, which overlooks the entrance and may be an original feature [8]. It seems likely that the access to the settlement was along a hollow way which approaches the outworks from the south, runs across the spur 22 to 29 metres south of the ramparts and swings round northwards through this gap and into the internal area where a terrace, 3 metres wide and some 40 metres or so long, is flanked by a scarp on its northwest side. The route then continued along the top of the western slopes to the enclosure entrance at its northwest angle. The vegetation in the area between the outwork and the enclosure has recently been cleared by the National Trust. There are no traces of any other features or the "band of slightly different vegetation" seen by Griffith [6] and thought to hint at a possible second cross dyke. There appears to be no reason to doubt that the cross ridge earthwork is not an integral part of the settlement and that the whole is a contemporary work of one period, probably the Iron Age. *Note: The settlement is not named on the Ordnance Survey plans however the woods, etc from which it takes its name are spelt "Myrtleberry" [9,10], so the spelling "Myrtlebury", quoted in [7,8], would appear to be incorrect. 1:2500 Survey revised. [11-15] A resistivity survey was carried out in December 2010 and January 2011, covering an area of approximately 1200 metres square. In all 4 survey grids were conducted each measuring 20 metres square. A high resistance analomy in the northeast corner of grid A may be evidence of an Iron Age hut circle. Also within grid A is a distinct void that may be evidence of a pit or ditch. Overall the resistance survey did not produce evidence of highly visible architectural features. [17] Enclosure occupies fairly level position at spur end, bounded on three sides by precipitous slopes, fourth side comprises univallate work with central causewayed ditch, which presumably represents the entrance. Although there is a cut on northwest side of inner work, the origin of which is not clear. Supplementary cross ridge work is presumably coeval. [18] Stable condition. Under rough grass and bracken with trees at the northern end. [19] SS 74294876. Remains of late prehistoric multiple enclosure fort. The site 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. Scheduling amended. [20] Small spur enclosure with a substantial western rampart, which has a bank constructed on top in places. Some evidence for an additional bank outside ditch. Platform on level area in south part of enclosure probably later. Only moderately effective as defensive enclosure as it is looked down on from hillslopes beyond. West side protected by substantial cross-bank. Holloway runs between entrances in cross bank, and on northwest side of enclosure. Completely overlooked by Wind Hill, 0.5 kilometres away. [21] The purpose of the outer enclosure is not certain although it could be for stock control; it is unlikely to be purely defensive as it is overlooked by higher ground. [22] Myrtleberry North and South are in National Trust ownership. Myrtleberry North is located on a spur above Lyn Gorge with an outwork which is overlooked so is unlikely to have been defensive. NTSMR Nos 100257-9. [33] The earthwork remains of the probably Iron Age hilltop enclosure known as Myrtleberry North can be seen as earthworks on aerial photographs of the 1940s onwards. They have been transcribed as accurately as possible as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme survey. [23,35] A vegetation clearance programme was undertaken by the National Trust in 2008 to deal with scrub growth. [36] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 4. [37] The site was surveyed in May 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 9. [38] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [39] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [40]

Sources/Archives (39)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited.
  • <3> Article in serial: Whybrow, C. 1967. Some multivallate hillforts on Exmoor and in North Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Exploratio. 25. P. 9 plan 8.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Fletcher, M.J.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, 7 November 1973.
  • <5> Index: English Heritage. 1913-. Schedule of Monuments. 1969.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Griffith, F.. 11/02/1989. Site Visit Report: SS74NW 4 & 4:1..
  • <7> Index: English Heritage. 1987. County List of Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Devon 18.
  • <8> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1976. 1:2500. 1:25,000. Sheet SS 7448.
  • <9> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1888, Devon Sheet 3(14).
  • <10> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1904, Devon Sheet 3(14).
  • <11> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1994. Myrtleberry North settlement/ink survey . 1:2500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 13 June 1994.
  • <13> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I. and Wilson-North, R.. 1996. Myrtleberry/pencil survey . 1:500. Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <14> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I. and Wilson-North, R.. 1996. Myrtleberry/ink survey . 1:500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <15> Collection: RCHME Exeter. 1993-1999. Exmoor Project.
  • <16> Technical drawing: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Myrtleberry.
  • <17> Report: Wolfkamp, V.. 2011. Myrtleberry North Camp, Exmoor National Park, North Devon. A Geophysical Survey.
  • <18> Index: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1973. SS74NW 14. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. 14.
  • <19> Report: Timms, S. C.. 1980. Site visit. Site visit.
  • <20> Unpublished document: Various. Scheduled Monument Notification . English Heritage Scheduling Amendment, 16/10/2002.
  • <21> Monograph: Walls, T.. 2000. Earthwork Enclosures in North East Devon and their Late Prehistoric Landscape.
  • <22> Report: Salvatore, J.P.. 2002. English Heritage Monument Protection Programme. 144549..
  • <23> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 (F20) 4046-7 (11 April 1947).
  • <24> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 2579.
  • <25> Article in serial: Grant, N.. 1995. The Occupation of Hillforts in Devon during the Late Roman and Post Roman Periods. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 53. P. 106.
  • <26> Aerial photograph: Griffith, F.. 1980s-1990s. Oblique aerial photographs of the Devon part of Exmoor National Park. LD 9 & 10.
  • <27> Monograph: Fox, A.. 1996. Prehistoric Hillforts in Devon. Devon Books. P. 44-5.
  • <28> Aerial photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1991. DAP/UB Devon Aerial Photograph. 7-8. 7-8.
  • <29> Monograph: Riley, H. and Wilson-North, R.. 2001. The Field Archaeology of Exmoor. English Heritage. 65 & Fig 3.19.
  • <30> Unpublished document: Ancient Monuments. 2002. Site Visit.
  • <31> Report: Thackray, D. + Thackray, C.. 1986. Lynmouth: Foreland Point, Countisbury Hill and Watersmeet, Devon. National Trust Archaeological Survey Report. Site 100252. 7. P. 9.
  • <32> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7448C.
  • <33> Report: Berry, N.. 2003. Archaeological and Historical Landscape Survey of West Lyn Farm, Lynton. National Trust Archaeological Survey Report. P. 3.
  • <34> Report: Berry, N.. 2004. Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of Kipscombe Farm, Countisbury. National Trust Archaeological Survey Report. P. 3.
  • <35> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173.
  • <36> Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2009. Monument Management Scheme: 2008-9 Report. P. 11.
  • <37> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <38> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <39> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35179, Extant 13 December 2021.

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS74NW/4
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 5345
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 687
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20052
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO77
  • Local List Status (No)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW14
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • National Trust HER Record: MNA108013
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35179
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): 709A
  • Scheduled Monument (County Number): 709B



Grid reference Centred SS 7428 4876 (187m by 205m) Surveyed
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Dec 13 2021 4:49PM


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