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Berry Castle does not stand alone in the Torridge Valley, but is one of a few small Iron Age enclosures in the area. One or two probably having their origins in the late Bronze Age, while the enclosure at Higher Kingdon, Alverdiscott is likely to have been occupied after the Roman invasion of 43 AD. These enclosures, except for Higher Kingdon, are all located on high ground above the Torridge or above the larger streams which feed the river. Together, they indicate that the area was populated by numerous well-established farming communities who are likely to have had their roots in the Bronze age.

Location of enclosd settlements in the Torridge area.

Bronze Age Torridge

Round barrows, which may have contained burials or cremated human remains in cists (stone boxes) or pottery vessels, are scattered across the region. Some were grouped together in barrow cemeteries. Round barrows were constructed in the Bronze Age era between 2300 - 1200 BC.

There is a significant barrow cemetery on Darracott Moor comprising at least six round barrows.

This site is a nationally important Scheduled Monument and it is illegal to disturb the ground or damage it in any way.

Both chance finds and artefacts excavated by antiquarians suggest that local people may have been in some way involved in a Bronze Age pan- Europe trading network.

Bronze Age Huntshaw dagger from Darracott Moor barrow cemetery.
Darracott Moor barrow, where the Huntshaw dagger was discovered.
Map of Darracott Moor bronze age cemetery.
Bronze age spearhead found near Torrington.

The Huntshaw dagger -excavated in 1875 by George Doe, an amatuer archaeologist from Torrington, was of a design which originated in Central Europe and was copied in Wessex. It dated from 1650-1400 BC and must have been very prestigious possession belonging to a powerful person. Another local find of similar age was a Bronze Age 'hook-tang' spear-head of Cypriot origin; very few examples are found in Britain.

Hillfort of Buckland Brewer

Buckland (Buckland Brewer) SS 43202018

No visible trace of this enclosure now remains, as it has been ploughed away since the land was converted from woodland to arable. It stands on a narrow promontory with stream valleys to the north and south, both of which feed into the River Duntz to the east.

Buckland seems to have been an almost rectangular enclosure protected by a single rampart and ditch with an in-turned entrance to the NW, and measured about 210m by 70m.

It is likely that the site dates from the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age. LIDAR scans have revealed that faint traces of the enclosure remain.

Hillfort of Higher Kingdon, Alverdiscott

Higher Kingdon (Alverdiscott) SS 49152537

A triple-ditched defended enclosure that lies on a ridge, which forms some of the highest ground on the edge of the Torridge valley, with extensive views over Bideford Bay from Hartland to Lundy Island and Croyde.

A Roman marching camp lies adjacent to the enclosure. Nothing remains above ground however a geophysical survey conducted in 2015 has confirmed that a number of likely archaeological features lie within the area of the Scheduled Monument. No dating material was found.

Hillfort of Hembury Castle, Buckland Brewer

Hembury Castle (Buckland Brewer) SS 42711789

 A sub-oval Iron Age enclosure measuring 210m by 125m overall with no obvious entrance.

The enclosing rampart has been almost completely destroyed leaving the ditch, 1.2m deep and the outer counterscarp bank, 0.8m high, the only prominent features. The site has been damaged in the past by ploughing and buildings now occupy its southern side.

Ring Down (Frithelstock) SS43641921

A small near-circular hillslope enclosure situated on rising ground to the east of the River Duntz.

It consists of a single bank which merges into the natural slope of the hill and has a diameter of about 68 m.

There is no trace of a ditch or entrance as the enclosure has been almost completely ploughed out, although the southern section of the bank is visible as a cropmark and on LIDAR scans.


Gaze Castle was described as a simple defensive enclosure by T.C. Wall, a Victorian antiquarian who studied many similar sites in Devon. It is said to occupy a ridge one mile south of Berry Castle in a field called Castle Field on Priestacott Farm. It has now been destroyed by cultivation.

Hillfort of Castle Hill, Beaford

Castle Hill (Beaford) SS 52341681

The remains of an Iron Age hilltop enclosure, situated on the summit of a promontory above a bend in the River Torridge. The monument survives as an oval enclosure measuring 220m by 110m with a single rampart and ditch, with a partial counterscarp or outer bank along a portion of the eastern side. There is evidence for an entrance to the north-eastern side.

Research has suggested that Castle Hill may also have been the site of the battle of Cynuit in 878 AD, at which the West Saxons, under their leader Odda, routed a force of invading Vikings.

Hillfort of Ten Oaks Wood, Roborough

Ten Oaks Wood (Roborough) SS 56151699

An Iron Age hilltop enclosure, situated on the summit of a steep inland spur and surrounded on three sides by the valley of a stream, which loops around its base.

The monument measures 1 00m by 70m and consists of an oval enclosure surrounded by a ditch up to 1.6m deep and 6.0m wide with an outer bank (counterscarp) 0.6m high by 5.0m wide. The ditch and bank are well preserved except at the north where cultivation has destroyed the area where the entrance must have been.

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