<< Our Photo Pages >> Hembury Castle - Hillfort in England in Devon

Submitted by AngieLake on Wednesday, 05 April 2023  Page Views: 13195

Iron Age and Later PrehistorySite Name: Hembury Castle
Country: England County: Devon Type: Hillfort
Nearest Town: Buckfastleigh
Map Ref: SX7263868449
Latitude: 50.501951N  Longitude: 3.797262W
Condition:
5Perfect
4Almost Perfect
3Reasonable but with some damage
2Ruined but still recognisable as an ancient site
1Pretty much destroyed, possibly visible as crop marks
0No data.
-1Completely destroyed
3 Ambience:
5Superb
4Good
3Ordinary
2Not Good
1Awful
0No data.
4 Access:
5Can be driven to, probably with disabled access
4Short walk on a footpath
3Requiring a bit more of a walk
2A long walk
1In the middle of nowhere, a nightmare to find
0No data.
4 Accuracy:
5co-ordinates taken by GPS or official recorded co-ordinates
4co-ordinates scaled from a detailed map
3co-ordinates scaled from a bad map
2co-ordinates of the nearest village
1co-ordinates of the nearest town
0no data
5

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I have visited· I would like to visit

TheCaptain visited on 26th Feb 2023 - their rating: Cond: 4 Amb: 4 Access: 4 A nice sunny afternoon, after Sunday lunch at Scorriton and a walk out to Bench Tor, I decide to go and have a look at Hembury Castle before heading home. What a lovely place, old woodland with a hilltop iron age fort, modified and updated with a Norman Motte. In places the ramparts are huge, presumably increased for the Motte & Bailey castle. Lovely.

lauraaurora visited on 29th Oct 2021 - their rating: Amb: 4 Access: 4

sophiewilder visited on 1st Jan 2005 - their rating: Cond: 3 Amb: 4 Access: 4

Catrinm visited - their rating: Cond: 3 Amb: 4 Access: 4



Average ratings for this site from all visit loggers: Condition: 3.33 Ambience: 4 Access: 4

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by TheCaptain : The southern defences (Vote or comment on this photo)
Hembury Castle is a prehistoric hillfort near Buckfastleigh, not to be confused with the better known Hembury near Honiton in Devon. It also contains the remains of what is thought to be a small medieval castle constructed within the defences of the prehistoric fort.

The hillfort lies in Hembury Woods near Buckfastleigh on the southern fringes of Dartmoor. Its position is 600 ft above sea level at the south-east end of a ridge, with the land dropping sharply on all other sides. In prehistoric times it would have commanded wide views across the South Devon countryside.
Denbury Camp lies 9 km to the east.
The siting of Hembury Castle on the fringes of Dartmoor raises the idea that, in prehistoric times, it might have been a base for the storing and trading of minerals, especially tin. Its proximity to the River Dart, wihch would have given a water-borne connection to the south coast, adds support to this suggestion.
We know that the South-West peninsula had overseas trading links in prehistoric times. Two Greek coins dating to the 4th and 1st centuries BC and found near Holne hint at the possibilities of such trading. A hoard of prehistoric iron currency bars has also been found in Holne Chase.
The defences of Hembury Castle enclose an area of some 17 hectares (7 acres) with a maximum internal dimension of 300 metres. These defences consist of an inner rampart surrounded by a ditch, on the outer edge of which is a second rampart. The surviving height of the ramparts [remember this was in 1999] gives an impression of their original size, bearing in mind that they will have slumped back into the ditch over the last 2000 years.
[Up until 1999] there has been no archaeological excavation at Hembury and the construction details of the ramparts are therefore not known. It is likely that they would have had an earthen core possibly faced in places with stone rubble. A timber palisade would have been built along the top of the inner rampart to give added protection. (The stone wall which runs along the inside of much of the rampart today [1999] is a more modern feature.)
Though there are several modern gaps through the ramparts, Hembury seems to have had a single entranceway which can still be seen on the south-east side. This gave access down to the River Dart, emphasising the potential importance of the river to the hillfort.
The interior today [1999] is rough grazing land with clumps of gorse and scattered tree cover. No obvious foundations of prehistoric structures can be seen, but survey work by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England has revealed slight traces of foundations of at least four round houses.
(All above info taken from leaflet which was copyright to Devon Archaeological Society, 1999.)

Source: Devon Archaeological Society printed in 1999 (in association with The Dartmoor Trust and the National Trust), at the time the site was owned by the National Trust. I'm sure they won't mind us having this info and the scanned leaflet for our research.

I did visit this site back in the 1980s, but was not into prehistory then. Hopefully, with a friend now living in Buckfast, I may get to visit this hillfort sometime.

Update October 2019: This hillfort is featured on the Prehistoric Dartmoor Walks (PDW) website - see their entry for the Hembury Castle Fort.

The hillfort is also recorded as Pastscape Monument No. 444797 and as MDV7776 (Hembury Castle Hillfort) on the Devon and Dartmoor HER. The site is also scheduled as Historic England List Entry No. 1003859 (Hembury Castle).
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Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by TheCaptain : View to the north and east across the enclosure from the top of the Norman motte (3 comments - Vote or comment on this photo)

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Bladup : Hembury Castle, Showing the steep [and high] sides of the forts bank. (Vote or comment on this photo)

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by TheCaptain : The Norman Motte within the iron age enclosure (Vote or comment on this photo)

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by TheCaptain : The southeastern defences (Vote or comment on this photo)

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by TheCaptain : The southwestern defences

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by TheCaptain : The western ramparts, near the modern entrance

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine : Photo taken in 2010

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine : The info board, 2010

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine : 2010

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine : More earthworks, 2010

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine : Photo taken in 2010

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine : More earthworks, 2010

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Antonine : Part of the Norman motte within the ramparts, 2010

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Catrinm : Entrance Hembury May2021

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Bladup : Hembury Castle, The interior of the fort.

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Bladup : Hembury Castle, Earthworks inside the fort.

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by Bladup : Hembury Castle, This bank is part of the upper defences in the fort, They're thought of as medieval castle remains but there was clearly something there long before then, So therefore the medieval remains are built on something far older [as is often the case].

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by AngieLake : Leaflet for Hembury Castle, Buckfastleigh. Inner pages. (C) D.A.S. 1999. This leaflet - showing examples of other prehistoric sites in vicinity - was being given away free during an exhibition for Open Day at a local archaeological dig at Ipplepen.

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by AngieLake : Hembury Castle, Buckfastleigh. Leaflet's outer pages. (c) D.A.S. 1999. (There may be a more up to date one of these, which was being given away free at an Open Day exhibition during a local archaeological dig at Ipplepen.)

Hembury Castle
Hembury Castle submitted by caradoc68 : Site in Devon: Hembury castle (the danish camp), just north of Buckfast "devon" SX 725 684. Good little hillfort hiddern away way in Hembury wood, a site worth visiting>. Has very steep rampart bank, 20 feet in some places, a scrape the other side of the ditch. Inside the fort there is a small motte & bailey in the south west corner.

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