Woodbury Castle


With its impressive ramparts and associated ditch, Woodbury Castle is one of the largest and most well-known archaeological monuments in Devon. Due to its historical interest it is designated a Scheduled Monument (SAM No. DV61).

Sited on the western border of the Pebblebed heaths, Woodbury Castle was built in various phases over about 200 years and covers an area of about two hectares. The structure comprises double ramparts and ditch which originally would have been associated with substantial timber palisades. Geophysical survey work in 2009 has revealed the presence of possible round houses within the structure. By the time the hillfort was complete most of the landscape was likely already denuded of trees so the views from its elevated position (175m above sea level) would have been commanding. It probably served as the stronghold of chiefs who ruled the surrounding lands between the 6th and 4th centuries BC (early-middle Iron Age); these same chiefs may also have been buried in one of the many nearby tumuli or burial mounds that occur on the heaths. The heyday of the fort ended over three hundred years before the Roman invasion.

Parts  of the site were excavated in 1971 by Henrietta Miles and details of the findings were published in 1975 in the proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society, with further investigations undertaken in 2009. Several finds have been recovered from the site overtime, including a bronze broach of trumpet form and a bronze age palstave (toolhead).

The monument is cut into two unequal parts by the B3180 with the largest section (approximately ¾ of the site) to the south-east of the road.  There are two car parks adjacent to the hillfort, and access is free and enjoyed by large numbers of local people annually. A mature beech plantation covers the eastern area of the site and is now a much-loved landscape feature. Due to the pressure of use, there has been significant erosion of the site over the years to the main earthworks, with restoration work undertaken in 2009 after approval from the Secretary of State for Culture and Media.

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