The aim of this website is to inform, update and bring awareness of how historically rich this site is and why it should be preserved for future generations to enjoy and possibly witness for themselves. This is why the Hembury Management Team has been brought together with an aim to preserve Hembury Fort using our expertise, skills and knowledge to accomplish this goal.
Hembury Fort is a Scheduled Monument (No. 29660) and survives in exceptionally good condition with well defined circuit of defences surrounding the entire monument. It was deemed as 'High Risk' on the English Heritage's 'At Risk Register' and was recognised as on of the highest priority sites in Devon. The site shows evidence of settlements dating back to the Neolithic period, used as an Iron Age Fort and as a base for the Roman army in the middle of the 1st century AD.
The plan for the Hembury Management Team is to preserve the site with great sensitivity to the sites archaeology, biodiversity, trees and scrubland. The site has been entered into a Natural England Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) funded scheme, which provides funding over a 10year period (Agreement AG00630132), until completion in 2022.
The current team comprises of and not exclusively of; Ecologic, Blackdown Hills AONB, Historic England (previously English Heritage) and English Nature (previously Natural England). Together this team can work towards completing the HLS scheme and preserve the site for the future.
Hembury Hillfort, an ancient East Devon landmark close to the town of Honiton, was for many years overgrown and lost from view. This is the story of one man’s quest to secure its future for the nation, balancing the needs of the natural environment whilst safeguarding its historical importance.
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The Lord Lt. of Devon and fellow Hillfort owner, David Fursdon met the team at Colliton Barton Conference Centre, a very well equipped and welcoming facility run by Mr and Mrs McArdle. After a quick cuppa and catch-up the group which included representatives from Blackdown Hills ANOB, Natural England, Historic England, Bournemouth University, Devon Archaeology Society, Ashfords Solicitors, Jim Cawsley (local folk singer), Chris Chapman (photographer and filmmaker), Daniel Jevons, George Greenshields (Ecologist) and family members of the forts owner, all whom have been involved in the recent work to secure the forts future. The group then travelled the short distance up to the fort entrance to watch David Fursdon unveil one of two new information signs recently installed and celebrate what has been achived. After the unveiling by David, we walked up on top of the fort for an excellent breakfast prepared and served by Alan Bruford's Bush Craft Team, which was hugely appreciated. The morning's weather was perfect and the gathering celebrated a new phase of Hembury Fort's history and the securing of its future with the recent work completed.
This spring we will carry out a programme of timber removal at Hembury Hill Fort.
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Don't miss the chance to listen to this episode of Open Country about the Tale Valley from BBC Radio 4. There's some very interesting facts about Hembury Fort and it's surrounding area that you might
never have had the opportunity to hear about.
Hembury fort stands at the end of a spur projecting boldly southward from the main plateau of the Blackdown Hills. It is defended and protected on three sides by steep natural slopes, leaving only narrow neck of level land on the north. What remains of the earthworks of an Iron Age multivallate hillfort overlying the remains of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure that are still evident today. It's location was almost certainly chosen for its natural defensive qualities and the views across the Otter Valley.
Hill forts are found across Britain and western and northern Europe. They were built as fortresses, most of them providing safe living space for large numbers of people. These forts were surrounded by large walls and/or ramparts, some like Hembury have deep ditches in front of the ramparts. Other great examples of hill forts are places like Maiden Castle and Hambledon Hill both in Dorset.
The primary aim of the project is to reduce the risk to the Scheduled Monument; to reverse the current declining condition trend leading eventually to a monument that is at low risk and in a stable condition. Due consideration of other factors including biodiversity, public access and landscape value should be incorporated at all times.
What is crucial to the plan is that it recognises all of the interests across the site – the archaeology, biodiversity, scrub and trees, and seeks to integrate the conservation and enhancement of all these interests throughout the management process.
There have been two archaeological digs, one in the early 1930's by Miss Dorothy Liddel and the other in the early 1980's by Malcolm Todd. The digs provided evidence of Iron Age usage and Todd's later excavations showed evidence of a Roman military presence. Many of the artefacts found during these digs are on display at the Royal Albert Museum in Exeter, where there is a section on the Hembury ware Gabbro pottery and other items found.
More recently there has been a test Geophysics survey carried out by Bournemouth University in preparation more extensive survey at a later date. We look forward to the results from these and will publish them when possible.
We also are aiming to link up with Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum, to showing you some of the artefacts found at Hembury during past excavations and what the museum have on display and in their archives.