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Blackbury Camp


<b>Blackbury Camp</b>Posted by GLADMANImage © Robert Gladstone
Also known as:
  • Blackbury Castle

Nearest Town:Seaton (6km ESE)
OS Ref (GB):   SY1874092363 / Sheets: 192, 193
Latitude:50° 43' 28.53" N
Longitude:   3° 9' 4.95" W

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Given the right conditions, this is possibly one of the most enchanting prehistoric enclosures you could ever come across, all things considered. In my opinion, a truly wondrous place indeed.

As Carl notes, Blackbury Camp is by no means large. However I prefer the adjective 'compact' to 'little', for this is no minor engineering work, remaining a very powerful univallate fortress. Pieces of flint protruding through the top soil inform the traveller that the hillfort is not in fact an earthwork, which comes as something of a surprise, I guess. Perhaps this has had a bearing on the excellent state of preservation, flint obviously far more resistant to the wear and tear of the myriad visitors who walk the rampart this morning... and presumably every other Sunday. Yeah, the elderly, young mums with children, annoying people walking dogs, a very attractive young lady in very tight jodhpurs (with a 'wiggle' that suddenly becomes a little too pronounced for the good of my health... jeez - I'll say no more)... the whole community seems to be here today, engendering an aura that is perhaps far more representative of the past than the usual Gladman hillfort visit.

What is far from representative, though, is the triangular outwork protecting what was presumably the original main entrance in the southern flank. Medieval castle-heads will no doubt recognise such 'barbicans' designed to counter surprise assaults upon what was always the weakest point of the enclosure... the way in. However such an arrangement as is to be found at Blackbury is rare at prehistoric sites... in my experience, anyway. There is a twist, too, the 'barbican' defences apparently unfinished - or at least destroyed - to the south. Given the very substantial nature of these additional banks and ditch I find it very unlikely that the constructors suddenly decided 'sod this for a game of soldiers, we're offski'. Perhaps a neighbouring warlord decided it was 'now or never' and made a desperate assault before completion. Dunno. Obviously. But what grim tales has Blackbury to tell?

I mentioned at the start 'given the right conditions'. Guess I should explain. Blackbury Camp is lightly wooded, no doubt at its best when sunlight slants through a thin April canopy to illuminate both the twisted roots colonising the defensive bank and the carpet of blue bells adorning the latter's flank, rising above the great ditch. I am lucky, the overcast conditions of mid morning breaking by lunchtime to achieve just this effect. Yeah, you could well walk around Blackbury's ancient rampart in 10 minutes or less. But I'll wager you'll want a couple of hours.... given the right conditions, of course.
6th May 2012ce
Edited 6th May 2012ce

A cracking 'little' Hillfort which is easy to access, well sign posted, with a handy car park with information panel. You can walk around the entire circumfrence in about 10 minutes. Posted by CARL
8th March 2010ce

I really like this interesting little hillfort, I decided to visit it again because it looked similar in size and shape to Mistleberry fort which I had been to yesterday. This is in good condition and complete, unlike Mistleberry which is really knocked about and I believe incomplete.
The southern entrance is a great feature and I have included two photos of it from this visit.
Since Pure joy visited, this is now well sign posted from all directions, well done Devon council, I wish Dorset would do the same.
formicaant Posted by formicaant
12th September 2007ce
Edited 13th September 2007ce

Blackbury Castle / Camp - 27.9.2003

Located just to the North side of A3052 between Seaton and Sidmouth. A relatively simple way to get this English Heritage administered site is via a side road close to the junction with the B3176. However it is not actually signposted from this main road which is a pain if you don't have an OS map. If you do find this lane heading north from the main road, the site is then signposted at the next (left turn), and about 1.5 kms along this road the hillfort lies just south of this narrow lane. At the site itself it is signposted from the westerly direction, but not the easterly so you could miss it! The 1:25,000 OS map calls it Blackbury Camp. The 1:50,000 map calls it Blackbury Castle.

A small car park is located just off the easterly entrance through the large and very impressive ramparts. A board gives the following info, '"An Iron Age hillfort defended by a single bank and ditch forming a rough D-shaped enclosure. A triangular outwork or barbican was added to the South but never completed. The fort was probably occupied between the second and first centuries BC by a cattle farming community".

This is a fantastic and interesting 'hill fort' with impressive defences, and an interesting annexe on the south side. Trees also surround it, and it isn't on the actual top of the hill, but surely would have been quite an imposing structure. Despite being around 185 metres above sea level you cannot see the sea, which is blocked by one more hill to the south. Well worth a visit.
pure joy Posted by pure joy
5th October 2003ce
Edited 5th October 2003ce

Blackbury Camp is an Iron Age 'fort' or settlement site located about a couple of miles north-west of Seaton in East Devon. There is a remarkable sense of solitude at the Camp, surrounded as it is by woodland and farmland. Many locals come here to walk their dogs or let their children run around the largely flat interior.

The banks are still fairly high in this oval shaped camp with entrances located at either end, although these may be modern. The most interesting feature is the main entrance which is still defined by large ramparts that form an almost box shaped entrance. The entrance slopes down towards a slight valley and looks directly out towards higher ground. The 'rear' of the camp is on the higher ground that spreads out to reach the Broad Down Necropolis a mile or so distant.

It's a lovely, shady place to stop off if you are heading down the B road towards Exeter and Dartmoor beyond. The camp is looked after by English Heritage.

johan 2003
Posted by johan
4th September 2003ce


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Blackbury camp Video in HD - graemefield01.
wickerman Posted by wickerman
17th February 2012ce
Edited 17th February 2012ce