Stunning hillfort ‘saved’ from being lost forever

Clovelly Dykes hillfort has been restored and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2020. Pi

Clovelly Dykes hillfort has been restored and removed from the Heritage at Risk Register in 2020. Picture: Damian Grady/Historic England - Credit: Damian Grady/ Historic England

A stunning hillfort in North Devon is no longer at risk of being lost forever.

Clovelly Dykes is one of 53 historic buildings and sites in the South West to have been saved according to data released by Historic England today (Thursday October 15).

The hillfort, which unusually does not sit on top of a hill, but instead commands a strategic position overlooking Bideford Bay, is a large and complex Iron Age hillfort.

Its deep ditches and steep ramparts are challenging to manage, and as a result has been on Historic England’s At Risk Register for many years due to the impact of damaging vegetation, scrub trees and bracken.

Historic England awarded the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty a grant for a Monuments Management Scheme, a partnership project to improve the condition of the monument and increase public involvement.

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The project brought together specialist contractors and a volunteer task force to remove the scrub and bracken, reducing the risk to buried archaeology.

It also uncovered new information - research by the North Devon Archaeological Society and new drone and geophysical surveys confirmed an extraordinary level of archaeological information at the site, underlining its importance to our understanding of life in Iron Age Britain.

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Rebecca Barrett, Historic England’s regional director in the South West said: “In challenging times such as these, heritage can provide a sense of continuity and bring us solace. We also know that investing in historic places can help boost our economic recovery.

“The 53 places rescued from the register this year show us that real progress is being made – sites lovingly rescued and brought back into use as new homes, businesses and community spaces.

“But there is still a long way to go and many more historic buildings and places which need the right care and attention, funding, partnerships and community support to give them a brighter future.”

Winsford Hospital near Holsworthy is also off the ‘at risk’ list after being restored by the Landmark Trust.

There are no new entries on the register for North Devon, but two Torridge churches have been added.

The Grade II listed Church of St Helen at Abbotsham is described in ‘poor’ condition with water penetration through its parapets and historic fractures to south tower wall causing rot to timbers, fracturing and failure of masonry bonding to south transept gable end.

The Church of St Nectan at Hartland is also now listed as ‘poor’, with water penetration through the south aisle walls and tower walls, damaging internal monuments and mortar as well as causing damp and rot to timbers.

You can find out what other local sites are on the at risk register at

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