Aerial surveys are under way to uncover history from above at some of North Devon’s most at risk ancient hillfort heritage sites.

The Coastal Heritage project, managed by the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) team, has been awarded a £16,000 grant from the Historic England Monument Management Scheme to survey coastal hillforts within the AONB.

The images, captured by drone, will offer an exciting opportunity to view these hillforts from previously unseen perspectives.

Data from the survey will be presented in digital 3D models, available online and displayed during events.

The work is being conducted by Aerial Cam Ltd, in partnership with Cotswold Archaeology at five iron-age hillforts at Embury Beacon and Windbury Hillfort in the Hartland area, plus Hillsborough hillfort in Ilfracombe, Bucks Mills and Clovelly Dykes.

The Coastal Heritage Project offers volunteers the opportunity to undergo training in the use of practical archaeological skills as well as to conserve and assess the condition of the heritage sites.

It has a particular-focus on coastal hillforts, the history of Hartland and World War II features.

Joe Penfold, AONB heritage officer said: “At ground level, the remains of ancient monuments can sometimes difficult to see, but from above you can really begin to appreciate their scale, complexity and how they might once have looked.

“The North Devon coast has a number of enigmatic ‘promontory’ iron-age hillforts, revealed through aerial survey.”

Charlotte Russell from Historic England added: “Using such hi-tech survey to record these sites in 3D will not only give us an opportunity to understand new information about them, but will also provide a highly detailed record for the future, in the face of on-going losses of the sites to coastal erosion.

“We are delighted that the results will be available to everyone both on site at information posts and online.”

A public meeting to showcase aerial images of the coastal hillforts will be taking place on Thursday, April 11 at 7pm at Hartland Parish Hall. Entry is free and everyone is welcome.

If you have a passion for heritage and would like to get involved in the Coastal Heritage Project visit or email us at or email