Ancient Ruins And Forts In Devon: 10 That You MUST Visit

Devon is home to numerous ancient ruins and forts, many of which are popular with guests staying at the Langstone Cliff Hotel.

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Devon Has Lots Of Ancient Ruins And Forts - These Are Our Favourites

Based on our own experiences and those from our valued clientele, we have put together a guide of (what we think) are the best ancient ruins and forts in the beautiful county of Devon.

Devon has some fascinating history and heritage, which is celebrated in many of the ancient ruins and forts throughout the county. Here are a few of our favourites within close proximity to the hotel.

Hembury Castle Hill Fort, Buckfast

25 miles (approximately 45 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Hembury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort that covers approximately 7 acres of land. It is located to the south-east of Dartmoor, within the National Trust’s Hembury Woods.

It is believed that this ancient hill fort dates back to the 11th century and boasts a motte and an inner bailey. Its strategic position near to the River Dart means there would have been excellent access to the sea, which would have been important for trading during that era.

Although there is no official record of an attack, Roman remains have been discovered at Hembury Castle, along with stones that would have been used in a slingshot. This suggests that conflict may have taken place here in the past.

Another tale that is not officially recorded is that of a Viking attack on Hembury during the Dark Ages. It is suggested that after the Vikings took control of the fort, the women of Hembury befriended them and then slit their throats as they slept, allowing the local men to defeat the remaining Vikings and reassume control of the fort.

Where To Park Near Hembury Castle Hill Fort:

Hembury Castle Hill Fort is located within Hembury Wood, near the Dartmoor village of Buckfastleigh.

There are two car parks nearby (one to the north and one to the south of the fort) which are operated by the National Trust. The car park to the north offers easier access to the fort and is only a 5 minute walk away.

If you are walking through Hembury Woods, you will periodically see signposts that direct you to the fort.

Spinsters’ Rock Burial Chamber, Drewsteignton

30 miles (approximately 45 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Widely regarded as the best preserved burial chamber in Dartmoor, Spinsters’ Rock stands proudly in a field near the village of Drewsteignton.

Although Spinster’s Rock now stands alone, archaeologists discovered other ancient rows and stone circles on nearby Shilstone Common. This indicates that there would have once been additional burial chambers on display, all of which have collapsed or eroded over the years.

The three supporting stones measure between 1.7m-2.3m high, with the large capstone measuring 4.5m in length and weighing an estimated 16,000kg!

A local fable suggests that it is called Spinsters’ Rock because it was erected by three spinsters while they were waiting for their wool. How true that is we will never know, but what we do know for sure is that the burial chamber collapsed in 1862 and was restored by the local townsfolk.

Where To Park Near Spinsters’ Rock Burial Chamber:

Spinsters’ Rock Burial Chamber is located around 2 miles outside of Drewsteignton village, near to Shilstone Farm.

As you approach Shilstone Farm with the buildings on your left, there is a small layby which can accommodate several cars on your right.

The burial chamber can be found behind the hedge from the layby.

Cranbrook Castle Hill Fort, Drewsteignton

25 miles (approximately 55 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Cranbrook Castle Hill Fort is the first of three hill forts (the others are listed below) situated along the River Teign and overlooking the Teign valley. It is 2km from Prestonbury Castle Hill Fort and 3km from Wooston Castle Hill Fort.

Situated 337m above sea level, this ancient hill fort occupies a commanding position that offers breathtaking views across the Teign Gorge and Dartmoor Hills.

Reaching the top can be challenging and will require a decent level of stamina, with a mile-long incline taking around 30 minutes to complete. There is a bench situated approximately halfway up, giving walkers a chance to rest their legs and take in the wonderful scenery.

Where To Park Near Cranbrook Castle Hill Fort:

Cranbrook Castle Hill Fort is located near the hamlet of Easton.

To park nearest to Cranbrook Castle Hill Fort, you must take the country lane from the A382 in Easton heading in the direction of Cranbrook. As you approach the forestry road on your left, there is a small triangular junction which allows parking for 2-3 cars. From there, the hill fort is a short walk away.

Wooston Castle Hill Fort, Drewsteignton

25 miles (approximately 50 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

The second of the forts overlooking the River Teign and Teign valley is Wooston Castle Hill Fort. It is 3km from Prestonbury Castle Hill Fort and 5km from Cranbrook Castle Hill Fort.

It is positioned on a promontory which gives good visibility across the Teign Gorge, Dartmoor and beyond. It is estimated that all three hill forts were occupied as long as 2,500 years ago.

Of the three hill forts, Wooston Castle is at the lowest point. It is situated below the top of the hill, occupying a strategic location some 200m above sea level.

Where To Park Near Wooston Castle Hill Fort:

Wooston Castle Hill Fort is located within Fingle Woods.

The nearest parking to Fingle Woods is on an unnamed road between Clifford Bridge and Wooston. As the road forks into two, there is parking immediately and another spot a short way along the road.

Prestonbury Castle Hill Fort, Drewsteignton

25 miles (approximately 50 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

The third and final fort that overlooks the River Teign and the Teign Valley is Prestonbury Castle Hill Fort. It is 2km from Cranbrook Castle Hill Fort and 3km from Wooston Castle Hill Fort.

While the inner works of this ancient hill fort were completed, it seems that the outer works were never finished, with the fort’s defences being strengthened by a 20ft wide ditch.

Of the three hill forts along the River Teign, Prestonbury Castle is the second-highest, elevated 240m above sea level.

Where To Park Near Prestonbury Castle Hill Fort:

Prestonbury Castle Hill Fort is located on the opposite side of the River Teign to Cranbrook Castle and Wooston Castle.

It is just a 300m walk from Prestonbury Castle to the Fingle Bridge Inn, where parking is available for customers.

Nine Maidens Stone Circle, Belstone

35 miles (approximately 55 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Dating back to the Bronze Age, Nine Maidens is an ancient stone circle located in the village of Belstone.

There are actually 17 stones present at this historic site, which goes some way to explaining why it is also known as Seventeen Brothers.

The remains of what was a burial chamber are visible within the circle, though it is believed that the chamber was destroyed – a theory that is supported by the spoil heap that lies near to the stone circle.

Where To Park Near Nine Maidens Stone Circle:

Nine Maidens Stone Circle is within walking distance of Belstone village, with car parking available opposite Belstone Post Office and near The Tors Inn.

From both of these parking locations, Nine Maidens Stone Circle is less than a mile on foot and well worth the effort.

Blackbury Camp Hill Fort, Southleigh

30 miles (approximately 60 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Blackbury Camp Hill Fort was constructed during the 4th century BC and was inhabited by Iron Age tribes. It occupies a wonderful position on a spur of land that overlooks the River Coly and its tributaries.

The remains of other ancient buildings have also been found on this English Heritage site, though none are as significant as the fort itself. Arguably the most eye-catching attribute of Blackbury Camp Hill Fort is the barbican-like extension that guards the main entrance.

Although this hill fort was able to be defended, it is unlikely that it was used as a permanent settlement. It is believed that it would have been used as a livestock enclosure and meeting place for the tribes.

Where To Park Near Blackbury Camp Hill Fort:

Blackbury Camp Hill Fort is located about 2 miles outside of Southleigh village.

Situated on a minor road, there is a small parking area near the site that offers easily accessible access to this wonderful ancient hill fort.

Grimspound, Yelverton

30 miles (approximately 60 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

There are thousands of historical sites on Dartmoor, and Grimspound is widely regarded as one of the (if not the) finest.

The remains of 24 stone-built roundhouses are the main attraction, along with a 3-metre thick perimeter wall.

When excavation took place in the 19th century, evidence of humans inhabiting the area was found in many of the huts, leading experts to believe that the other huts were used for housing livestock.

Grimspound’s claim to fame is that it provided the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when he penned his Sherlock Holmes novel “The Hound Of The Baskervilles”.

Where To Park Near Grimspound:

Grimspound is located approximately 5 miles from the hamlet of Postbridge, in the heart of Dartmoor National Park.

When taking the B3212 from Postbridge towards Lettaford, take a right turn onto Woden’s Way. Continue on Woden’s Way for approximately 1 mile and you will see a small layby on your left. From there, Grimspound is around half a mile walk.

Scorhill Stone Circle, Chagford

30 miles (approximately 60 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Scorhill Stone Circle is located near the hamlet of Gidleigh and was previously referred to as Gidleigh Stone Circle.

What makes Scorhill Stone Circle stand out from the many other stone circles in Devon is that it has remained relatively untouched, giving it a feeling of ancient aura.

Many tales and stories are told about the history of Scorhill Stone Circle, though the fact that the sun sets behind the tallest standing stone on Midsummer Eve may be more than just a coincidence.

Where To Park Near Scorhill Stone Circle:

Located on the outskirts of Gidleigh, the nearest parking to Scorhill Stone Circle is next to nearby Scorhill Farm.

From here, follow the footpath (at the first fork, turn left, and at the second fork, turn right) for approximately 500m until you reach the ancient stone circle.

Grey Wethers Stone Circles, Chagford

35 miles (approximately 60 minutes by car) from Langstone Cliff Hotel

Standing at the highest point on Dartmoor, the Grey Wethers Stone Circles are a pair of bronze age monuments. Other monuments in the group include five cairns (3 x round and 2 x ring) and an oval enclosure – all of which have been granted Scheduled Ancient Monument status by Historic England.

From a distance, the stones look like flocks of sheep grazing. With sheep being referred to locally as “wethers”, the name of this ancient monument makes sense.

There are many differing tales told locally about this stone circle, with arguably the most famous being of a local drunk man who paid good money for a flock of premium sheep. Once he was sober, he returned to collect his sheep, only to find that he had in fact paid good money for a collection of immovable stones.

Where To Park Near Grey Wethers Stone Circle:

Due to its isolated location, it is not possible to park within close proximity to Grey Wethers Stone Circle, so be prepared to walk for some time.

We recommend parking at the parking area of Fernworthy Forest. The walk is signposted, but it is approximately 4 miles walk from the parking area to Grey Wethers Stone Circle.

Allow around 3 hours for the walk itself (1.5 hours out and the same back). This estimate may need to be adjusted based on walking ability.

Book Your Stay In South Devon

You’ll find our family-run hotel set within 19 acres of woodlands, right on the beautiful south coast of Devon. Thanks to our stunning location, the Langstone Cliff is the only choice when it comes to enjoying a beautiful South Devon hotel getaway.

With multiple room options, a wide range of food & drink outlets and entertainment choices for the whole family, it is easy to see why we have been the number one choice in South Devon for so long.

Overlooking the Exe Estuary, we are the only Dawlish hotel that is surrounded by luscious lawns and gardens, not forgetting the magnificent sea views that lead down to the golden sandy beaches and the Warren. Our hotel’s reputation is unrivalled and it is something the Owners (the Roger’s family) are extremely proud of. With the beach just a short walk away via a public footpath and the internationally famous nature reserve at Dawlish Warren nearby, why would you want to stay anywhere else?

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