Country houses for sale

An incredibly rare chance to buy your own Iron Age hillfort with ‘significant archaeological, conservational and ecological value’

Your eyes do not deceive you. Upon first glance, the ancient monument known as Hembury Fort Cross could well be mistaken as just a verdant hilly slope coated in trees. However, there's a lot more to it than first meets the eye.

Granted, buyers searching specifically for an Iron Age hillfort may be scarce. Maybe you didn’t even know you were a buyer searching specifically for an Iron Age hillfort until now. Maybe you didn’t know what a hillfort (or ‘hill fort’ if you prefer— both terms are used) was until now; you wouldn’t be alone. Either way, Hembury Fort Cross is sure to cause intrigue.

It’s certainly not the normal sort of thing you’ll see on the property portals, not least because there is no form of dwelling included within the 38.8-acre area at Hembury Fort Cross, near Honiton, Devon, which is currently on the market via Savills at a guide price of £100,000. But digging a little deeper unearths a fascinating history.

Agents Savills have delved into Historic England’s scholarly pages for their research, describing hillforts as being amongst ‘the most striking of all archaeological monuments in England.’ Many were built and occupied during the period from about 900 to 100 BC, at a time when our island was divided into numerous tribal territories. Hillforts were well-defended settlements, ancient earthworks made up of defensive banks.

And as hillforts go, Hembury Fort Cross is up there with the best, according to its Historic England listing: it’s in ‘exceptionally good condition’ with a ‘well defined circuit of defences’ causing the site to have huge archaeological significance and importance.

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This particular hill fort was constructed on the site of a far older site, a former Neolithic causewayed enclosure (no shame in googling that one, though this link will save you the bother) that’s between seven and eleven thousand years old. The hillfort also played a role beyond the Iron Age, being occupied by the Roman Army in 1st century AD.

The site, which is part of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been managed since 2014 by Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, under which works have been carried out in order to preserve and transform the fort, including the biodiversity and landscape value of the site as a whole.

Penny Dart, who is overseeing the marketing of Hembury Fort Cross for Savills’ Exeter office, points out the unusual nature of the listing.  ‘It is incredibly rare for a site of such importance to reach the open market,’ she says.

‘A significant heritage asset, the landscape is also rich in ecological and environmental value. From the open heathland ridge, which offers outstanding views over Dartmoor and the south coast, mature woodland slopes away, providing fascinating woodland walks and a diverse habitat for interesting flora and fauna. It is a fascinating opportunity.’

Fascinating is the word. The south-facing heathland climbs up to a 240-metre high ridge (that’s one way to keep your neighbours away), with woodland walks through an area that is a diverse habitat for plants and wildlife.

Yes, it is a bit random — and certainly niche. But when else will you get the chance to say that you own an ancient defence monument?

Hembury Fort Cross is currently for sale via Savills at a guide price of £100,000 — see more pictures, or enquire with the agent for further details. Further information can also be found here.

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