The truth about Dumpdon Hill

Legends about the prehistoric hill fort abound, but archaeologist is set to reveal the true facts on Saturday.

STEEPED in history and towering 800 feet above sea level over the Otter Valley stands the ever-impressive Dumpdon Hill.

The Iron Age hill fort, topped with beech trees, is often overshadowed by its better-known neighbour, Hembury Fort, but has maintained an aura of mystery that has captivated Honitonians since time immemorial.

Legends about the impressive earthwork survive today, including a most improbable one about the existence of a tunnel from Marwood House, in High Street, to the hill’s summit.

For centuries, the myth of the tunnel has been passed from generation to generation.

There will be a chance for local residents to discover more about the Iron Age history of the fort on Saturday (January 22).

A special walk at Dumpdon Hill has been organised by the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) team and will be led by archaeologist Hazel Riley.

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The hill fort is owned and maintained by the National Trust.

It is a prehistoric structure, built around 2,500 years ago.

Archaeologists have expanded their knowledge of the site’s Iron Age past over the last 20 years, since the Great Storm of 1990 toppled many of the beech trees on the hill and exposed more of the ground.

The ‘Discover Dumpdon Hill’ event will show how these marks of the past can be seen in the landscape of today, especially in the winter when the lack of vegetation makes it easier to see the surface.

Those attending the walk will learn how hill forts were constructed and about Iron Age life in the surrounding hamlets and farms.

‘Discover Dumpdon Hill’ takes at 10am. To join the walk contact the AONB office on (01823) 680681 or email

The Blackdown Hills AONB was designated in 1991 to protect the landscape for the nation. It is one of 40 AONBs in the UK. It covers 370 sq km of varied landscape on the Devon and Somerset border.

The partnership is made up of national agencies, local authorities, conservation organisations and community groups who work together to ensure that the Blackdown Hills remains a healthy, living landscape for future generations.