Martinhoe Roman Fortlet


This small, square fortlet situated on cliffs overlooking Heddon’s Mouth on the north Devon coast measured about 82 x 79 feet (c.25 x 24m) and covered an area of 720 square yards or 23¾ roods (600m²). The fort is situated in a prominent position on a north-facing cliff top and is believed to have been the location of a beacon intended to be visible at sea. The interior of the fort was taken up by three barrack blocks, two measuring about 50 x 12 feet (c.15 x 3.6m) with officers suites 17¼ feet (c.5.3m) square in one barrack and 20½ feet (c.6.3m) square in the other; the third block was much smaller at only 20 x 10 feet (c.6.3 x 3m) with no officer’s quarters.

There is another, similar fortlet about 8 miles further east along the coast at Old Burrow, and other suspected fortlets further west at Morwenstow and St. Gennys in Cornwall.

The site was excavated by Fox and Ravenhill in the 1960s with the excavations revealing the footings of three ranges of buildings. The artefacts suggested a brief occupancy in the 1st century AD.

References for Martinhoe

  • Britannia V (1974) p.150 table.IV, for a comparison of Roman fortlets in Britain and Germany also Roman Britain and the Roman Navy by David J.F. Mason (Tempus, Stroud, 2003) fig.30 and accompanying text.

Map References for Martinhoe

NGRef: SS6649 OSMap: LR180

Roman Roads near Martinhoe

None identified

Sites near Martinhoe Roman Fortlet