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OLD BURROW Countisbury, N Devonshire, England.

A 1st c. fortlet on a hilltop overlooking the Bristol Channel (elev. 327 m). The earthwork, well preserved on moorland, consists of two concentric enclosures, 18-21 m apart: the inner one, 27 m square, is defended by a rampart and two ditches, the outer one, more circular, by a rampart and ditch. The entrance to the outer enclosure was on the landward side, to the inner enclosure on the seaward side, to force attackers to make a half-circuit under fire between the defenses before reaching the heavy timber-framed inner gate.

The only structure in the interior was a large rectangular field-oven built of stakes, wattle-work and clay, for communal cooking. The troops presumably lived in tents. The fortlet was occupied briefly during the reign of Claudius, probably under Ostorius Scapula, governor in A.D. 47-52. It was built as an outpost to watch for movements by sea of the Silures, the hostile tribe in S Wales led by Caractacus, and presumably to work in conjunction with patrol ships of the Classis Britannica stationed at Avonmouth (Abonae). Cf. Martinhoe. Finds are at the Athenaeum, Barnstaple, N Devon, and at the Somerset County Museum, Taunton.


A. Fox & W. Ravenhill, “Old Burrow and Martinhoe,” Antiquity 39 (1965) 253-58; id., Proc. Devon Arch. Soc. 24 (1966) 3.


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