REPORTS COVERING TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL 2015

Table 1 sets out the reports filed with Archaeological Data Services at York relating to 2015.  The reports are then discussed in a little more detail, in alphabetical order of parish, as in Table 1.   A brief synthesis of the findings of 2015 completes the document.           


Table 1 Summary of reports for 2015

Parish

Site

Grid reference

Report Producer

Type of report

Nature of development

Alverdiscott

Higher Kingdon

SS 491 253

Stratascan

Geophysics

Evaluation of Scheduled Historic Monument

Alverdiscott

Higher Kingdon

SS 491 253

S W Archaeology

Test pits

Evaluation of Scheduled Historic Monument

Alwington

Portledge House

SS239 125

Substrata

Geophysics (gradiometry & earth resistance)

Landscaping around Grade II Listed Building

Ashreigny

Densham Farm

SS 637 125

S W Archaeology

Archaeological monitoring and recording

Groundworks for wind turbine

Ashreigny

East Westacott

SS 604 134

Cotswold Archaeology

Archaeological watching brief

Wind turbine

Ashwater

Swingdon Farm

SX 385 983

S W Archaeology

Archaeological monitoring and recording

Ground works for wind turbine

Buckland Brewer

Sunderleigh

SS 396 200

S W Archaeology

Desk-based; visual impact assessment

Wind turbine

Clawton

Blagdon Manor

SX369 970

S W Archaeology

Historic building assessment

General refurbishment on returning building to residential use

Clawton

Whimble Hill, nr Holsworthy

SS347 032

Context One

Archaeological monitoring and recording

Sewage pipeline

Great Torrington

9 High Street

SS 496 161

S W Archaeology

Historic Building recording

Repair work

Great Torrington

Sydney House, South Street

SS 494 189

S W Archaeology

Archaeological evaluation

Potential development

Great Torrington

Town Hall, Market Square

SS 496 191

S W Archaeology

Historic building assessment, monitoring & recording

Renovation and extension

Parish

Site

Grid reference

Report Producer

Type of report

Nature of development

Hartland

Lower Brownsham House

SS 286 260

S W Archaeology

Historic building assessment

Refurbishment

Hartland

South Hole National Trust estate and Embury Beacon

Centred on Embury Beacon SS215 195

Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service

Archaeological assessment

Part of wider survey for management plan purposes

Hartland

Stoke Barton

SS 236 246

S W Archaeology

Desk-based study & evaluation trenching

Construction of single dwelling house

Northam

Daddon Hill

SS 439 286

Substrata

Gradiometry survey

Housing development

Northam

St Mary’ CoE School, Chanters Lane

SS 454 274

S W Archaeology

Test pits

None.  Educational activity

Northam

Pebbleridge Road, Westward Ho!

SS 436 295

S W Archaeology

Archaeological trial trenches

Housing development

Peters Marland

Marland School

SS478 134

S W Archaeology

Archaeological monitoring

New school building

Tetccott

Nethercott Farm

SX 973 964

S W Archaeology

Archaeological monitoring & recording

Wind turbines

Virginstowe

Virginstowe Railway Bridge

SX 372 927

A C Archaeology

Historic building recording

In-fill of bridge arch

Winkleigh

Homeleigh, Queen St

SS633 080

A C Archaeology

Watching brief

Construction of new garage

Woolfardiswort hy

Manor House & Farmers Arms

SS332 210

S W Archaeology

Desk based; Historic building recording

Potential refurbishment

Thus some 21 sites were examined in 14 parishes, with one site generating two reports.  Three sites were examined in each of Great Torrington, Hartland, and Northam parishes and 2 sites were examined in both Ashreigny and Clawton parishes.  A total of 7 commercial organisations were involved, with South West Archaeology producing 15 reports, AC Archaeology and Substrata each producing 2 reports.  The most common forms of development generating reports in 2015 were small scale extensions and refurbishments of historic buildings.  There were slightly more developments involving wind-turbines in 2015 than the previous year, although the Swingdon Farm, Ashwater turbine report was the result of an amended application, with the initial report being produced in 2013.  The Marland School, Peters Marland had also seen an earlier report in 2013.






Reports


1. Alverdiscott: Higher Kingdon Farm


Two reports were produced in sequence for this Scheduled Historic Monument, which lies 2.8km W of Alverdiscott church.  The first was a geophysical survey using gradiometry and earth resistance.  The site was known from crop marks and aerial photography to have a triple-ditched enclosure and a Roman marching camp and the work was part of an evaluation of the whole site by Devon County Council as it was speculated that there could be more archaeology present.  Linear anomalies in the SW of the site were related to the triple-ditched Iron Age enclosure and other anomalies, considered to be back-filled pits, were also associated with this.  The Roman marching camp appeared as linear anomalies. Other linear anomalies were considered to be ditches and banks associated with settlement within the site and linear anomalies in the N and E of the site were presumed to be former field boundaries.  However, the Roman marching camp was not apparent in the earth resistance data and only a portion of the Iron Age enclosure was detected by this methodology.


The second report was a follow-up and involved test pits to establish the state of preservation of features detected in the geophysical survey but not to excavate them.  Nine test pits were hand-dug, with 6 uncovering archaeology.  The pits without archaeology were considered to be near-misses, and within the margins of error between survey and setting out relatively small pits.  Ditches are probable ditch fills were found for both the Roman marching camp and the Iron Age enclosure, but nothing was found to allow for dating.   Four pits yielded medieval and post-medieval pottery within the plough soil, with North Devon gravel-tempered ware of medieval and post-medieval age being positively identified.   It was concluded that ploughing had destroyed surface and shallow features but that the principal archaeology survived at greater depth.

 

2.  Alwington: Portledge House


The report presents the results of geophysical survey (gradiometry and earth resistance) in the grounds of Portledge House, a Grade II Listed Building, as part of landscaping the garden, which was first known to have been laid out in the eighteenth century.  Portledge lies close to the coast and about 1.8 km NW of Alwington church.  The geophysics found several anomalies consistent with features of a garden, including possible flower beds, paths and garden buildings.  

  

3. Ashreigny: Densham Farm


The report concerned monitoring during construction of a wind turbine at Densham Farm, about 1km SE of Ashreigny village.  Map evidence suggested that the site formed the fields of a hamlet at Densham, now shrunken to a single farm.  One probable former field boundary was identified but nothing else of archaeological importance was found.


4. Ashreigny: East Westacott

  

The report concerned a watching brief during cinstruction of groundworks for a single wind turbine at East Westacott, about 3 km west of Ashreigny village.  The general area was known to contain archaeological features and it was considered possible that small features, unobserved by aerial photography or field walking might lie within the site.  Only a single feature was exposed during the groundworks, an undated ditch that probably related to previous field boundaries.

5. Ashwater: Swingdon Farm


This report concerned monitoring at a wind turbine site at Swingdon Farm, some 3.5km NW of Ashwater village and about 2km ESE of Clawton village.  The site had been evaluated for the initial application in 2013 and nothing of archaeological interest was found.  This report directly deals with the trenches needed for the cable to link the turbine to the grid.  Only in one field was anything found and the few sherds of pottery here were of eighteenth or nineteenth century date.



6.  Buckland Brewer: Sunderleigh


The report concerned a desk-based assessment and visual impact assessment of a single wind turbine at Sunderleigh about 1km WSW of Buckland Brewer village and about 1.2km SSE of Parkham village.  The site formed part of Babeleigh Moor, which was enclosed and improved during the nineteenth century.  Only limited numbers of archaeological and historical sites are within a 5km radius and the hill and valley nature of the topography and the hedgerows of the landscape limit the visual impact, although the turbine can now be seen to dominate the skyline on a short stretch of the Yeo Vale- Powlers Piece road.  


7.  Clawton: Blagdon Manor


The report was occasioned by the return of what had been a hotel to domestic residential use and comprised a brief Historic Building record for a Grade II Listed Building.  The house, formerly a farm, lies some 2.8km SE of Clawton village.  This report found that some aspects of structure found in the initial record had been lost in its conversion to a hotel, but that others were now apparent and the history of the building was somewhat easier to read.  The core of the house represented piecemeal construction and alteration over a period from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries and with a more significant nineteenth century extension.  The building is of rubble stone and cob on stone footings and original slate floors survive throughout much of the ground floor.  Some of the roof timbers appear to be original.  The conversion was felt to be sympathetic to the building.     


8.  Clawton: Whimble Hill, Holsworthy


The reports concerned monitoring and recording during the construction of a new sewage pipeline at Whimble Hill on the southern outskirts of Holsworthy and just within Clawton parish.  Cartographic analysis suggested that the area contained medieval enclosures of strip fields and Bronze Age tools had also been found previously in the vicinity.  No finds were made and nothing of archaeological interest was recorded on the c 1.6km course of the pipeline.


9.  Great Torrington: 9 High Street


The report examined the eastern gable end of this house in the heart of Great Torrington.  The property is not listed but is a fairly original seventeenth century merchant’s house.  Most of the original timber frame survives and was exposed during the repair work.  In common with many properties in North Devon, it was ‘modernised’ in the nineteenth century with the framing cut so a narrow sash window could be inserted.  This has rather compromised the structural integrity of the house and the report concludes, both on building and on historic and aesthetic grounds, that the nineteenth century window should be replaced and the tie beam, which was severed to insert the window, could then be renewed.

10. Great Torrington: Sydney House, South Street


The report was an evaluation of the site ahead of possible development.  It lies just SW of the Town Hall and overlooks the Torridge valley.  A total of 11 trenches were mechanically excavated.  Six trenches in the west of the site yielded nothing.  The remaining trenches, in the centre of the site uncovered a ditch and from this were recovered a variety of pottery sherds, much with glaze, some animal bone, oyster and mussel shells.  A seventeenth century pottery kiln is known to be located immediate to the W of the site and it is possible that some of the pottery derived from this.  However, most of the pottery suggests medieval and post-medieval domestic activity on the site.



11.  Great Torrington: Town Hall


The report concerned an Historic Building Record and archaeological monitoring and recording occasioned by renovation and extension work at the Town Hall, in the heart of Great Torrington.  The present building dates from 1861 and is a Grade II Listed Building and prominent within the Conservation Area.  The Town Hall and the buildings to each side of it are presumed to be in-filling of an original market square.  Documentary sources reveal that the Town Hall of 1763 removed to allow the present building to be erected was itself a replacement of a still earlier Town Hall.  So it was concluded that there was potential for traces of these earlier buildings to be revealed during ground-works for the new extension.  Cobbled surfaces were found across much of the exposed site, some probably relating to earlier buildings and some possibly being the road surface of the High Street incorporated when the building was extended into the street.  Foundation trenches were exposed but precise dating proved to be impossible.  A moderate amount of pottery was recovered, predominantly North Devon coarse ware but with a little sgraffito.  


12.  Hartland: Lower Brownsham House


The report was occasioned by renovations and repair work to this Grade II Listed Building owned by the National Trust. The building had been the subject of an earlier extensive survey and report in 1990 and this report adds a little to the substance.  Brownsham is among the more easterly of the farmsteads in Hartland parish, lying about 700 metres from the coast and about 3.5km E of Hartland village.  The present farm house has a long history, with the oldest parts dating to the early sixteenth century.  It was extended in the seventeenth century and considerably altered in the eighteenth century.  Most of the farm-buildings date from this period or later. In a former dairy two large stone slating troughs survive.  


13.  Hartland: South Hole and Embury Beacon


The report was produced as part of the process of developing a management plan for the National Trust’s South Hole property, which includes, roughly at its centre, the Scheduled Monument of Embury Beacon.  The whole property is of some 126 acres and contains some of the most impressive coastal scenery in NW Devon.  Most of the report is synthesis of already published sources to present a landscape history of this area.  As such, Embury Beacon has been the focus of work in 1972 and more recently a full survey (Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings, volume 72, 2014).  The report concludes that there is much potential to enhance visitor understanding of the complex landscape elements and identifies more general principles to be incorporated in land management that would improve and conserve both the fragile ecology and the complex and diverse historic landscape.  Central for much of this would be more active scrub control and some coppicing of woodland and sustained grazing of the coastal strip.  


14.  Hartland Stoke Barton


The report was a desk-based study and evaluation trenching exercise ahead of the construction of a single dwelling in a field adjacent to the farm house.  Stoke Barton lies just to the S of St Nectan’s church Stoke, the mother church of the large parish of Hartland and about 2km W of Hartland village.  The field had seen various changes in its land-use, from pasture to orchard and back again.  Some of the site had been compromised by sceptic tanks works.  Traces were found of a hollow-way and of two hedge banks that had been part of a pre-1840 configuration.  Whilst the wider site yielded a range of pottery, with some medieval and much post medieval, especially North Devon coarse ware, none was found on the site of the proposed dwelling house.


15.  Northam: Daddon Hill


The report is a gradiometry survey of the site for a large development, about 1km SSW of Northam village.  A desk-based assessment had been completed in 2014 and suggested further evaluation.  Over 130 clusters of magnetic anomalies were found, but about a quarter could be related directly to field boundaries shown on the Tithe Map and many other linear features were either drains or possible pre-Tithe Map field boundaries.  One cluster of anomalies was probably a set of quarries and pits but two others as curvilinear features could possibly have been ring ditches of a barrow or hut and were considered to merit trial trenching to establish more precise information.    


16. Northam: St Mary’s CoE School, Chanters Lane

The report notes the outcome of two small test pits in the grounds of St Mary’s CoE Primary School in Chanters Road, Northam, but within the continuously built-up area of Bideford.  The aim was to provide an educational, hands-on, experience for the older school children.  Most of the pottery recovered was North Devon ware, with about twice as much gravel-tempered as gravel-free.  A small quantity of clay-pipe stems was found and one piece of glass from an onion bottle rim of early eighteenth century date was found.  All the material found has been retained by the school.     


17.  Northam: Pebbleridge Road, Westward Ho!


The report analysed ten mechanically dug trenches on a site for development for housing.  It lies about 250 metres inland of the Pebble Ridge and c 400 metres from the Mesolithic site on Westward Ho! beach.  The trenches intercepted several land drains and from within one of these a few sherds of fifteenth and sixteenth century North Devon gravel-free ware were recovered.  The sub-soil yielded a few fragments of sixteenth and seventeenth century North Devon gravel-tempered ware.  The site itself lay next to Venton farm house, and so pottery fragments of the late medieval and early modern period might have been expected.

 

18.  Peters Marland: Marland school


The report details the results from 3 trenches opened by mechanical excavator on a site to be developed for school buildings.  A trial trench in 2012, and the subject of an earlier report, suggested that the site could have been the focus of medieval manorial activity close to the church, which adjoins it.  Only one of the trenches found any pottery, a single sherd of medieval North Devon coarse ware.  Another trench confirmed the existence of a field boundary shown on the Tithe Map.  It was concluded that the medieval manor demesne farm lay nearby but did not occupy any of the site.


19.  Tetcott: Nethercott Farm


The report covers archaeological monitoring on a site where three wind turbines and associated infrastructure were to be built.  It lies om high ground in the E of the parish, some 1.5km E of Higher Lana, the principal settlement focus of the parish, and  2.2km E of Tetcott church and Tetcott Manor.  Six areas were mechanically excavated under supervision.  Three areas produced no finds, but flint flakes and cores and a piece of Greensand chert, showing possible signs of use.  All but one flake came from the sub-soil and probably had been disturbed by ploughing at some time.  Nonetheless, it was concluded that there could have been prehistoric settlement on or very close to the site.

 

20. Virginstowe: Railway Bridge


The report is of an historic building recording of a former railway over-bridge on the minor road from Panson to Virginstowe, about 500 metres W of Virginstowe church.  The bridge had been constructed for the North Cornwall Line of the London and South Western Railway, which opened in 1886.  It was a typical piece of railway architecture for the line and constructed of local stone.  The line closed in 1967 and the current planning application was for the arch was to be filled in.


21. Winkleigh: Homeleigh, Queen Street


The report was an archaeological watching brief during the demolition of an old and construction of a new garage at a site just S of the church in the heart of the village.  Homeleigh itself is a seventeenth century Grade II Listed Building.  Because of its location, the site was considered to have potential to yield some interesting archaeology.  A total of 16 sherds of pottery were recovered, 7 being North Devon coarse ware of c 1200-1350 and 9 were post-medieval, principally North Devon coarse ware with a single sherd of seventeenth century sgraffito ware.  The finds were typical of what might have been expected from a site forming part of the village core.


22. Woolfardisworthy: Manor House & Farmers’ Arms


The report was a desk-based assessment and historic building record for two properties, both Grade II Listed Buildings, at the heart of Woolfardisworthy village which were undergoing restoration and refurbishment.    The Manor House, next to the church, proved to be a complex structure with an eighteenth century front range added to a late fifteenth or early sixteenth century house.  The whole was then modified slightly in the later eighteenth century and a few nineteenth century alterations were made, especially a few windows.  The Farmers Arms comprised a cottage and two barns, all cob built, of mainly eighteenth century origin, modified somewhat to facilitate conversion into a public house early in the twentieth century.    The two buildings contribute significantly to the townscape of this part of the village, and together with the parish church, they form a centrepiece to this part of the village.  The Farmer’s Arms and other associated buildings may possibly represent an undated in-filling of a former square, the original  ‘worthy’ of Woofardisoworthy.  


Discussion


Work published this year adds a little to our archaeological knowledge, although in several instances, the reports tantalise rather than reveal a great deal.  Nowhere is this more apparent than at Higher Kingdon Farm, Alverdiscott, where both an Iron Age enclosure and Roman army marching camp are to be found.  A principal aim of the work here was to ascertain the survival of archaeology on these Scheduled Monuments and so investigative excavation was not attempted, in line with Historic England’s policy for such sites not in any immediate danger.  Work at Nethercott Farm, Tetcott is of interest in that here further evidence of site continuity between pre and post Saxon settlement was found.      


Promoting awareness of the archaeology and history of North Devon

Copyright © 2015-2018 North Devon Archaeological Society

Back