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NORTHERN DEVON IN THE GREY ARCHAEOLOGICAL LITERATURE


REPORTS COVERING NORTH DEVON DISTRICT 2017 Table 1 sets out the reports filed with ADS relating to 2017  The reports are then discussed in a little more detail, in alphabetical order of parish.   A brief synthesis of the findings of 2017 completes the document.


Table 1: Summary of reports for 2017




Parish

Site

Grid

Ref

Report

Producer

Type of

Report

Nature of

Development

Barnstaple

BT Exchange,

North Walk

5555

3329

AC Arch

Monitoring &

recording

Groundworks

for sub

station and

cable trench

Barnstaple

Church

Grove,

Newport

5663

3219

SWARCH

Monitoring &

recording

Residential

development

Barnstaple

Glove

factory,

Pilton

5559

3417

Context One

Arch

Services

Monitoring &

recording

Conversion to

residential

units

Brendon &

Countisbury

Coombe

Farm Barns

7657

4888

SWARCH

HBR

Conversion to

residential

units

Burrington

Homelands

6390

1667

SWARCH

Evaluation

trench &

monitoring

Residential

development

Fremington

Land west of

Oakland Park

5380

3280

AC Arch

Trench

evaluation

Residential

development

Knowstone

Enfield

House

8273

2310

SWARCH

Monitoring &

recording

Construction

of dwelling

Landkey

Higher

Hunnacott

6029

3041

SWARCH

HBR,

monitoring &

recording

Residential

development

Landkey

Land east of

Westacott

5917

3215

WYAS Arch

Services

Geophysical

survey

Residential

development

Lynton &

Lynmouth

Furzehill

Common

7360

4455

Cornwall

Archaeology

Unit

Walkover

survey

Mire

restoration

works

Lynton &

Lynmouth

Land at Lee

Abbey

7006

4944

Substrata

Magnetometer

and resistance

survey

England Coast

Path route

South Molton

The Old

Savoy

Cinema, New

Road

7163

2587

AC Arch

HBS

Demolition

for res devt

 HBR/S/A – historic building recording/survey/assessment


A total of 12 sites were examined in 8 parishes. 5 commercial firms and one County

Archaeological Unit produced the reports; 5 of these reports were prepared by

SWARCH, 3 by AC Archaeology, and 1 each by Context One Archaeology Services,

West Yorkshire Archaeology Services and Substrata. 9 of the reports were prompted

by residential development and 1 by the provision of services such as drainage and

Cabling.


1. Barnstaple: BT Exchange, North Walk

Trenches were dug for the foundation of a sub-station and associated cable route

being built on a site between the telephone exchange and Castle Mound. Even the

deepest trench, 1.2m below surface level, did not penetrate beneath the made-up

ground level when the exchange was developed. Disappointingly, given the location, no

features were found and the finds were predominantly 19th/20th century.


2. Barnstaple: Church Grove, Newport

Monitoring of this site during groundworks for development was carried out because it

is located in the historic core of Newport, close to the site of a chapel that was first

documented in the 14th century. However, the only features and finds related to the

19th/20th centuries, demonstrating that previous development had removed any earlier

features, to the depth of the excavation.


3. Barnstaple: Former Glove Factory, Ladywell, Pilton

The former glove factory site lies in the historic core of Pilton close to the parish

church and site of a former Benedictine monastery. The glove factory buildings were to

be converted to apartments and the investigation was a requirement of the planning

permission.

Of the seven trenches that were dug, five were described in the report as

“archaeologically sterile”. In trench two a possible tanning pit and associated culvert

were observed and in trench three an earlier cobbled surface and limestone flag

associated with an earlier phase of the industrial use of the site. Despite its location,

no archaeological features or deposits predating the post-mediaeval period were

discovered, nor any dateable finds. All the excavated features related to the postmediaeval industrial uses.


4. Brendon & Countisbury: Coombe Farm Barns

This is a report of a historic building record of two barns at Coombe Farm, prior to

their conversion to residential use. The barns were constructed in the mid-nineteenth

century as part of the remodelling of the farm. Barn 1 includes in its loft 17th century

beams which match those in the hall of the farmhouse. Barn 2 is single storey and has

been extensively altered in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Together the barns

are considered to add historic value to the farm complex.


5. Burrington: Homelands

Three evaluation trenches were excavated in advance of residential development at

this site, which is within the Conservation Area at Burrington. Three features were

identified in one of the trenches; all were modern. There were no finds.


6. Fremington: land west of Oakland Park South

Four trenches were excavated in a large field sloping down towards the Taw Estuary at

Sticklepath. The trenches were sited in locations were previous geophysics survey

suggested the presence of likely features. Archaeological features were discovered in

three of the trenches. They mainly related to former ditches that probably delineated

field boundaries of the strip fields that were present in the area. One or two features

contained fills and also yielded interesting finds.

Two worked flint places, probably Bronze Age were found in one of the trenches. Six

sherds of Late Bronze Age pottery were found in one trench, comprising a base angle

sherd and five fragments from it. It was interpreted by Henrietta Quinnell as

suggestive of Late Bronze Age Plain Ware and would be the first of this type identified

in North Devon.

Four sherds of mediaeval pottery were identified from two trenches. Two of these

were body sherds of North Devon Coarse ware, dated to c AD 1200-1450. One other

was a body sherd in a finer fabric. The fourth sherd was from a glazed North Devon

jug dating from the 14th or 15th centuries. There were twelve sherds of post-mediaeval

pottery and one piece of slag or clinker.

In summary, the featured relate to a pattern of fields established on the edge of the

mediaeval settlement. The finds indicate prehistoric occupation of the site, probably in

the Bronze Age and may indicate the attractiveness of the site, close to and

overlooking the Taw estuary, to a prehistoric community.


7. Knowstone: land adjacent to Enfield House

An area was excavated across the footprint of a proposed dwelling and through the

hedgebank to provide a site access. No features were found. Finds were mainly postmediaeval or modern. A single sherd of a mediaeval North Devon coarseware jar with a

thumb strip decoration was found from the bank. An extremely worn post-mediaeval

grindstone was also found in the hedgebank.


8. Higher Hunnacott

This report describes limited historic building recording of standing structures and

recording of excavated trenches prior to residential development. The majority of the

archaeological features were post-mediaeval, primarily 19th century but much altered in

the 20th. Finds largely comprised North Devon coarseware of post-mediaeval date, with

other miscellaneous finds.


9. Landkey: land east of Westacott

This is a report of a magnetometer survey carried out on 55ha of land east of

Westacott, Barnstaple. The site lies between Acland Barton to the north, Acland Road

to the east and the A361 (North Devon Link Road) to the south. The site is currently a

south-sloping pasture, but was, until the late 1970s the site of Acland Wood.

The site is identified for residential development in the Local Plan.

The findings of the survey relate largely to geological and agricultural features,

including former field boundaries and field drains. In the north-west sector of the site,

adjoining Westacott, there are features of particular archaeological interest,

representative of a possible enclosure. Archaeological potential is deemed to be low to

moderate across the rest of the survey area.


10. Lynton & Lynmouth: Furzehill Common

A walkover survey of 34 ha of open moorland and 2.5ha of enclosed land was carried

out by Cornwall Archaeology Unit on behalf of the Exmoor Mires Partnership. The

report records that the survey was beset by two problems: the projection on the GPS

hand held unit was not functioning properly making it difficult to locate features

accurately, and the weather conditions were adverse, consisting of strong winds,

driving rain and thick mist, making for very poor conditions for photography!

Nevertheless, the survey managed to identify a number of features. These ranged

from post-mediaeval mounds, probably comprising collapsed peat or turf stacks, and

quarries to pre-historic stone settings, boundaries and cairns, including a possible ring

cairn. A mediaeval/post-mediaeval holloway was also identified.

11. Lynton & Lynmouth: land at Lee Abbey

This report presents the results of an archaeological magnetometer and resistance

survey on land east of Lee Abbey, commissioned by Exmoor National Park. The

identified anomalies coincide with, and most likely represent, an extant prehistoric

bank, elements of a relict Bronze Age field system, a section of post-mediaeval estate

boundary wall, an extant ploughed-over circular mound and an extant sub-circular

platform. The last two are considered to be either prehistoric or have a World War II

origin. Two other sub-circular features could represent a cairn and a barrow. Other

features had characteristics associated with field or enclosure boundaries, which, in

the context of Lee Abbey, are considered to be mediaeval or earlier.


12. South Molton: The Old Savoy Cinema, New Road

This a report of a historic building survey of the Art Deco New Savoy Cinema building

before it was demolished. The survey was carried out in 2008 but not published until

2017. The report describes both the exterior and interior of the building. The cinema

was built in 1935. Although its use as a cinema ceased in 1970, it had subsequently been

used for retail and storage purposes and some internal alterations had taken place.

Nevertheless, many art deco features were retained and the projection room upstairs

was still in its original condition, complete with original projection and other equipment,

at the time of the survey.


Conclusions

Fewer reports have been published this year than for several years. Of those that

have, few reveal significant new finds. The three Barnstaple reports show the

limitations of developer-led archaeology, where the depth of excavation is determined

by the needs of the development, rather than the archaeological potential of the site.

All three were in potentially significant historic core locations, but none penetrated

deep enough to go beyond 19th or 20th century construction layers.

The two reports commissioned by Exmoor National Park reveal additional information

about their respective historic landscapes. The two reports about residential

development sites on the edge of Barnstaple also reveal something of the

archaeological potential of the area, particularly the finds on the site at Sticklepath.

8th January 2019