Promoting awareness of the archaeology and history of North Devon
Copyright © 2015-
*HBR/S/A – historic building recording/survey/assessment, DBA – Desk-
1. Barnstaple: BT Exchange, North Walk
Trenches were dug for the foundation of a sub-
2. Barnstaple: Guildhall, Butchers Row
A Historic Building Survey was commissioned by Barnstaple Town Council in order to assist it with proposals to restore and refurbish some of the spaces within the building. The survey outlines the history of the building and compares it with other town halls in the area. It sets out a full description of all the rooms in the building, their features and uses. It emphasises the evolution of the building and the mix of civic and mercantile uses to which it is still put. Finally, it considers options for the reuse and restoration of some of the rooms.
3. Barnstaple: Castle Mound
North Devon Council commissioned a geophysical survey of three areas of the Norman
motte and bailey castle in the centre of Barnstaple. These comprised castle Green,
the summit of the motte and the car park to the south that is considered to have
potentially formed another bailey. The results of the survey revealed a number of
anomalies, many of which appear to relate to the 19th century Castle House on the
north side, including possible garden features and former cattle market buildings
on the south side, beneath the car park. Other anomalies may represent Anglo-
4. 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.
5. 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-
6. Bishops Nympton: Bish Mill
The former water mill building at Bish Mill, east of South Molton, was surveyed prior to it being converted to a holiday cottage. The mill was included in the survey of North Devon water mills carried out by NDAS and published in the 1980s. The mill building was originally three stories and was probably built in 1870, although it occupies the site of a mill that may have been the one referred to in the parish record in Domesday Book. The mill was then owned by the Bishop of Exeter and continued in that ownership well into the 19th century.
The survey is comprehensive and well-
7. 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-
8. 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.
9. Filleigh: Barton Close
This report sets out a historical visual assessment of the impact of proposed residential development on the landscape of the Castle Hill estate. The report contains an extensive history and description of the historic landscape, before setting out its assessment of impact. It concludes that the impact on the historic landscape and in particular on the registered park and garden would be negative/minor as the proposals will add a modern element into the historic parkland but not intrude on any of the key views or significantly alter its character.
10. 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-
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.
11. Heanton Punchardon: Chivenor Cross
A historical assessment of a site on the north side of the A361 just to the west of Heanton Hill Lane was undertaken in view of possible residential development. The site had been in agricultural use, including former orchards and was currently used as a nursery, including a car park. There was very little evidence of archaeological features, other than a possible field boundary; any that might have existed would have been obliterated by the surfacing of the car park and construction of a gas main through the site.
12. Ilfracombe: Holy Trinity
The parish church of Holy Trinity is Grade 1 listed with a 12th century church and
tower, enlarged in the 1320s and 15th century before substantial restoration in the
19th century. Limited historic building recording was carried out during partial
13. 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 post-
14. Landkey: 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-
15. 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-
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-
16. Landkey: Westacott
This is the report of a follow-
17. 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
18. 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-
19. Marwood: Chapel Farm
This is the report of a geophysics survey commissioned by Devon County Council, in
order to understand more about the archaeological potential of a small Iron Age enclosure
on a west-
Other anomalies could represent disturbed ground with archaeological potential, whilst one appeared to show a potential ring ditch outside and to the north of the enclosure. Further investigation would be required to verify this.
20. North Molton: Moorland View
This report describes the monitoring and recording of excavations carried out during
the course of the construction of a dwelling on a garden site between terraced dwellings
on the north Side of Eat Street in the historic core of the village. The excavation
features and finds suggested four phases of activity. The first was mediaeval prospection
pits, probably to test the presence of iron ore, given the prevalence of iron-
Phase two comprised subsequent terracing of the site and construction of a cobbled floor in the 17th/18th centuries. Phase three represented the reinstatement of the rear boundary of the site and construction of a building that included a fireplace and four cobbled floors, in the 18th/19th centuries. The final phase was the demolition of the building and landscaping of the site in the nineteenth century.
21. South Molton: 2 Albion Place
Monitoring and recording were carried out during groundworks for the construction
of a house on the site of a fire-
22. South Molton: Norrington Yard
This lengthy report contains a desk-
The site lies to the east of South Street and south of the Market Hall (Pannier Market). It is in several parts. The larger part to the south and east was an open field for much of the period until the 20th century resulted in its industrial use. The northern and western parts lay within the area of mediaeval burgage plots to the rear of Broad Street and South Street. The walkover survey revealed the 19th and 20th century structures, including walls that represented its more recent uses.
The visual assessment considers that, although the development of the site will have a visual impact on the listed structures on South Street and, in particular, the Market hall, the impact could be positive compared to the present derelict state of the site.
The report points out that previous archaeological investigation of the town has
shed very little light on its history, bearing in mind its antiquity and importance.
One pit excavated on a site to the south of Broad Street was considered to be a mediaeval
refuse pit, containing North Devon coarseware of the period. Investigation of a site
to the south of the town at the Rugby Club site revealed undated enclosures that
were probably prehistoric, but no finds enabling them to be dated. To the north-
23. 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.
Few reports reveal significant new finds. Of the five Barnstaple reports three show
the limitations of developer-
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. South Molton remains tantalisingly close to investigation that reveals more of its mediaeval history.
21st March 2020