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HER Number:MDV110229
Name:Open cast ironstone mines, from Black Down and North Hill, eastwards to Hill View Farm

Summary

Extensive areas of earthwork and cropmark pits with associated earthwork mounds of Roman to early post-Roman open cast ironstone mines are visible on aerial photographs of 1942 onwards and on digital images derived from lidar data captured in 2016. The ironstone mines extend from Black Down and North Hill, eastwards to Hill View Farm, Broadhembury, Dunkeswell, Sheldon, Kentisbeare and Awliscombe parishes.

Location

Grid Reference:ST 125 063
Map Sheet:ST10NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishAwliscombe
Civil ParishBroadhembury
Civil ParishDunkeswell
Civil ParishKentisbeare
Civil ParishSheldon
DistrictEast Devon
DistrictMid Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishDUNKESWELL
Ecclesiastical ParishAWLISCOMBE
Ecclesiastical ParishKENTISBEARE
Ecclesiastical ParishSHELDON
Ecclesiastical ParishBROADHEMBURY

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Prehistoric Iron-working extractive pits and barrow and mining features in Downland Plantation
  • SHINE: Earthwork and cropmark pits of Roman - Early Roman open cast ironstone mine
  • SHINE: Earthworks and cropmarks of pits, part of extensive Roman to early post-Roman open cast ironstone mines south of Hookedrise Farm
  • SHINE: Earthworks and cropmarks of pits, part of extensive Roman and post-Roman open cast ironstone mines, 18th-19th century Laurel Walk and sites of structures associated with former WWII Dunkeswell airfield at Highwood
  • SHINE: Prehistoric barrow and earthworks and cropmarks of Roman/Post-Roman ironstone extraction pits, south of Turbary Cross
  • SHINE: Earthworks associated with ironstone extraction pits and two rectangular enclosures, south of Dunkeswell Airfield

Other References/Statuses

  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1195604
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1342917
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • IRONSTONE MINE (Roman to VII - 43 AD to 700 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1942, RAF/16B/BR425/3, RAF/16B/BR425/3 V 33-34 02-FEB-1942 (Aerial Photograph). SDV359929.

A series of cropmark pits are visible.


Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1974, RAF/CPE/UK/1974 FP 4292-4293 11-APR-1947 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356127.

Extensive areas of roughly circular earthwork pits and irregular earthwork mounds and pits are visible. Map object partly based on this source.


Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1974, RAF/CPE/UK/1974 RS 4293-94; 4296-97; 4446-47 11-APR-1947 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356127.

Extensive areas of earthwork and cropmark pits are visible. Map object partly based on this source. The features transcribed from this source are associated with the Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments NMP project.


Royal Air Force, 1950, RAF/541/453, RAF/541/453 RP 3109-3110 & 3112-3113 04-MAR-1950 (Aerial Photograph). SDV357845.

Extensive areas of irregular earthwork mounds and pits, and irregular pale cropmarks are visible. Map object partly based on this source.


Royal Air Force, 1950, RAF/541/534, RAF/541/534 RS 4044-45; 4058-61 30-MAY-1950 (Aerial Photograph). SDV357615.

Extensive areas of earthwork and cropmark pits are visible. Map object partly based on this source. The features transcribed from this source are associated with the Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments NMP project.


Ordnance Survey, 1982, OS/82219 V, OS/82219 V 1691-92 03-SEP-1982 (Aerial Photograph). SDV357675.

Extensive areas of earthwork and cropmark pits are visible. Map object partly based on this source. The features transcribed from this source are associated with the Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments NMP project.


Environment Agency, 1998-2012, LiDAR DSM data JPEG image (1m resolution), LIDAR ST0906 Environment Agency JPEG DSM 05-MAR-2010 (Cartographic). SDV357034.

Irregular earthwork mounds and pits are visible at North Hill/Black Down. Map object partly based on this source.


Environment Agency, 2005-2012, LiDAR DTM data JPEG image (1m resolution), LIDAR ST0906 Environment Agency JPEG DTM 05-MAR-2010 (Cartographic). SDV357033.

Irregular ground surface visible at North Hill/Black Down. Map object partly based on this source.


Cox, M., 2009, How Important were the Blackdown Hills as a Centre for the Iron Industry before the Industrial Revolution, 20 (Undergraduate Dissertation). SDV359500.

The state of preservation of the surviving extraction pits on North Hill varies greatly. The pits range from 1.5 to 10 metres in diameter and 0.1 to 2.5 metres visible depth. Excavation by Exeter Archaeology revealed proof of the function of the pits by the lack of iron nodules and the extent to which they were originally dug. The ore lay directly below the clay with flints and chert, and above the Upper Greensand. The pits were dug to this level and all the viable iron ore removed.


Next Perspectives, 2010, Aerial Photography for Great Britain, Next Perspectives PGA Imagery ST0906-ST0907 22-MAY-2010 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356259.

Irregular earthwork mounds and pits are visible at North Hill/Black Down, and indistinct earthwork pits are visible at Black Down north of Downlands (ST0993507883).


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2014-2015, East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV356883.

Extensive areas of pits on the plateau of Black Down, North Hill and Downland Plantations are visible as earthworks on aerial photographs taken between 1947 and 2010, with an area of irregular cropmarks on North Hill and the southern part of Black Down. They are interpreted as open cast mines for the extraction of iron ore, of Roman or immediately post-Roman date, recorded in numerous investigations during the 1990s (e.g. MDV57200).
The pits are roughly circular, ranging in visible extent from circa 1 to 6 metres in diameter, with most at circa 1.5 to 2.5 metres. Silting up and vegetation cover are likely to have reduced the visible extents of the pits, and their size is probably under-represented in the transcriptions. They are densely packed, and although the best-defined pits have been transcribed individually, in many cases the extent of individual pits is not clear, the visible ground surface being very irregular. For this reason the extent of the area covered by earthworks is also depicted in the transcriptions. Earthworks are visible on images derived from lidar data captured in 2010, although coverage is partial, and its use is limited since processing seems to have reduced the detail visible on the DTM. This source does however demonstrate the extent of surviving earthworks well. The pits are visible, although poorly- defined, on the DSM covering parts of North Hill where tree or scrub cover has not yet established.
The survival of the earthworks appears to have varied considerably. In 1947 earthwork pits were visible in four land parcels north of Downlands, and in two land parcels to the south. Forestry operations may have impacted on several of these areas, especially the northern part of Black Down, which had mature trees cover by 1999/2000. Trees in three of these land parcels had been felled between 2006/7 and 2010, and one centred at ST0999907630 restocked with young trees by 2010; narrow shallow linear ridges in another at ST0987107774 by 2010 suggest the land here had been levelled. Machinery tracks in the third land parcel at ST0993507883 indicate impact from felling, although the ground surface here was more uneven, so the earthworks may not have been completely destroyed. The trees on the area of earthworks at Downlands Plantations at ST0988707080 seems to have been felled by 1999/2000 and restocked by 2006-7, possibly including ground preparation that created ridges and may have levelled the pits here. The land parcel to the south at North Hill/Black Down at ST0989106885 appears to be the only location within the project area where the earthworks of the pits have survived relatively intact.
Earlier phases of levelling to improve land productivity can be inferred from the large area of pale irregular cropmarks at North Hill/Black Down centred on ST1003706625 and covering approximately 10 hectares. These probably formed over the remains of infilled pits, an interpretation supported by the results of excavations in the 1990s when slight earthwork depressions were visible; lidar-derived images show the ground surface to be slightly irregular but distinct pits in this land parcel cannot be identified using the available images.
Further extensive groups of similar earthwork pits indicate that mining activity extended some distance to the east, in fields centred on ST1034406993; although now forested, lidar images indicate good survival of earthworks below the canopy here. The original area was probably greater still, no doubt extending into land parcels where the ground has since been levelled but where no cropmarks were visible on the available aerial photographs. Groups of earthworks that did not intersect with the project area were not transcribed, as aerial photographic coverage was incomplete, although they have been incorporated into the monument polygon.
There are numerous records resulting from archaeological investigations of these mines, but as they could not be attributed to individual earthworks visible on the aerial photographs these have not been altered as part of the NMP survey, with the exception of linking them to this record (MDV57199, MDV57200, MDV49853, MDV48954, MDV48423, MDV47135, MDV48419, MDV48422, MDV48956, MDV49857, MDV57521, MDV48420 and probably MDV47130, MDV47128 and MDV47129)


Bluesky International, 2016, LiDAR DTM data (0.5m resolution) Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONBs: 3 transects, LIDAR ST1006; ST1007; ST1106; ST1205; ST1206; Bluesky International DTM 05-MAY-2016 & 27-JUN-2016 (Cartographic). SDV359714.

Extensive areas of earthwork pits and mounds are visible. Map object partly based on this source. The features transcribed from this source are associated with the Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments NMP project.


Bluesky International, 2016, LiDAR DTM data (0.5m resolution) Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONBs: 3 transects, LIDAR ST1207; ST1305; ST1306; ST1405; ST1406 Bluesky International DTM 05-MAY-2016 & 27-JUN-2016 (Cartographic). SDV359714.

Extensive areas of earthwork pits and mounds are visible. Map object partly based on this source. The features transcribed from this source are associated with the Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments NMP project.


Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2016-2018, The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV359463.

Extensive areas of earthwork and cropmark pits with associated earthwork mounds of Roman to early post-Roman open cast ironstone mines are visible on aerial photographs of 1942 onwards and on digital images derived from lidar data captured in 2016, extending from Black Down and North Hill, eastwards to Hill View Farm, within Broadhembury, Dunkeswell, Sheldon, Kentisbeare and Awliscombe parishes. The ironstone mines transcribed and recorded here during this survey are a continuation of those features recorded by S. Knight during the East and Mid Devon NMP Project in March 2015 and, as such, have been accordingly appended to this parent monument record. The monument polygon for this record has been amended and any ‘extent of areas’ created by S. Knight which extend into this project area have been copied, pasted and amended, where appropriate. This has necessarily created a slight, but unavoidable, discrepancy in overlapping transcriptions. As mentioned by S. Knight elsewhere in this record, there are numerous records resulting from archaeological investigations of these mines, but as they could not be attributed to individual earthworks or cropmarks visible on the aerial photographs or digital images these have not been altered as part of the NMP survey, with the exception of linking them to this record. Within the Blackdown Hills NMP Project area, these include, MDV49854, MDV11500, MDV11501, MDV50038, MDV50037, MDV49855, MDV112230, MDV50040, MDV50043, MDV50045 & MDV50044. Where clearly defined, the earthworks and cropmarks have been individually transcribed, although where features were more diffuse, and owing to time constraints, they have been simply defined by an extent of area, with a single area often being transcribed from multiple sources. Given the poor clarity of a number of the earthworks and cropmarks, it is likely that these features are far more extensive than has been recorded during this survey.

The ironstone mines are mostly visible as dense concentrations of circular to sub-oval shaped pits, typically ranging in size from between 4m to 14m in length and extending across a narrow strip of land between 700m to 1.3km in width, to a length of approximately 5.4km from east to west. The earthworks and cropmarks at the eastern extent at Hill View Farm are notably larger and more irregular in shape, most likely where they intercut, with a number of the pits being clearly associated with curvilinear earthwork mounds derived from up-cast material. Particularly dense concentrations of pits, and also notably smaller, are also visible within the plantations around Black Down to the west.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1974. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1974 FP 4292-4293 11-APR-1947.
  • Aerial Photograph: Next Perspectives. 2010. Aerial Photography for Great Britain. Aerial Photography for Great Britain Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives PGA Imagery ST0906-ST0907 22-MAY-2010.
  • Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2014-2015. East and Mid Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.
  • Cartographic: Environment Agency. 2005-2012. LiDAR DTM data JPEG image (1m resolution). Environment Agency LiDAR data. Digital. LIDAR ST0906 Environment Agency JPEG DTM 05-MAR-2010.
  • Cartographic: Environment Agency. 1998-2012. LiDAR DSM data JPEG image (1m resolution). Environment Agency LiDAR data. Digital. LIDAR ST0906 Environment Agency JPEG DSM 05-MAR-2010.
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1950. RAF/541/534. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/541/534 RS 4044-45; 4058-61 30-MAY-1950.
  • Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1982. OS/82219 V. Ordnance Survey. Photograph (Paper). OS/82219 V 1691-92 03-SEP-1982.
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1950. RAF/541/453. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/541/453 RP 3109-3110 & 3112-3113 04-MAR-1950.
  • Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2016-2018. The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. Historic England Research Report. Digital.
  • Undergraduate Dissertation: Cox, M.. 2009. How Important were the Blackdown Hills as a Centre for the Iron Industry before the Industrial Revolution. University of Exeter Dissertation. Digital. 20.
  • Cartographic: Bluesky International. 2016. LiDAR DTM data (0.5m resolution) Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONBs: 3 transects. Not applicable. Digital. LIDAR ST1006; ST1007; ST1106; ST1205; ST1206; Bluesky International DTM 05-MAY-2016 & 27-JUN-2016.
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1942. RAF/16B/BR425/3. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/16B/BR425/3 V 33-34 02-FEB-1942.

Associated Monuments

MDV48956Parent of: Boundary stone at Eylesbarrow (Monument)
MDV50043Parent of: Crop marks in Dunkeswell (Monument)
MDV50044Parent of: Crop marks in Dunkeswell (Monument)
MDV47128Parent of: GRAVEL PIT in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV47129Parent of: GRAVEL PIT in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV47130Parent of: GRAVEL PIT in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV48954Parent of: Hut circle in settlement 340 metres west of Hen Tor (Monument)
MDV112230Parent of: Iron Extraction Pits, north-west of Rowbarrow Plantation, (Monument)
MDV48420Parent of: Iron Pits on Black Down (Monument)
MDV11500Parent of: Iron pits on Dunkeswell common (Monument)
MDV11501Parent of: Iron pits on Dunkeswell common (Monument)
MDV49855Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV57199Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV47135Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Broadhembury, Kentisbeare (Monument)
MDV48423Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Broadhembury, Sheldon (Monument)
MDV49853Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Broadhembury, Sheldon (Monument)
MDV50037Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Dunkeswell (Monument)
MDV50038Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Dunkeswell (Monument)
MDV48419Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Kentisbeare (Monument)
MDV48422Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Kentisbeare (Monument)
MDV57521Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Kentisbeare (Monument)
MDV49854Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Sheldon (Monument)
MDV49857Parent of: OPEN CAST MINE in the Parish of Sheldon (Monument)
MDV50045Parent of: Pits in Dunkeswell parish (Monument)
MDV57200Parent of: Pits on North Hill, Broadhembury (Monument)
MDV50040Parent of: Possible area of iron working pits, Coronation Plantation (Monument)
MDV116805Related to: Open cast iron extraction pits north of Old Highwood farm, Dunkeswell parish (Monument)
MDV117155Related to: Possible open cast ironstone mine east of Stafford Moor, Broadhembury parish (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6530 - The East and Mid-Devon Rivers Catchment NMP project (Ref: ACD613)
  • EDV7508 - The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme (NMP) project (Ref: ACD1228)

Date Last Edited:Jun 7 2018 11:59AM