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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 915074

Hob Uid: 915074
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Martinhoe
Grid Ref : SS6791046720
Summary : A prehistoric settlement and field system with hut circles is visible on aerial photographs and at ground level as a series of earthworks on the south-east slopes of Martinhoe Common. The presence of the hut circles suggest a Bronze Age or later date.
More information : SS 679 466. A settlement consisting of three hut circles and the remains of a field system.

An area of some 12ha (400m E/W by 300m centred on SS 679 467) on gentle south-west-facing slopes at about 280m OD on the south-east side of Martinhoe Common, is shown on the 1889 (1) and 1904 (2) Ordnance Survey maps as open moorland and was not incorporated into pasture until 1945 (3). McDonnell (4) notes that the 1946 air photos show this area to be covered by ridge and furrow.

SETTLEMENT.
SS 6802 4669. Set into the slope, in what is now rough grassland last ploughed in the early 1980's, are the remains of a hut circle (A). It has been reduced by ploughing but is nevertheless clearly evident as a platform 8m in diameter within a turf-covered stony bank, no more than 0.3m high at best, spread to about 2.3m. Around the northern uphill side the bank is predominantly an inner scarp. There is no trace of an entrance but it was probably in the south. The remains of a turf-covered field wall (D), about 0.2m maximum height and spread to 2m, extends from the east side of the hut south for some 20m before fading in the turf.

SS 6792 4673. A second hut circle (B) levelled into the slope. McDonnell interpreted this from the air photos (5) as a possible tree ring but it is clearly the foundations of a hut. it is about 8m diameter inside a turf-covered wall now mainly reduced to an inner facing scarp O.5m maximum height 2.3m wide. Soil slip has tended to obscure the front southern rim of the platform. No entrance is apparent but it was most likely in the south.

SS 6791 4679. The ill-defined remains of a possible third hut (C), much reduced by ploughing , visible as a platform levelled into the slope. It is about 6m diameter and the backscarp is about 0.5m high.

FIELD SYSTEM
As stated the area has now been enclosed and ploughed and is now predominantly under pasture: some areas utilised as hay fields and others left to rough grass. The remains of an earlier field system are spread out along these south-facing slopes from about SS 6775 4693 to SS 6807 4665. This system is defined mainly by low turf-covered stony banks, no more than 0.2m maximum height and spread to 2m to 2.5m wide. There are also a few lynchets at SS 6778 4667, SS 6785 4670 and SS 6792 4666 (alongside a cairn SS 64 NE 43). There appear to have been more lynchets spread over the southern slopes of this area but these have been too reduced by ploughing to be confirmed.

The system may have extended northwards some 800m onto Martinhoe Common; where there are remnants of much ploughed down features, possibly field banks, lynchets and hollow ways (see SS 64 NE 35; and westwards about 1km where there is a hut circle, field banks and lynchets (see SS 64 NE 45).

There is now no trace of the 'ridge and furrow' noted by McDonnell. It is probable that this was merely the intitial ploughing of the area in 1945 to break up the heathland.

The bank D, running south from hut A and forming a small field about 30m square to the southwest, suggests that the field banks are contemporary with the huts circles and therefore originally prehistoric, though they may have been re-used at some later period (s).

From SS 6774 4690 south to SS 6773 4660 is a hollow way, part of a route from Woody Bay in the north across Martinhoe Common to Parracombe in the south. This hollow way, shown on the Martinhoe tithe map (6) before the enclosure walls were built, may originally have been contemporaneous with the field system.

See attached 1:2500 plan for extent of features. (7)

The hut circles described above and field system are visible on aerial photographs examined as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme Project in 2007-2008. The hut circles are visible on vertical photographs from 1946, while the field system can be seen on photographs as recent as 2008. The settlement is particular clear on oblique photographs taken in Feb 2008 (10), which also shows overlying ridge and furrow ploughing as described by Richard McDonnell. This ridge and furrow is unlikely to be modern, as it is sinuous, almost S-shaped in form, and is therefore more likely to date to the medieval period. Previous authorities have described the settlement and field system as belonging to the Prehistoric or Roman period; however the presence of the hut circles indicates that the settlement is Bronze Age or later (8-10).

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1989 1:2500 Devon Sheet 6:3.
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Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1904 1:2500 Devon Sheet 6:3.
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Bridle H. 1991 Woody Bay
Page(s) : 86
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : McDonnell R. CRAAGS Exmoor Air Photo Survey 1977-85.
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Source Number : 5
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : RAF 106G/UK 1655 3191/92 Jul-46.
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Source Number : 6
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Martinhoe Tithe Map 1842 Devon Rec Off.
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Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Sainsbury IS 21-Jul-1993 RCHME Field Investigation.
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Source Number : 8
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1655 3191-92 11-JUL-1946
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Source Number : 9
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/72065 151-52 15-APR-1972
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Source Number : 10
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SS 6846/001 (24931/026) 12-FEB-2008
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Bronze Age
Display Date : Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -700
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Field System, Hut Circle
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Later Prehistoric
Display Date : Later Prehistoric
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Field System, Hut Circle
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Prehistoric, Roman
Display Date : Prehistoric Or Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : -500000
Monument Type : Settlement, Field System, Hut Circle
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Ridge And Furrow
Evidence : Levelled Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 17937
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : HER Number (Exmoor National Park)
External Cross Reference Number : MDE11179
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 64 NE 34
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: WEST EXMOOR PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-04-01
End Date : 2009-07-01