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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 915664

Hob Uid: 915664
Location :
Devon
North Devon
Lynton and Lynmouth
Grid Ref : SS6977049200
Summary : A substantial field system is visible at Lee Abbey representing the Bronze Age to the present day. Part of the field system is visible on aerial photographs as a series of earthworks.
More information : SS 698 492. The remains of a field system at Lee Abbey.

Seen by McDonnell (1) as a miscellaneous group of earthworks, parchmarks, linear and ring-shaped banks and platforms on air photos (2) around Lee Abbey and thought to be possibly associated with a disused golf course.

SS 698 492. The fields around Lee Abbey are now under pasture and the much ploughed remains of earlier cultivation are visible as terracing and curvilinear lynchets (up to 1.5m high and 3m wide) in fields surrounding the main buildings. Also evident are several small levelled areas A-H. (See 1:1000 Survey for exact extent).

A: SS 6952 4922. An almost rectangular levelled platform on a gentle west-facing slope. It is 23m N-S by 4.3m internally and built up to 0.7m high at the front cut in to 0.5m at the rear. It lies parallel with surrounding cultivation terraces and could either be a small plot or a building platform, though there is no evidence of foundations.

B: SS 6962 4927. Set on a slope the remains of an apparent circular platform about 9m diameter and 0.9m high scarp around the front. The rear eastern side merges into the slope.

C: SS 6966 4926. A similar feature to B but slightly larger at 10m diameter with frontal scarp 0.5m high.

D: SS 6957 4914 & E: SS 6959 4915. Two rectangular platforms about 34m E/W by 12m, and 42m E/W by 10m respectively. They are set into the northern side of the road and their frontal scarps are only about 1m high at best. These may be no more than the lynchets of small fields cut by the line of the road and their fronts formed by small linear scarp of a former fenceline.

F: SS 6956 4906. A possible building platform, about 6m E/W by 2m internally, set into the bottom of the steep wooded slopes. Its frontal scarp, overlaid by a large boulder, is about 1m high but its rear merges into the natural slope. Its south-west end is approached by an old path and a track skirts its lower front side. Probably relatively modern although no stonework is evident.

G: SS 6961 4908. At the base of the same wooded slopes some 50m to the north-east is a sub-rectangular platform about 20m E/W by 7m internally. Its front and rear scarps are about 1.1m high and it is accessed at the open east end.

H: SS 7003 4931. A rectangular platform, levelled into the slight slope, about 22m NE/SW by 6.5m within front and rear scarps 0.7m high. Stone could be probing the frontal scarp but none was evident above ground. Most probably a building stance.

I: SS 7007 4935. The remains of a well ploughed circular platform about 10m diameter within front and rear scarps 0.6m high.

J: SS 7011 4944. A similar though less well defined circular platform approximately 10m in diameter. It is mainly evident as a curved frontal scarp about 0.7m high. The rear merges into the gentle slope. I & J mark the sites of two circular features shown on the 1946 air photos (b). They had been ploughed out by 1972 as they are not evident on air photos (3) taken then.

K: SS 6985 4908. A well defined modern rectangular platform 20m E/W by 9m. Its frontal scarp is built up 1.7m high onto the steep natural slope and it is cut in to the same depth at the rear.

L: SS 6983 4911. A turf-covered stoney mound 7.5m diameter and 0.7m high. It appears to overlie a large lynchet on its northwest side and is probably a clearance heap.

Summary.

The precise date of these earthworks and associated features is uncertain. The area is first shown as enclosed fields on the 1840 Tithe Map (4). However taking into consideration : 1) The morphology of the earthworks, 2) A leaf-shaped, basal-looped Bronze Age spearhead (SS 64 NE 12) found in the grounds of Lee Abbey, 3) A saddle quern (SS 74 NW 6) found at the eastern end of these earthworks, and 4) the remains of a prehistoric settlement (SS 74 NW 8) containing enclosures, hut circles and a field system, only 500m to the east of this site, it is almost certain that some of these remains, probably those to the north east, are prehistoric in origin.
The two circular features, I and J, may possibly have been hut platforms.

Lee Abbey was the site of the manor (SS 64 NE 14) of the Wichelhalses from the mid 17th century and elements of the earthworks, primarily those to the west and south may date from this period. From 1924 to 1939 Lee Abbey was used as a hotel, a golf course was constructed on the surrounding fields (5). Though there is no clear evidence of this on the 1946 air photos (2), some of these earthworks may relate to this period as well as to modern field boundaries only recently removed.

The earthworks are therefore almost certainly multi-period in origin showing remains of cultivation from the Bronze Age to the present day.

(Note: These earthworks extend over the east edge of this plan into SS 74 NW but they have all been treated under this one site number). (6)

The banks and earthworks are visible on aerial photographs taken in 1946, as are the circular features I and J, and the rectangular platform H; however, they do not appear on later photographs, and were most likely destroyed by ploughing and other improvement activities in the mid 20th century. They are not depicted on the 1st or 2nd edition Ordnance Survey maps of the area (9-11).

Sources :
Source Number : 1
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 : 2
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : RAF 106G/UK 1655/3155-56 Jul 46. MAM/2584 Jun 78 (Nat Park Collection in Exmoor House).
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Source Number : 11
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500 1904
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Source Number : 3
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : Devon 'T'Blk1/Somerset 'C'Blk2, 023, 15-Apr-72.
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Source Number : 4
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Lynton Tithe Map 1840 Devon Rec Off.
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Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Purdon, R. Feb 1985 Leaflet A Brief History of Lee Abbey.
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Sainsbury, I.S. 30-Mar-94 RCHME Field Investigation.
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Source Number : 7
Source : Lee Abbey/ink survey
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Source Number : 8
Source : Lee Abbey/ink survey
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Source Number : 9
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/1655 3156-57 11-JUL-1946
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Source Number : 10
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500 1889
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Monument Types:
Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 17952
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Devonshire)
External Cross Reference Number : SS 74 NW 52
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SS 64 NE 71
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1462923
Relationship type : General association

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