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HER Number:MDV102983
Name:Highweek Street (West Side), Newton Abbot


Excavations below buildings demolished on the west side of Highweek Street prior to road widening in 1981 revealed evidence for several late medieval stone-built structures including a leather workshop in which a coin dated circa 1464 was found. Several of the buildings recorded prior to demolition were also found to contain evidence for these earlier buildings in the standing structures.


Grid Reference:SX 856 713
Map Sheet:SX87SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishNewton Abbot
Ecclesiastical ParishHIGHWEEK

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BUILDING (XV to Post Medieval - 1401 AD to 1750 AD)

Full description

Unknown, 14/02/1981, Homes Left High and Dry Centuries Ago (Article in Serial). SDV351313.

Excavations in Highweek Street have shown that street levels were raised by almost three feet in the 17th century probably because of flooding. Highweek Street was the main throoughfare in medieval Newton Bushel and the historic town plan can be traced on the ground giving a clear indication of deliberate town planning 700 years ago.

Ordnance Survey, 1855-1895, First Edition 1:500 Town Map (Cartographic). SDV338879.

Map object based on this source.

Timms, S. C., 1976, Excavations at Highweek Street, Newton Abbot (Article in Serial). SDV355010.

Excavation undertaken in 1976 on the site of a late medieval house. The stone building fronted Highweek Street, the main street of the medieval borough of Newton Bushel. It was a substantial single storey structure comprising an end room, wide cross passage and part of a second room set parallel to the street. An arched opening at modern street level, initially taken to be a door, was shown to be a window, the stone walls extending to about 1.5 metres below modern street level. This rise in ground level and the waterlogged conditions of the lower deposits meant that the internal details, including wooden posts and the footings of the cross-passage partitions were well-preserved.
Beneath and set back from the front wall of the house was a stone wall footing with an area of laid hurdling laid up against it. No structures relating to the 13th century foundation of the borough were found but the depth of build up highlights the archaeological potential of other sites on Highweek Street which is under stress from road and other improvements.

Timms, S. C., 1978, A362 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot, Improvement Scheme: A Report on the Archaeological Implications (Report - non-specific). SDV354674.

Outline of the archaeological implications of the proposed Highweek Street Improvement Scheme which is seen as essential to the relief of Newton Abbot's traffic problems. Despite modern changes the historic town plan can still be traced on the ground and gives a clear indication of the deliberate planning of the town more than 700 years ago. Highweek Street was the main street for the medieval borough of Newton Bushel while that of Newton Abbot had two main streets: Woolborough and East Streets.
Some small scale archaeological work has been carried out in Newton Abbot and a number of early historic buildings have been identified and recorded behind later facades including the Old Priests House, 15-17 Highweek Street which was demolished in 1975.
The proposed scheme will affect properties on the western side of the street with the demolition of nine buildings, four of them listed. It is considered that the scheme will result in the lost of a significant group of buildings of historic and archaeological value dating from the late medieval period to the 19th century. It will also seriously erode the historic town plan through the widening of one side of the medieval main street of Newton Bushel. It will also affect buried archaeological deposits. It is noted that adequate provision shall be made for the archaeological recording and investigation of the site prior and during the works.

Saunders, M., 1978, Public Enquiry: Highweek Street, Newton Abbot, Devon (Un-published). SDV351936.

Nos 13, 19, 21 and 27 Highweek Street are fairly simple buildings which are important as a group. No. 13 may well conceal an older core. Most of the external fabric is 18th century with a 19th century shopfront. Nos 19 and 21 bear all the hallmarks of a Regency villa and were clearly designed as a pair. No. 29 is by far the most interesting building. It appears to retain an older rear section but its main, front elevation which is a fine mid 18th century design is its most impressive element. No. 31 is an unlovely late Victorian intruder in hard brickwork with a first floor bay window and a token pediment at the roofline.
While it is recognised that the fact that Highweek Street is a medieval street does not mean that it must be retained on its present alignment and present width, the report considers that demolition on the scale proposed [one complete side of the street] can only impoverish the town's historical identity.

Markuson, K. W. + Thomas, R., 1981, Highweek Street Excavations, Newton Abbot, 1980 (Report - Excavation). SDV350301.

Excavations along the west side of Highweek Street, from Youngs Leisure centre to the Seven Stars Inn (Nos 1-41) undertaken prior to demolition and road widening. Several buildings were recorded prior to demolition, including No. 13 (Site A) which was found to contain the roof and wall beams of an earlier structure almost certainly belonging to the building found in the subsequent excavation. The 1980-1981 excavations showed that the east and west walls of the medieval building excavated in 1975 (No.15) continued under No. 13. However, the walls below No. 13 had been almost entirely robbed out probably when the later building was constructed. A cob wall, supported by widely spaced posts and set on a stone foundation, represented a party wall dividing the long building in half, the two halves being almost mirror images. The half below No. 13 had a similar passage to that found below No. 15 with a long room to the south with a hearth at the west end and two small rooms to the north.
Only the southern half of Site B was available for excavation due to the deep disturbances below Nos 3 and 5 caused by a cellar and culvert. No. 1, built in the 1930s blocked a building dated to circa 1800. Below the south end of No. 1 the remains of a small, square stone 19th century structure were found and between this and No. 3 was a cobbled courtyard. The foundations of the 19th century buildings were cut through almost 2 metres of sand used to build up the street surface above flood level. Below this was a layer of silty clay which had completely covered the remains of a medieval building. This comprised substantial stone walls with a wide entrance opening out onto an early road surface. The threshold was a heavy oak beam. Large oak planks found inside the building were probably the remains of a collapsed roof. Below the planks was found a coin dated circa 1464. The large number of leather off-cuts and other finds suggest that this was a leather workshop.
Site C covered the area below the demolished Nos 19, 21 and 23. The later levels contained spreads of charcoal mixed with lumps of iron slag suggestive of industrial activity in the late 18th/early 19th century. Below these levels were found the remains of a long medieval/post medieval building, circa 15 metres by 8 metres, constructed of coarse red sandstone walls, which ran parallel to Highweek Street. A short-lived passageway, similar to that found in the building in Site A, was found across the centre of the building. This was preceded by several phases of a normal wide entrance. Towards the north end of the front wall was a small entrance. A stone hearth, several floor surfaces and drains were found within the building.
Site D was below No. 29, one of the buildings surveyed prior to demolition. The standing building was a late Georgian structure with a fine wooden, gabled portico. An earlier wall was incorporated within the building. Excavation showed that building had two phases with two more prior to its construction. The earliest of these comprised a wall running at an oblique angle to the later phases. This was found to be resting on a back-filled ditch running parallel to Highweek Street. This ditch may have been a boundary ditch delimiting the northern end of Newton Bushel during the medieval period. There was some evidence to suggest that the ditch turned west along the north side of Bradley Lane.

Dudley, E. R., 1981, Road Widening. Highweek Street - West Side (Worksheet). SDV358468.

Moxon Browne, K. E., 1982, No 5 Highweek Street: Archaeological Inspection of Contractors' Trenches (Un-published). SDV354990.

An archaeological inspection of contractors trenches behind No. 5 Highweek Street disclosed three well-constructed foundation walls presumed to be for buildngs fronting Back Road. No other features were observed. Pottery was sparse and mainly 19th century. There were also a few pices of clay pipe stem and one or two small bones.

Unknown, 1983, Wolborough Street Excavations, Newton Abbot, 1983 (Leaflet). SDV359071.

Excavations carried out at Highweek Street in advance of road-widening in 1980-81 revealed the foundations of medieval houses on the principal street of Newton Bushel. The town declined in commercial importance after the mid 16th century when its market was closed, concentrating most trading activity in Newton Abbot. However, Newton Bushel later developed into an important industrial area with several mills, a brewery and a large tannery. All are now closed. The medieval town chapel of newton Bushel can still be seen in Highweek Street.

Pink, F., 2014, Devon Extensive Urban Survey Project. Rapid Assessment of Archaeological Interventions, 16 (Report - non-specific). SDV357343.

An excavation was carried out at Nos 1, 3, 13, 19, 21, 23 AND 29 Highweek Street (West Side), Newton Abbot in 1980 by the Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology.
Map object based on this source.

An excavation was carried at 15-17 High Street, Newton Abbot in 1975 by the Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology

Western Morning News, 25/11/1980, Dig in Highweek Street, Newton Abbot (Ground Photograph). SDV351312.

Photograph showing members of the Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology at work in Highweek Street. The site adjoins a previous excavation undertaken in 1976. The site is believed to date to around the 16th or 17th century.

Dudley, E. R., August 1983, Road Excavations (Worksheet). SDV359072.

Contact prints of road excavations in August 1983.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV338879Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1855-1895. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. First Edition 1:500 Town Map. Map (Digital).
SDV350301Report - Excavation: Markuson, K. W. + Thomas, R.. 1981. Highweek Street Excavations, Newton Abbot, 1980. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV351312Ground Photograph: Western Morning News. 25/11/1980. Dig in Highweek Street, Newton Abbot. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin.
SDV351313Article in Serial: Unknown. 14/02/1981. Homes Left High and Dry Centuries Ago. Western Morning News. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin.
SDV351936Un-published: Saunders, M.. 1978. Public Enquiry: Highweek Street, Newton Abbot, Devon. Typescript + Digital.
SDV354674Report - non-specific: Timms, S. C.. 1978. A362 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot, Improvement Scheme: A Report on the Archaeological Implications. Devon County Council. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV354990Un-published: Moxon Browne, K. E.. 1982. No 5 Highweek Street: Archaeological Inspection of Contractors' Trenches. Typescript + Digital.
SDV355010Article in Serial: Timms, S. C.. 1976. Excavations at Highweek Street, Newton Abbot. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Annual Report 1976. A5 Paperback + Digital.
SDV357343Report - non-specific: Pink, F.. 2014. Devon Extensive Urban Survey Project. Rapid Assessment of Archaeological Interventions. AC Archaeology Report. ACD473/1/1. Digital. 16.
SDV358468Worksheet: Dudley, E. R.. 1981. Road Widening. Highweek Street - West Side. Worksheet + Digital.
SDV359071Leaflet: Unknown. 1983. Wolborough Street Excavations, Newton Abbot, 1983. A4 Single Sheet + Digital.
SDV359072Worksheet: Dudley, E. R.. August 1983. Road Excavations. Worksheet + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV108494Part of: Seven Stars Inn, Newton Abbot (Building)
MDV29508Related to: Lovegate House, 1 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot (Building)
MDV102984Related to: Medieval Ditch on west side of Highweek Street, Newton Abbot (Monument)
MDV21821Related to: Newton Bushel Borough, Newton Abbot (Monument)
MDV102976Related to: Old Priest's House, 15-17 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6633 - 15-17 Highweek Street, Newton Abbot
  • EDV6605 - Highweek Street Excavations

Date Last Edited:Aug 27 2015 12:07PM