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HER Number:MDV10872
Name:Rectangular Enclosure at Lower Well Farm


Rectangular Roman earthwork at Lower Well Farm in Stoke Gabriel


Grid Reference:SX 863 575
Map Sheet:SX85NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishStoke Gabriel
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSTOKE GABRIEL

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX85NE/1/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 351
  • Old SAM Ref: 33797
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX85NE2

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ENCLOSURE (I to Roman - 1 AD to 409 AD (Between))

Full description

Ancient Monuments, Earthworks N.E. of Lower Well Farm (Schedule Document). SDV337308.

A small rectangular earthwork (98ft by 90ft), internally ditched and enclosed by a low bank. The entrance is in the centre of the south side. There are traces of a second bank and ditch on the east side. Possibly an Early Iron Age or Romano British homestead. Other details: County No 351.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX85NE2 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV337318.

Other details: SX85NE2.

Worth, R. N., 1891, President's Address: Localities of Roman Remains in Devon, 47 (Article in Serial). SDV158810.

Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 611 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.

Anon, 1955 - 1958, Roman Pottery Found on a Site at Stoke Gabriel, 44 (Article in Serial). SDV337310.

Note on surface finds of Roman pottery.

E. N. M. P., 1956 - 1958, Excavation of Possible Romano-British Site at Stoke Gabriel, 312 (Article in Serial). SDV337322.

Beer, E. J., 1958 - 1962, Archaeology Section Report, 28 (Article in Serial). SDV337311.

Report of Radford's excavations discussed.

Anon, 1959, Interim Report, 130 (Article in Serial). SDV337320.

Anon, 1960, Interim Report, 232 (Article in Serial). SDV337321.

Radford, C. A. R., 1960, Stoke Gabriel Excavations. Interim Report (1959), 449-453 (Article in Serial). SDV337319.

Fox, A., 1961, Twenty-Fifth Report on the Archaeology and Early History of Devon, 175-176 (Article in Serial). SDV341693.

Surface finds of 2nd century Roman pottery have been found.

Cambridge University, 1962, CUC/AFG, 76-77 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337030.

Masson Phillips, E. N., 1966, Excavation of a Romano-British Site at Lower Well Farm, Stoke Gabriel, Devon, 2-29 (Article in Serial). SDV337309.

The site was trenched by a Mr. H. Godson 'a number of years ago' (written 1966), but finds and excavation notes lost. Excavated 1958-1960 by Masson-Phillips. The sub-rectangular enclosure was found to have had a rock-cut medial ditch with a drystone wall to the inner bank, and its single entrance had a revetted return wall. It was evidently originally designed to be a work of some strength and refinement but was not completed as such. The ditch was filled in before it had all been cut, and parts of the wall were only roughly built. Its subsequent function was possibly as a cattle enclosure, no internal structures were found. Finds from this area were mostly unstratified; pottery included native and Roman wares dating to 1st and early 2nd centuries, with some extension into the 4th century, indicated by a coin of Constantius II (or Constans) and some glass; stratified items were an 1A bronze fibula (circa AD50) and a 2nd century cooking pot sherd under the rampart.

Peacock, D. P. S., 1969, A Contribution to the Study of Glastonbury Ware form South-Western Britain, 58 (Article in Serial). SDV135837.

Fox, A., 1973, South West England 3,500BC - AD600 (Revised Edition), 174 (Monograph). SDV16216.

National Monuments Record, 1980, SX8657:SF1748, 102 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337314.

Griffith, F. M. + Timms, S., 1983, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV337312.

The enclosure remains in good condition, in spite of having been subjected to cultivation. The rectangular enclosure survives to a height of at least 0.6m, as do the other earthworks. On the south side the bank appears to sit on a ledge or terrace - possibly a negative lynchet caused by ploughing against it.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/CF, 5, 5A (Aerial Photograph). SDV337323.

Griffith, F. M., 1984, DAP/DP, 6A, 7, 8, 9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337324.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/FQ, 7A, 8, 9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV147851.

Griffith, F. M., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 57 (Monograph). SDV64198.

A rare example of a farmstead still surviving in part in above-ground form. Central enclosure, where the farmstead itself was probably situated. Excavated by the late E. N. Masson Phillips. The enclosure itself, which unusually was dug into the limestone bedrock had been in use for only a short period of time before its ditch was allowed to fill up. The rock in the sides of the ditch was found to be fresh and unweathered when excavated. This may suggest some early change in the function or defensive requirements of the site after the construction of the enclosure.

Sainsbury, I. S., 1991, Untitled Source (Site Visit). SDV337315.

RCHME, 1992, IA/RB Farmstead & Field System (Report - Survey). SDV337316.

This enclosure, the main feature of the site, is located some 50m to the north west of the summit crest, and measures about 28m north west-south east by 25m internally within grassy banks up to 0.8m high. Masson Phillips found that these banks concealed a wall, mostly well built with dry-stone coursed masonry on both faces, containing an earth and rubble core. It varied in height from 0.76m to 1.22m and averaged 1.52m wide between faces. There was an outer flat-bottomed ditch on all sides except the north west. It had roughly vertical sides and had been crudely hacked out of the limestone to an average depth of 1.22m to 1.52m. Across the ditch, central to the south east side, there was a causeway 4.5m wide. It was opposite a 3.81m wide entrance break in the bank and had possibly been deliberately surfaced. The ditch was found to have been backfilled soon after its construction. Masson Phillips shows an outer bank on the north east and south sides of the enclosure. This is now extant only along the north side. North of the entrance it has been reduced to an inward facing scarp and from the entrance to the south east corner it has vanished. Along the south side of the enclosure there is now only a berm whose outer scarp merges with an apparent lynchet. Over half of the interior of the enclosure, predominantly on the east side, was excavated revealing below the thin turf cover a layer of rounded limestone blocks suggesting deliberate cobbling. All that was found within the enclosure were two or three possible isolated post holes and a fairly uniform scatter of pottery sherds. This pottery, a brooch and bones and shells found interspersed with the stone debris infix of the ditch, suggested a period of occupation attributed mainly to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Further possible use in the 4th century was indicated by the finding of a Constantinian coin lying on top of the ditch.

English Heritage, 2002, Earthwork Enclosures and Field Systems, 430m North East of Lower Well Farm (Schedule Document). SDV337317.

An ovoid earthwork enclosure, identified as a defended settlement, measuring a max of 170m from north west to south east across its visible earthworks, and at least 140m wide. The ramparts survive best on the north and east sides, where the inner bank measures from 2m to 4m wide, rising 0.7m from the interior and falling from 1m to 2m into an outer ditch 5m wide and from 0.2m to 0.5m deep. The bank gradually runs out to a shallow scarp on the west side, while on the east side the curvature is followed by two low banks 1.5m wide, 0.5m high and 8m apart. These terminate at an entrance. Inside this entrance, a small level area measuring 25m by 28m is enclosed by a bank from 2.5m to 5m wide and up to 1.2m high, with an outer ditch 3.5m wide and 0.5m deep on its north and east sides. This has a counterscarp bank 3m wide and 0.4m high. A terrace 2.5m wide on the south side falls away 1.3m for a distance of 3m. Excavations in 1958-1960 showed this smaller inner enclosure to have been occupied in the first and second centuries AD. A bank 2.5m to 5m wide and from 0.3m to 1.5m high, projects from the west side of the square enclosure into the centre of the ovoid enclosure for 66m to the north west. Other details: Monument No 33797.

Smalley, R. A. J., 2007, Lower Well Farm, Stoke Gabriel, 6-7 (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV345984.

A positive rectilinear anomaly is evident in the central region of the survey area. The cut features that make up this anomaly have associated negative anomalies indicating the presence of some form of bank and ditch arrangement. This rectilinear anomaly seems to be partly surrounded by a curvilinear arrangement of banks and ditches. The concentration of earthworks in the proximity of the rectilinear enclosure may suggest a centre of activity in this area. Other details: Figures 6-7.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV135837Article in Serial: Peacock, D. P. S.. 1969. A Contribution to the Study of Glastonbury Ware form South-Western Britain. Antiquaries Journal. 49. Unknown. 58.
SDV147851Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/FQ. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7A, 8, 9.
SDV158810Article in Serial: Worth, R. N.. 1891. President's Address: Localities of Roman Remains in Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 23. A5 Hardback. 47.
SDV16216Monograph: Fox, A.. 1973. South West England 3,500BC - AD600 (Revised Edition). South West England. Hardback Volume. 174.
SDV337030Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1962. CUC/AFG. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 76-77.
SDV337308Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. Earthworks N.E. of Lower Well Farm. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV337309Article in Serial: Masson Phillips, E. N.. 1966. Excavation of a Romano-British Site at Lower Well Farm, Stoke Gabriel, Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Exploration Society. 23. Paperback Volume. 2-29.
SDV337310Article in Serial: Anon. 1955 - 1958. Roman Pottery Found on a Site at Stoke Gabriel. Transactions of the Torquay Natural History Society. 12. Unknown. 44.
SDV337311Article in Serial: Beer, E. J.. 1958 - 1962. Archaeology Section Report. Transactions of the Torquay Natural History Society. 13. Unknown. 28.
SDV337312Site Visit: Griffith, F. M. + Timms, S.. 1983. Not Applicable.
SDV337314Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1980. SX8657:SF1748. NMR Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 102.
SDV337315Site Visit: Sainsbury, I. S.. 1991. RCHME Field Investigation. Not Applicable.
SDV337316Report - Survey: RCHME. 1992. IA/RB Farmstead & Field System. RCHME Report. A4 Stapled.
SDV337317Schedule Document: English Heritage. 2002. Earthwork Enclosures and Field Systems, 430m North East of Lower Well Farm. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV337318Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX85NE2. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV337319Article in Serial: Radford, C. A. R.. 1960. Stoke Gabriel Excavations. Interim Report (1959). Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 92. A5 Hardback. 449-453.
SDV337320Article in Serial: Anon. 1959. Interim Report. The Journal of Roman Studies. 49. Unknown. 130.
SDV337321Article in Serial: Anon. 1960. Interim Report. The Journal of Roman Studies. 50. Unknown. 232.
SDV337322Article in Serial: E. N. M. P.. 1956 - 1958. Excavation of Possible Romano-British Site at Stoke Gabriel. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 27. Unknown. 312.
SDV337323Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/CF. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 5, 5A.
SDV337324Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1984. DAP/DP. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 6A, 7, 8, 9.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 611.
SDV341693Article in Serial: Fox, A.. 1961. Twenty-Fifth Report on the Archaeology and Early History of Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 93. A5 Hardback. 175-176.
SDV345984Report - Geophysical Survey: Smalley, R. A. J.. 2007. Lower Well Farm, Stoke Gabriel. Stratascan Report. J2278. A4 Stapled + Digital. 6-7.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 57.

Associated Monuments

MDV50021Part of: Romano British Farmstead at Stoke Gabriel (Monument)
MDV50018Related to: Hollow Way at Lower Well Farm (Monument)
MDV5828Related to: Square banked and ditched enclosure east of Glasscombe Corner (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4958 - Geophysical Survey at Lower Well Farm, Stoke Gabriel

Date Last Edited:Mar 5 2019 12:18PM