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HER Number:MDV125169
Name:Pebble platform on Aylesbeare Common


A platform was uncovered in 1996 during some topsoil-scraping work by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, in an area around 200 metres north-west of the summit cairn on the common. Excavated by the East Devon Pebblebeds Project in 2010-11, a pebble platform with 'horns' at one end was revealed. Two more platforms to the east were also investigated, all thought to date to the middle Bronze Age period.


Grid Reference:SY 053 902
Map Sheet:SY09SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishAylesbeare
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishAYLESBEARE

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PLATFORM (Constructed, Middle Bronze Age - 1500 BC to 1001 BC) + Sci.Date

Full description

Horner, W., 2011, East Devon Pebblebeds 2011, 16 (Article in Serial). SDV351764.

The East Devon Pebblebed Landscape Project appears to be vindicating the view of mid 20th century excavator George Carter, that many of the pebble structures are prehistoric in origin rather than being constructed by soldiers during training in the area in the Napoleonic Wars. The fact that there is a concentration of Bronze Age barrows on the Pebblebed Heaths lends support to this interpretation.

Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC, 2015-2017, 2015-2017 Aerial Photographs (Aerial Photograph). SDV361462.

The site of the 2010-11 excavations are clearly visible on the aerial photographs.

Tilley, C., 2017, Landscape in the Longue Durée, 219, 221-226, 232-262, Figs 6.19, 6.22-23 (Monograph). SDV361032.

During 1996 the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds had undertaken topsoil- scraping operations in a different area of the Aylesbeare summit: about 200 metres to the north-west of the summit barrow. A series of damaged pebble structures were uncovered and partly cleaned, and two were almost intact. These were subsequently covered over again with soil and their positions marked with small wooden posts. One of the best-preserved structures was uncovered in March 2010 by Toby Taylor of the RSPB and excavated during September by the project team. The subsequent year two further structures were relocated by the RSPB in the dense heath vegetation of heather and gorse and excavated.
The 2010 and 2011 excavations revealed three spectacular pebble structures very similar to those reported by Carter (Figures 6.19– 6.21). The long axis of all three platforms was north-east by south-west, and they were similar in size
One was trapezoidal in form but with ‘horns’ or extensions at the shorter end (SY 05327 90208). This is a unique feature of this particular platform. None of those recorded by Carter seems to have had ‘horns’ or extensions at the narrower end.
The platform is made up of 1,337 multi-coloured pebbles. It is 2.8 metres long, 1.6 metres wide at the broader end and 0.8 metres wide at the narrower end. Oriented north-north-east by south-south-west, t has two projecting ‘horns’ at the narrow north-north-east end. Excavation revealed the pebbles used in its construction had been deliberately set vertically rather than horizontally, with the bulk buried. The platform was partially damaged on the western side towards the narrower end. This might have occurred during the topsoil scraping or it could be earlier. There were also some recent fractures elsewhere on the western side.
Charcoal samples were taken from secure context beneath the platform, two calibrated radiocarbon dates of the later Middle Bronze Age period were produced, as well as one date of AD 1210 to 1280. No finds were made.
There were no traces of a rectangular covering mound or attached low circular platforms. If these did exist they had been removed by the earlier topsoil-scraping operations.
Dating and interpretation of the shape of this platform discussed in detail, referring to possible parallels of design from Bronze Age artefacts. See source for full details.

Watts, S., 2019, Aylesbeare Pebble Platforms (Ground Photograph). SDV365843.

Photos of two of the pebble platforms after excavation showing their curving shape.

Riley, H., 2019, Metric Survey of Pebble Platforms on Aylesbeare Common, Aylesbeare, East Devon (Report - Survey). SDV364547.

A GPS survey was carried out on the remains of three pebble platforms on Aylesbeare Common in order to record their location and morphology.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV351764Article in Serial: Horner, W.. 2011. East Devon Pebblebeds 2011. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 110. A4 Stapled + Digital. 16.
SDV361032Monograph: Tilley, C.. 2017. Landscape in the Longue Durée. Landscape in the Longue Durée. Digital. 219, 221-226, 232-262, Figs 6.19, 6.22-23.
SDV361462Aerial Photograph: Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. 2015-2017. 2015-2017 Aerial Photographs. Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. Photograph (Digital). [Mapped feature: #116391 ]
SDV364547Report - Survey: Riley, H.. 2019. Metric Survey of Pebble Platforms on Aylesbeare Common, Aylesbeare, East Devon. Hazel Riley. hazelril1-376131. Digital.
SDV365843Ground Photograph: Watts, S.. 2019. Aylesbeare Pebble Platforms. Photograph (Digital).
Linked images:3

Associated Monuments

MDV10445Related to: Barrow on Aylesbeare Common (Monument)
MDV10551Related to: Barrow, Aylesbeare Common (Monument)
MDV125170Related to: Pebble platform on Aylesbeare Common (Monument)
MDV125171Related to: Pebble platform on Aylesbeare Common (Monument)
MDV10573Related to: Two Tumuli on Aylesbeare Common (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8811 - Metric survey of pebble platforms on Aylesbeare Common

Date Last Edited:Jan 24 2024 9:04AM