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HER Number:MDV14750
Name:Military Earthworks on Aylesbeare Common

Summary

Two parallel rows of pits visible on 1947 aerial photograph, possibly associated with 19th century military activity. Similar features further to the east.

Location

Grid Reference:SY 054 903
Map Sheet:SY09SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishAylesbeare
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishAYLESBEARE

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Prehistoric and Military Features on Aylesbeare Common

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY09SE/38
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FIELDWORK (Constructed, XVIII to XXI - 1751 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

Hutchinson, P. O., Untitled Source (Monograph). SDV345768.

Site of encampment of 19th century soldiers. A few hundred yards north of the barrows is a long line of square pits, running east and west for nearly a mile. They are called the "soldiers' pits" and are the remains of huts occupied by the soldiers of General Simcoe's troops, encamped there at the beginning of the 19th century, when the Napoleonic wars caused fears of French invasion.


Hutchinson, P. O., 1848-1894, Diaries (Un-published). SDV339321.

Visited 14th June 1861. Pits in line, with entrances on south-west. Also several circular trenches and associated banks. Paved pebble area. Suggested association with soldiers' encampment. Other details: Plan.


Hutchinson, P. O., 1862, On the Hill Fortresses, Tumuli, and some other Antiquities of Eastern Devon, 62-3 (Article in Serial). SDV338169.

A series of pits in two lines running for 3/4 mile across hill, a few hundred yards north of 2 clumps of fir trees. Represent General Simcoe's troop's "married quarters" of 1803-1804.


Royal Air Force, 1946 - 1949, Royal Air Force Aerial Photographs (Aerial Photograph). SDV342938.


Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1974/4466 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343022.

Other details: HER ref 37/71.


Horner, W., 1995, Military Earthworks (Personal Comment). SDV345765.

Site visit on 22nd May 1995. Two parallel rows of pits are visible on Royal Air Force 1947 aerial photographs. The features run for circa 250 metres, some 10 metres apart, running west-north-west-east-south-east. Approximate position marked on map overlay. Continue on Harpford common. The local Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve warden reports filling some of them in.


Basford, C., 2000, Military Earthworks (Personal Comment). SDV345767.

Pottery associated with pebbled areas appears to be late. Possibly early 20th century, pre-First World War. Suggests later military activity than Simcoe. The pits may be firing positions of a range, with targets across the depression to the north.


Exeter Archaeology, 2003, East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey, 10, Part 1; 66, Part 2: Gazetteer, Site No. 550 (Report - Survey). SDV101648.

Two parallel rows of pits, circa 10 metres apart, aligned west-north-west - east-south-east are visible on 1947 aerial photographs, running for circa 250 metres across Aylesbeare and Harpford Commons. The features cross the parish boundary bank at circa grid reference SY059902. In the Aylesbeare section most of the pits have been infilled, and some topsoil has been removed to promote heathland regeneration. Where the features cross the road, on the west side of the road a patch of pebbled paving is exposed, very similar to that noted further to the west (see site 38) in association with pottery of 19th or early 20th century. The features have been associated with General Simcoe's troops in the Napoleonic Wars, however, they appear to be later than this, although pre-World War One. Some of these pits were detectable during the field survey, although much obscured by dense gorse.


Exeter Archaeology, 2003, East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey, Site No. 550 (Archive - Survey). SDV358490.


Exeter Archaeology, 2003, East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey, Site No. 550 (Report - Survey). SDV359019.


Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, Site No. 2826 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Military Earthworks.
See description in East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey 10, Part 1; 66, Part 2: Gazetteer, Site No. 550 - SDV101648.


Exeter Archaeology, 2007, East Devon Access Land Archaeological Survey 2007, 25-26, Site No. 2826 (Archive - Survey). SDV351571.

Two parallel rows of pits, circa 10 metres apart, aligned west-north-west - east-south-east are visible on 1947 aerial photographs, running for circa 250 metres across Aylesbeare and Harpford Commons. The features cross the parish boundary bank at circa grid reference SY 059 902. In the Aylesbeare section most of the pits have been infilled, and some topsoil has been removed to promote heathland regeneration. Where the features cross the road, on the west of the road a patch of pebbled paving is exposed, very similar to that noted further to the east in association with pottery of 19th or early 20th century. The features have been associated with General Simcoe's troops in the Napoleonic wars, however, they appear to be later than this, although pre-World War One. Some of these pits were detectable during the 2002 EDH field survey, although much obscured by dense gorse.

There is a pit (date unknown) on west side of the road/track where the road crosses the parish boundary bank at 05882 90173, but features are probably otherwise not easily visible due to vegetation and under little threat from foot traffic. Be aware of potential features during vegetation clearance and avoid damage to them. Possible interpretation as pre-World War One military features.


Exeter Archaeology, 2008, East Devon Access Land Archaeological Survey 2007, 3, Site No. 2826 (Report - Survey). SDV351570.

Early features include trenches, pits, platforms and mounds.


Tilley, C., 2017, Landscape in the Longue Durée, 350-353, figs 11.5 (Monograph). SDV361032.

Visited in the 1860s, these features were thought to be late 18th/early 19th century military structures, tent bases, gutters and pits constructed by General Simcoe's men.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV101648Report - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003. East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey. Exeter Archaeology Report. 03.26. A4 Unbound + Digital. 10, Part 1; 66, Part 2: Gazetteer, Site No. 550.
SDV338169Article in Serial: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1862. On the Hill Fortresses, Tumuli, and some other Antiquities of Eastern Devon. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 18. Unknown. 62-3.
SDV339321Un-published: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1848-1894. Diaries. Devon Record Office Collection. Manuscript.
SDV342938Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 - 1949. Royal Air Force Aerial Photographs. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Digital). [Mapped feature: #81339 ]
SDV343022Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1974/4466. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV345765Personal Comment: Horner, W.. 1995. Military Earthworks.
SDV345767Personal Comment: Basford, C.. 2000. Military Earthworks.
SDV345768Monograph: Hutchinson, P. O.. The Sidmouth Guide. Unknown.
SDV351568Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003-2004. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey. Digital + Mixed Archive Material. Site No. 2826.
SDV351570Report - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2008. East Devon Access Land Archaeological Survey 2007. Exeter Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3, Site No. 2826.
SDV351571Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2007. East Devon Access Land Archaeological Survey 2007. East Devon Access Land Archaeological Survey 2007. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. 25-26, Site No. 2826.
SDV358490Archive - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003. East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey. East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey. Mixed Archive Material. Site No. 550.
SDV359019Report - Survey: Exeter Archaeology. 2003. East Devon Heathlands Archaeological Survey. Exeter Archaeology Report. 03.26. Site No. 550.
SDV361032Monograph: Tilley, C.. 2017. Landscape in the Longue Durée. Landscape in the Longue Durée. Digital. 350-353, figs 11.5.

Associated Monuments

MDV54220Related to: Military Earthworks on Aylesbeare and Harpford Commons (Monument)
MDV15120Related to: Possible Military Earthworks on Woodbury Common (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Mar 28 2019 10:19AM