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HER Number:MDV20101
Name:Earthworks above Littlecombe Shoot, Branscombe


Multi-period field system and probably associated possible prehistoric clearance cairns or barrows on the cliff above Littlecombe Shoot.


Grid Reference:SY 184 882
Map Sheet:SY18NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBranscombe
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBRANSCOMBE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY18NE/27
  • Old SAM County Ref: 852
  • Old SAM Ref: 33049

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • EARTHWORK (Unknown date)

Full description


Defined by lynchets which occupy a narrow strip of cliff top about 260m in length with a maximum width away from the cliff edge of about 100m. Although it is likely that the field system once extended further inland, modern farming techniques have obliterated all upstanding traces apart from those close to the cliff. The visible remains comprise a series of scarps and banks with many of the scarps lying parallel to the cliff edge whilst the banks lie for the most part at right angles to it. Where surveyed in 1989 by the rchme, the banks were found to be between 2-4.5m long and 0.5-2m wide. Together, the banks and scarps define 5 or 6 small fields of characteristic iron age/romano-british type. Associated with the fields are a number of stone cairns some of which lie on the field banks. These cairns, of which there are about a dozen in number, are considered to be field clearance and are probably contemporary with the prehistoric working of the fields; they survive as low earth covered piles of flint stone. Previous commentators have suggested that they might be burial mounds but there is no evidence to support this view, the mounds are small, amorphous and bear no comparison to the known burial mounds which survive in this region of east devon. Where devoid of their earth cover they are found to comprise unadulterated flint and an excavation of one of the cairns in 1858 reported loose dry flints down to ground level. This would support the interpretation of field clearance (mpp).

Griffith, F. M., Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV677.

Vis=20/7/1983 + 26/7/1983 (griffith) as stated above, this area is considerably more complex than shown on the os 25" survey. The elements of the system appear to be one or more phases of 'celtic' fields represented by banks and lynchets, a number of cairns, presumably prehistoric (though whether ritual or agricultural is unclear), some more recent spoilheaps, the 'enclosure' shown on the map, and an apparent house platform. Extremely rough sketch in parish file, but would well repay detailed survey (griffith).

RCHM, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV7666.

Vis=6/3/1993 (rchm) the remains of 11 or 12 flint cairns closely associated with a multiperiod field system. See subsheets (rchm).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV1004.

On visits in 1971, 1972 and 1982, eight barrows or possible barrows were recorded to west of berry cliff camp. See sub-sheets for individual details taken from draft list of barrows in south and east devon. Branscombe nos 1-4 and 4c are all considered doubtful. One of these was opened by hutchinson and heineken on 8/9/1858 without result. Hutchinson (1880) thought they might be clearance cairns (grinsell).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119571.

Earthworks on cliff above littlecombe shoot.

Ancient Monuments, Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV119572.

Vis=9/12/1970 (ancient monuments) six round barrows and irregular earthen enclosure scheduled. All marked on os 25" map. See sub-sheets 1-7 for individual details.

THACKRAY + TIMMS, Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV119574.

Vis=23/3/1982 (thackray + timms) complex area of earthworks is visible to west of berry cliff camp. They consist of linear banks, mounds and very small banked enclosures. Some features have ditches. Much more survives than is shown on os 25" map and the features recorded by grinsell and doe cannot be firmly identified in absence of detailed survey. Interpretation of these earthworks is not easy. Some look prehistoric but many have irregular shape and may represent recent activity. Small plots on the cliffs were being cultivated in c 19 and there were also extensive quarries and limekilns in the area. Earthworks are under grass and extend beyond the scheduled area. The cliffs are used for hang-gliding and cars are parked here for that purpose. Visit by timms on 13/12/1979 noted that ditch to west of bank running nw-se at sy18568832 had recently been partially filled with rubble. The three stones shown by hutchinson (1862) are still visible. Land is pasture on tithe map.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119581.

Des=grinsell, l. /barrows of south and east devon/(1982)in smr.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119582.

Hutchinson, p. O. /tda/12(1880)122-151/report on the barrows near sidmouth/ no 84.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119583.

Hutchinson, p. O. /jbaa/18(1862)plate 4/plan.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119584.

Des=timms, s. /as above and photos in parish file.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119585.

Des=ta 453.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119586.

Des=robinson, r. /list of fmw visits/(19/1/1983)in smr.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119587.

Page, w. /victoria county history of devon/(1906)575/plan.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119588.

Des=griffith, f. M. /as above.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119589.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119590.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119591.

Des=survey drawing(1:1000)by rchme(1989)in parish file.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119592.

Grinsell, l. V. /pdas/41(1983)29.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119593.

Des=ntas/branscombe and salcombe regis/(1984)11/in pf.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119594.

Des=rchme survey of berry cliff camp/(1989)/in pf.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119595.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119596.

Des=salvatore, j. /(-/-/2000)/as above.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV119597.

Des=ancient monuments/(6/11/2002)/as above.

PAGE, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV18473.

One tumulus shown on plan. Mention of mounds formed by lime burners (page).

Salvatore, J. P., Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV23685.

Vis=est -/-/2000 (salvatore) prehistoric field system on cliffs above littlecombe shoot.

Exeter Archaeology, 2003-2004, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Archaeological Survey, 137 (Archive - Survey). SDV351568.

Complex area of earthworks to west of Berry Cliff Camp including banks, mounds and small embanked enclosures. Some features prehistoric but others probably modern including 19th century cultivation plots and quarrying/lime works. Features under grass and extend beyond scheduled area. Remnant of one or more phases of 'Celtic' field system represented by banks and lynchets. Mounds may be barrows or more likely clearance cairns associated with field system. Part of area is Scheduled Monument.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV1004Migrated Record:
SDV119571Migrated Record:
SDV119572Report - Survey: Ancient Monuments.
SDV119574Report - Survey: THACKRAY + TIMMS.
SDV119581Migrated Record:
SDV119582Migrated Record:
SDV119583Migrated Record:
SDV119584Migrated Record:
SDV119585Migrated Record:
SDV119586Migrated Record:
SDV119587Migrated Record:
SDV119588Migrated Record:
SDV119589Migrated Record:
SDV119590Migrated Record:
SDV119591Migrated Record:
SDV119592Migrated Record:
SDV119593Migrated Record:
SDV119594Migrated Record:
SDV119595Migrated Record:
SDV119596Migrated Record:
SDV119597Migrated Record:
SDV18473Migrated Record: PAGE.
SDV23685Report - Survey: Salvatore, J. P..
SDV331Migrated Record: Unknown. MIGRATED RECORD - MONUMENT PROTECTION PROGRAMME DATA. Monument Protection Programme. 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. 137.
SDV677Report - Survey: Griffith, F. M..
SDV7666Migrated Record: RCHM.

Associated Monuments

MDV20102Parent of: Barrow above Littlecombe Shoot, Branscombe (Monument)
MDV20104Parent of: Barrow above Littlecombe Shoot, west of Berry Camp, Branscombe (Monument)
MDV20105Parent of: Flint cairn above Littlecombe Shoot to west of Berry Camp, Branscombe (Monument)
MDV20103Parent of: Possible barrow above Littlecombe Shoot to west of Berry Camp, Branscombe (Monument)
MDV10927Related to: Earthwork Mound on Berry Cliff, East of Berry Camp, Branscombe (Monument)
MDV20098Related to: Limekiln south of Branscombe village, Branscombe (Monument)
MDV49237Related to: Multiperiod Field System and Clearnance Cairns, North of Littlecombe Shoot (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Aug 20 2019 10:20AM