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HER Number:MDV41932
Name:Roman Fort at Couchill, Seaton

Summary

Possible Roman fort site at Couchill.

Location

Grid Reference:SY 236 904
Map Sheet:SY29SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishSeaton
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSEATON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY29SW/217

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FORT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD (Between))

Full description

Stukeley, W., 1776, Itinerarium Curiosum, 159 (Monograph). SDV120084.

In 1776 William Stukeley wrote of his visit to Seaton: 'Half a mile off, upon higher ground, on the western side [of the Axe] is a castle in a pasture, but formerly tilled, called Honey Ditches: it is moted about, and perhaps walled; for they dig up much square stone there. The place is an oblong square, containing about three acres: I guess it to have been the garrison of the port'.


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

Hutchinson concluded that Stukeley was not referring to the Honeyditches villa site and in 1865 he and Heineken located earthworks at the top of Coochill. He adds: 'A man called Robins, of Seaton, told us he had been employed there about two years ago digging stone, at the top or south end of field a [Hutchinson's accompanying sketch indicates that this is the field called Long Meadow on the Tithe Apportionment map]; that the stone lay in the ground in lines as if they had been thrown into trenches and covered over; and that they took away scores of cartloads. From the position of this hill, commanding as it does the estuary of the ax [sic], and the whole valley up to Axminster, this looks as if it had been a station'.


Davidson, J., 1861, Notes on the Antiquities of Devonshire which date before the Norman Conquest, 70 (Monograph). SDV348523.

In 1861 James Davidson further recorded: 'At a short distance from Hill Farm other remains, but of a later period, were formerly visible. They were those of an entrenchment, called Hannaditches, about three quarters of a mile from the mouth of the Axe. This earthwork was of a form nearly circular, and if completed would have inclosed an area of about three acres, but it was unfinished on the western side where the ground rises above its site. The vallum was slight, and seemed to have been hastily thrown up for temporary occupation. All traces of Hannaditches have now disappeared, the vallum having been levelled into the fosse, and the whole brought under the action of the plough'. [It is unclear if Davidson and Stukeley are referring to the same site.]


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 609 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.


Holbrook, N., 1987, Trial Excavations at Honeyditches and the Nature of the Roman Occupation at Seaton, 65-68 (Article in Serial). SDV120090.

Hutchinson's accompanying sketch gives some indication of the largely robbed earthwork: the south-west side defined by a ridge circa 64 metres long with a measurement of circa 67 metres at right angles to it may indicate the extent of stonework recovered from the north-west side. The sketch suggests that the site was at SY23609040. Stukeley's description is probably more accurate than Davidson's as the earthwork was evidently better preserved in his day. The hill is now covered in housing and part of its south face has been quarried. Davidson and Hutchinson suggest the site was a Danish Camp, but the squared stone and lack of medieval references suggest that the site was Roman. Stone defences were not used in auxiliary forts in britain before the Trajanic-Hadrianic period. Holbrook further argues that the tile, bearing a stamp of the 2nd Augustan legion came from this site rather than from the Honeyditches villa site, which supports a suggested military connection, as does the reinterpretation of the villa as a mansio. Possibly a 3rd or 4th century AD fort, 1.2 hectares. Not necessarily legionary occupation, probably auxiliary or fleet.


Holbrook, N., 1987, Trial Excavations at Honeyditches, Seaton, 10-11 (Report - Excavation). SDV120091.


Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J., 1993, Archaeological Appraisal of the Salt Industry on Seaton Marshes, East Devon, 2 (Report - non-specific). SDV120092.


Turton, S. D., 1994, Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Axe Estuary Local Nature Reserve, 1 (Report - Assessment). SDV120094.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV120084Monograph: Stukeley, W.. 1776. Itinerarium Curiosum. Itinerarium Curiosum. Photocopy + Digital. 159.
SDV120090Article in Serial: Holbrook, N.. 1987. Trial Excavations at Honeyditches and the Nature of the Roman Occupation at Seaton. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 45. Paperback Volume. 65-68. [Mapped feature: #91263 ]
SDV120091Report - Excavation: Holbrook, N.. 1987. Trial Excavations at Honeyditches, Seaton. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 87.07. A4 Stapled + Digital. 10-11.
SDV120092Report - non-specific: Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J.. 1993. Archaeological Appraisal of the Salt Industry on Seaton Marshes, East Devon. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 93.93. A4 Stapled + Digital. 2.
SDV120094Report - Assessment: Turton, S. D.. 1994. Archaeological Assessment of Proposed Axe Estuary Local Nature Reserve. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 94.72. A4 Grip Bound. 1.
SDV339321Un-published: Hutchinson, P. O.. 1848-1894. Diaries. Devon Record Office Collection. Manuscript.
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 609.
SDV348523Monograph: Davidson, J.. 1861. Notes on the Antiquities of Devonshire which date before the Norman Conquest. Notes on the Antiquities of Devonshire which date before the Norman Conques. Unknown. 70.

Associated Monuments

MDV14057Related to: Honeyditches Roman Villa, Seaton (Monument)
MDV14070Related to: Honeyditches, Seaton (Monument)
MDV42591Related to: Roman Harbour at Seaton (Monument)
MDV41933Related to: Roman Tile from Couchill or Honeyditches (Find Spot)
MDV14060Related to: Roman Tile from Honeyditches or Couchill, Seaton (Find Spot)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Apr 27 2015 3:20PM