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HER Number:MDV48160
Name:Anti-tank ditches on the north-east side of Axminster

Summary

Anti-tank ditches visible as a substantial earthworks on aerial photographs taken in the late 1940s. Part of the Second World War Taunton Stop Line. Although substantially levelled by the 1970s, part of a ditch was visible on images derived from lidar data captured between 1998 and 2014.

Location

Grid Reference:SY 299 992
Map Sheet:SY29NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishAxminster
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishAXMINSTER

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SY29NE/269

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ANTI TANK DITCH (Constructed, World War II - 1940 AD to 1940 AD)

Full description

Royal Engineers, 1940, Plans of Taunton Stop Line (Cartographic). SDV325259.

Not recorded on Royal Engineer's plan.

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

Anti-tank ditches visible on Royal Air Force aerial photographs, running north-west to south-east on either side of the road/railway on the north-east side of Axminster. That to the north is about 143 metres long running between the river and the road while that to the south is about 225 metres long running down the east side of Mill Brook from the road junction just before the railway bridge. Part of the Axminster fortified area on the Taunton Stop Line. Map object previously based on this Source.

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1974, RAF/CPE/UK/1974 FP 1424-1425 11-APR-1947 (Aerial Photograph). SDV356127.

A linear earthwork ditch is visible with irregular earthwork banks either side.

Royal Air Force, 1948, RAF/CPE/UK/2431, RAF/CPE/UK/2431 RP 3199-3200 22-JAN-1948 (Aerial Photograph). SDV359315.

A linear earthwork ditch is visible with irregular earthwork banks either side.

Horner, B., 1995, Taunton Stop Line Survey Site Visit (Site Visit). SDV348813.

The anti-tank ditch on the north side of the railway appears to have been infilled.

Environment Agency, 1998-2014, LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution), LIDAR SY2999 Environment Agency DTM 01-JAN-1998 to 30-SEP-2014 (Cartographic). SDV359177.

An irregular linear earthwork ditch is visible.

Hollinrake, C. + Hollinrake, N., 2001, An Archaeological and Historical Desk Top Study of Land at Musbury Road, Axminster, 17, Fig 5 (Report - Assessment). SDV320907.

Blackwell, R., 2009, Cloakham Lawns, Axminster, Devon: Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment (Report - Assessment). SDV347557.

During the early part of the Second World War linear defensive lines, 'Stop Lines', were implemented to resist invasion. Stop lines enhanced existing topographic features with added defensive elements such as pillboxes, anti-tank blocks, and road and rail blocks and were essentially prepared battlefields. The Taunton Stop Line was constructed in 1940 and ran circa 71 kilometres from Bridgewater in Somerset to Axmouth, Devon. It principally followed the natural barriers of the River Axe and River Parrett, as well as the artificial linear barrier of principal railway lines. The defense was never fully implemented, as defensive strategy changed from linear defence to the defence of key areas.
Within the site, anti-tank cubes at the western edge of the site formed part of a group defending the bridge crossing the Yeovil Junction and Exeter Railway. An anti-tank ditch also defended the route from Chard Road to the railway crossing. The anti-tank ditch has been filled in and the pillbox has been removed.

Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R., 2016-2018, The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project (Interpretation). SDV359463.

A linear earthwork ditch in three parts, up to 5 metres in width, and flanked by earthwork banks of up to 11 metres wide on either side, is visible on aerial photographs taken in the late 1940s. It is part of previously recorded 1940-1941 anti-tank ditches that form part of the Second World War Taunton Stop Line.
The 1940s RAF prints held by Historic England have been recorded here as an additional source because there is a possibility that the prints may have been processed differently to those held by Devon County Council. This would potentially result in images on which archaeological features show slightly differently.
The earthworks were barely visible on aerial photographs taken in 1976, and appear to have been substantially levelled, although the north-west part of the ditch is still visible on images derived from lidar data captured between 1998 and 2014.

Action East Devon, 2017, Axminster Remembers, http://axremembers.actioneastdevon.org.uk/axminster-stories/norma-and-delphine (Website). SDV360244.

The interviewees state that during the war the tank traps became full of water, and they used to swim in them in the summer, particularly near Cloakham at Burnthouse Bridge.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV320907Report - Assessment: Hollinrake, C. + Hollinrake, N.. 2001. An Archaeological and Historical Desk Top Study of Land at Musbury Road, Axminster. Hollinrake Report. 230. A4 Stapled + Digital. 17, Fig 5.
SDV325259Cartographic: Royal Engineers. 1940. Plans of Taunton Stop Line. Royal Engineers Survey Plan circa July 1940. Unknown.
SDV342938Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 - 1949. Royal Air Force Aerial Photographs. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Digital).
SDV347557Report - Assessment: Blackwell, R.. 2009. Cloakham Lawns, Axminster, Devon: Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment. Cotswold Archaeology Report. 08205. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV348813Site Visit: Horner, B.. 1995. Taunton Stop Line Survey Site Visit. Taunton Stop Line Survey. Not Applicable.
SDV356127Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1974. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/1974 FP 1424-1425 11-APR-1947. [Mapped feature: #93115 ]
SDV359177Cartographic: Environment Agency. 1998-2014. LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution). Environment Agency LiDAR data. Digital. LIDAR SY2999 Environment Agency DTM 01-JAN-1998 to 30-SEP-2014.
SDV359315Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1948. RAF/CPE/UK/2431. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/CPE/UK/2431 RP 3199-3200 22-JAN-1948.
SDV359463Interpretation: Hegarty, C. + Knight, S. + Sims, R.. 2016-2018. The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme Project. Historic England Research Report. Digital.
Linked documents:2
SDV360244Website: Action East Devon. 2017. Axminster Remembers. http://axremembers.actioneastdevon.org.uk. Website. http://axremembers.actioneastdevon.org.uk/axminster-stories/norma-and-delphine.

Associated Monuments

MDV45243Part of: Axminster Strong Point on the Taunton Stop Line (Monument)
MDV119535Part of: The Taunton Stop Line (Monument)
MDV48161Related to: Anti-tank obstacles on the north-east side of Axminster (Monument)
MDV117278Related to: Anti-tank obstacles to north-west of Mill Brook, Axminster (Monument)
MDV117290Related to: Anti-tank obstacles to north-west of Mill Brook, Axminster (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7508 - The Blackdown Hills AONB and East Devon River Catchments National Mapping Programme (NMP) project (Ref: ACD1228)

Date Last Edited:Oct 11 2019 12:54PM