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HER Number:MDV50170
Name:Rectilinear enclosure at Orchard House, Modbury


Linear cropmarks which have formed over the levelled ditches of a double-ditched rectilinear enclosure of Romano-British date are visible on oblique aerial photographs taken in 1992.


Grid Reference:SX 644 506
Map Sheet:SX65SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishModbury
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishMODBURY

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Romano-British rectilinear, double ditched enclosure north west of Butland

Other References/Statuses

  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1024524
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX65SW/70

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RECTILINEAR ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD (Between))

Full description

Robinson, R., 1987 - 2000, Devon Post-Reconnaissance Fieldwork Project (Un-published). SDV342165.

Site lies on the south slope of a spur with a commanding view of the Erme estuary. No visible earthworks.

DCC, 1992, DAP 14395, DAP 14395/36 07-JUL-1992 (Aerial Photograph). SDV351493.

Dark cropmarks are visible.

Horner, B., 1992, DAP/VL, 35-6 (Aerial Photograph). SDV337328.

Horner, B., 1992, DAP/VM, 00-1 (Aerial Photograph). SDV119936.

Part of rectangular double ditched enclosure including the southwest corner, length 70 meters. Recorded from the air as a cropmark in 1992.

Horner, W. S., 1993, A Romano-British enclosure at Butland Farm, Modbury, 210-5 (Article in Serial). SDV339816.

The cropmark represents the south and part of the east and west sides of what is apparently a rectilinear enclosure. Plotted from thew aerial photograph it measures externally 60 meters east-west and by a minimum of 46 meters north-south, internally 42 meters by 20 meters. There is an interval of circa 10 meters between the 2 sets of ditches. Bisected by a pipe trench in 1993, and features recorded in section. The trench cut the 2 ditches in 2 places: the outer and inner ditches forming the west side of enclosure, and the 2 ditches forming the south side. The latter 2 bisected at a fairly oblique angle. Four internal pit or gully features were also exposed in section. These had not been visible on the aerial photograph. The outer ditch as recorded on the west side had an overall depth below ploughsoil of 1.5 meters and the inner ditch 0.9 meters. At the southeast corner the outer ditch was 1.9 meters deep. The outer, west ditch, was 3.33 meters wide, 1.67 meters deep, with a steep V-shaped profile. It was cut directly into the shillet, although the east side was partly formed of fragmented sandstone outcrop. The lowest fill was a fairly uniform silty-loam with occasional flecks of charcoal and shillet. This probably represents initial weathering of the sides. The basal fill also contained a single sherd of Roman (1st-4th century) South Devon ware. The interface of the lower fill with the upper, a light brown loam, was marked by a band of small stones, charcoal and a concentration of shillet flecks, the last possibly representing the redeposition of part of an internal bank by ploughing. Set 0.77 meters back from the lip of the ditch was a small pit feature, 0.27 meters wide by 0.17 meters deep with a concentration of charcoal at its base. This may be the base of a posthole representing either a timber revetment to the front of an internal bank, or a palisade line inserted through the thickness of the bank. No trace of a bank was recorded. The outer ditch on the south side was circa 1.5 meters deep with a V-shaped profile. A shallow depression 0.14 meters deep on the west side of the ditch may be a similar feature to the post-hole above. The inner ditch on the west side, seen in oblique profile, was 2.33 meters wide, 0.99 meters deep, with a roughly V-shaped profile, steeper on the inner face than the outer. The inner ditch on the south side, though distorted by the oblique angle of the trench, shows essentially a similar profile and silting sequence though without the concentration of weathered material in the base, and perhaps having a slightly broader, flatter base. The 4 internal features were recorded only on the north side of the trench, as the south side had recently been heavily disturbed. It is not possible to say whether they represent pits, postholes or ditches and gullies, or at what angle they were bisected by the trench. One of them, a shallow flat-bottomed scoop, contained a single minute fragment of fired clay and a broken and burnt river pebble of a type found on the southern fringes of Dartmoor. Fieldwalking following ploughing in 1994 recovered only modern artefacts.

Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M., 2006, The Land Named from the Sea? Coastal Archaeology and Place-names of Bigbury Bay, Devon, 70 (Article in Serial). SDV339814.

Enclosure at Butland Farm, Modbury of Romano-British date.

Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2019-2020, The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP) (Interpretation). SDV362982.

Linear cropmarks, interpreted as having formed over levelled ditches, circa 2.5m wide, are visible on oblique aerial photographs taken in 1992. The cropmarks define the east, south and west sides of a double-ditched rectilinear enclosure that measures circa 70m across, with the inner and outer enclosure circuits spaced circa 5m apart. The morphology of the cropmarks suggests a prehistoric or Romano-British date.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV119936Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1992. DAP/VM. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 00-1.
SDV337328Aerial Photograph: Horner, B.. 1992. DAP/VL. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 35-6.
SDV339814Article in Serial: Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M.. 2006. The Land Named from the Sea? Coastal Archaeology and Place-names of Bigbury Bay, Devon. Archaeological Journal. 163. A5 Paperback. 70.
SDV339816Article in Serial: Horner, W. S.. 1993. A Romano-British enclosure at Butland Farm, Modbury. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 51. Paperback Volume. 210-5.
SDV342165Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1987 - 2000. Devon Post-Reconnaissance Fieldwork Project. Devon Post-Reconnaissance Fieldwork Project. A4 Unbound.
SDV351493Aerial Photograph: DCC. 1992. DAP 14395. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). DAP 14395/36 07-JUL-1992. [Mapped feature: #118719 ]
SDV362982Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2019-2020. The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP). Historic England Research Report. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV4848Related to: Early Medieval Settlement at Meadowsfoot Beach (Monument)
MDV40102Related to: Enclosures near Mount Folly Farm, Bigbury (Monument)
MDV2807Related to: Settlement at Bantham Ham (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV1098 - POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV8098 - The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping (formerly NMP) Survey, Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (Ref: ACD2040)

Date Last Edited:Jul 31 2019 4:09PM