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HER Number:MDV60108
Name:Medieval Defensive Ditch and Rampart on south side of North Street, Totnes

Summary

Part of the Saxon or medieval defences of Totnes.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 801 605
Map Sheet:SX86SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishTotnes
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishTOTNES

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX86SW/235/1

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • DYKE (DEFENCE) (XI to XVI - 1001 AD to 1600 AD (Between))

Full description

Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants, 1996, Assessment of Civic Centre Area, Totnes (Report - Assessment). SDV340328.


Dyer, M. J., 1999, Archaeological Observation and Recording at the Former Evans and Cutler Garage Site, North Street, Totnes, 3-5 (Report - Watching Brief). SDV141940.

Archaeological observation and recording in 1999 revealed the Saxon/medieval defensive ditch and rampart. Exposures of different portions of the ditch were seen in the foundation trenches for Houses 1 and 6 and the three intermediate pads in 1999. The ditch was V-shaped with a steep profile, particularly in its northern side. Pottery recovered included sherds of 11th or 12th century coarse ware in the organic silt layer at the base of the ditch which indicates that the ditch was allowed to silt up in this area at a relatively early date. The ditch had silted up considerably by the time the black burnt layer was deposited in the ditch, which may be a burnt building and produced pottery from between 1200 to 1500. The redeposited subsoil and clay layers above the burnt layer probably represent the deliberate infilling of the remainder of the ditch. The pits that cut these upper fills and the northern edge of the ditch contained pottery dating from 1200 to 1500, indicating that the ditch had been completely infilled by the beginning of the 16th century, corroborating Leland's account of the demolition of the town defences prior to 1542.

The rear of the rampart was exposed and recorded in the southwest corner of the site during excavations for a new retaining wall. A large pit, 2.8 metres in diameter, which contained a sherd of pottery dating after 1250, was cut into the rear of the rampart.

To the south of the rampart, was a deep layer or reddish-brown loamy clay with small to medium stones and charcoal flecks interpreted as a buried cultivation soil predating the construction of the rampart in the late Saxon period. This layer produced a sherd of Iron Age or possibly Roman pottery and a horse bone.



Weddell, P. J., 1999, Personal comment to A. M. Dick (Personal Comment). SDV159129.

Watching brief at the site of Evans and Cutler garage in 1999 recorded the boundary ditch of the medieval settlement at Totnes.


Dyer, M. J., 1999, The Historical and Archaeological Background of the Former Evans and Cutler Site, North Street, Totnes (Report - Assessment). SDV159130.

During work for present development, foundation trenches cut across the infilled ditch, which was V-shaped, 6.5 metres wide and 4.5 metres deep. A layer of black soil in the bottom of the trench contained a large quantity of animal bones and pieces from unglazed medieval cooking pots dating from before 1250. On the southwest corner of site, one sherd of Iron Age pottery was recorded from earlier cultivation soil sealed below the rampart.


Unknown, 1999, Untitled Source, 3 (Article in Serial). SDV159134.


Dyer, M. J. + Allan, J., 2004, An Excavation on the Defences of the Anglo-Saxon Burh and Medieval Town of Totnes, 53-77 (Article in Serial). SDV322415.

Salvage recording on the northern burh defences at Totnes recovered important evidence regarding their form and development suggesting that they had, indeed, been laid out on a new site in the later 9th or 10th century. Cultivation soil extended 2.5 metres underneath the back of the rampart and contained a single sherd of Saxo-Norman pottery. The early medieval defences consisted of a rampart circa 9.0 metres wide and a large ditch circa 10.0 metres wide and 5.0 metres deep. A primary organic deposit in the ditch was dated to the 11th or 12th century suggesting that some rubbish dumped in the ditch prior to circa 1200 had not been cleaned out. However, this does not necessarily mean that the defences were no longer being maintained. The ditch would still have been circa 4.0 metres deep and an overlying deposit containing 14th or 15th century pottery suggests that scouring continued until this time but more dating evidence from a variety of sites needs to be examined before a clear picture of the abandonment of the defences can be seen. However, it is worth noting that there is documentary evidence of the infilling of the town ditch on the southern side of the town in the early 15th century.

The collection of pottery from the Evans and Cutler site included five sherds of chert-tempered coarse ware dated to the Late Saxon and Norman periods, of which one sherd was securely stratified below the burh rampart. A bodysherd of a Rouen jug of circa 1180-1250 and sherds of regional imports from Dorset and possibly Hampshire were also found. The later medieval material consists entirely of Totnes-type wares.


Armitage, P. L., 2004, The Saxo-Norman Mammalian, Bird and Fish Bone from North Street, Totnes, 68-70 (Article in Serial). SDV322417.

A group of bone from the bottom fill of the town dtich, on the site of Evans and Cutler garage, comprised 35 mammalian, one bird and three fish bones. The mammals included horse, cattle, pig and dog. The three fish bones came from hake. Line-caught hake apparently dominated the medieval fishery in Devon. The single bird bone came from a goose. The assemblage is dateable to the 11th or 12th centuries.


Green, T., 2008, North Gate Lodge, Castle Street, Totnes: Results of an Archaeological Desk-Based Study, 29-30 (Report - Assessment). SDV342884.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV141940Report - Watching Brief: Dyer, M. J.. 1999. Archaeological Observation and Recording at the Former Evans and Cutler Garage Site, North Street, Totnes. Exeter Archaeology Report. 99.77. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3-5. [Mapped feature: #96526 ]
SDV159129Personal Comment: Weddell, P. J.. 1999. Personal comment to A. M. Dick.
SDV159130Report - Assessment: Dyer, M. J.. 1999. The Historical and Archaeological Background of the Former Evans and Cutler Site, North Street, Totnes. Exeter Archaeology Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV159134Article in Serial: Unknown. 1999. Devon Archaeological Society Newsletter. 73. A4 Stapled. 3.
SDV322415Article in Serial: Dyer, M. J. + Allan, J.. 2004. An Excavation on the Defences of the Anglo-Saxon Burh and Medieval Town of Totnes. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 62. Paperback Volume. 53-77.
SDV322417Article in Serial: Armitage, P. L.. 2004. The Saxo-Norman Mammalian, Bird and Fish Bone from North Street, Totnes. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 62. Paperback Volume. 68-70.
SDV340328Report - Assessment: Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants. 1996. Assessment of Civic Centre Area, Totnes. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants Report. K477. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV342884Report - Assessment: Green, T.. 2008. North Gate Lodge, Castle Street, Totnes: Results of an Archaeological Desk-Based Study. Southwest Archaeology Report. 060915. A4 Stapled + Digital. 29-30.

Associated Monuments

MDV46801Parent of: Medieval Pottery from the Rear of 51 Hight Street, Totnes (Find Spot)
MDV21815Part of: Medieval Borough of Totnes (Monument)
MDV15239Part of: Saxon Burh, Totnes (Monument)
MDV46802Related to: Earthwork on the North Side of North Street, Totnes (Monument)
MDV53882Related to: Totnes Town Wall to the rear of 54 High Street on South Street, Totnes (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV2275 - POT (Iron Age - 700 BC to 42 AD)
  • FDV398 - ANIMAL REMAINS (X to XII - 1000 AD to 1199 AD)
  • FDV399 - SHERD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV6654 - Excavation, Evans and Cutler Garage Site, North Street, Totnes Cutler garage site, North Street, Totnes Cutler garage site, North Street, Totnes

Date Last Edited:Jan 23 2013 9:43AM