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HER Number:MDV76315
Name:Hoof Prints at Northam Burrows


Sand and clay layer containing animal hoof prints, possibly representing a medieval land surface, revealed on Northam Burrows foreshore following storms.


Grid Reference:SS 441 316
Map Sheet:SS43SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishNortham
Ecclesiastical ParishNORTHAM

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LAYER (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Passmore, A. J., 2009, Archaeological Recording at Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon (Report - non-specific). SDV344271.

In March 2008 severe storms caused dramatic coastal erosion to the foreshore and dunes, exposing buried deposits including a layer of sand and clay, displaying animal hoof prints at four locations.
High tides in March 2008 caused considerable erosion and damage to the pebble ridge on the foreshore at Northam Burrows. The dunes around the edge of the burrows were also affected and subsequent survey established that these dunes had, in places, retreated by up to 25 metres.
At one location (centred on SS 44214 31679) beach sand and the pebble ridge had been removed to expose sandy clay deposits, including a layer with hoof prints. This exposure lies some 2.5 kilometres north-east of the submerged deposits at Westward Ho!.
Following the discovery of the hoof prints by a local resident a recording project was undertaken on the 28th and 31st of March, and the 4th of April 2008. Environmental samples were taken by English Heritage’s Regional Scientific Advisor, who also advised on the type of environmental assessment required. After being surveyed, a small area of prints was lifted and removed for possible display at the Museum of North Devon in Barnstaple.
Unfortunately, following the initial reconnaissance visit on 28 March the layer containing the footprints was eroded by tidal activity and/or buried by sand and pebbles. As a result detailed recording of all the footprints was not possible.
No artefacts were recovered from any of the layers, nor from the lower levels of dune deposits immediately east of the site.
The hoof prints all derived from cloven hoofed animals although the species have not been identified. No artefacts were present, and
the environmental samples did not yield material suitable for dating of the deposits.
However, some comparison can be made with the deposits previously recorded at Westward Ho!. The lowest deposits at Northam are some 4 metres higher than those recorded at Westward Ho!, and are of completely different character. On this basis, it is possible that the Northam deposits are relatively late; that is historic in date (perhaps early medieval or medieval) rather than prehistoric or Romano-British.

Passmore, A. J., 2009, Braunton Burrows Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Scheme. Archaeological Survey 2009, 2 (Report - Survey). SDV344652.

Passmore, A. + Knight, S., 2009, Farm Environment Plan (FEP), Updated Spreadsheet of Archaeological Sites (Un-published). SDV344664.

Passmore, A. J., 2013, Northam Burrows FEP Consultation Pro-forma (Report - non-specific). SDV356811.

Dick, A. M., 2014, Further Exposures (Personal Comment). SDV356285.

Further exposures reported to Barnstaple and North Devon Museum, following storms in January/February 2014.

Passmore, A., 2014, Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon: Higher Level Stewardship Scheme Archaeological Survey, 4, 6 (Report - Survey). SDV356810.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV344271Report - non-specific: Passmore, A. J.. 2009. Archaeological Recording at Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon. Exeter Archaeology Report. 09.70. A4 Stapled + Digital. [Mapped feature: #48351 ]
SDV344652Report - Survey: Passmore, A. J.. 2009. Braunton Burrows Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Scheme. Archaeological Survey 2009. Exeter Archaeology Report. 09.113. A4 Stapled + Digital. 2.
SDV344664Un-published: Passmore, A. + Knight, S.. 2009. Farm Environment Plan (FEP), Updated Spreadsheet of Archaeological Sites. Exeter Archaeology Report. Digital.
SDV356285Personal Comment: Dick, A. M.. 2014. Further Exposures.
SDV356810Report - Survey: Passmore, A.. 2014. Northam Burrows, Northam, Devon: Higher Level Stewardship Scheme Archaeological Survey. AC Archaeology. CD760/2/3. A4 Bound + Digital. 4, 6.
SDV356811Report - non-specific: Passmore, A. J.. 2013. Northam Burrows FEP Consultation Pro-forma. AC Archaeology Report. Digital.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4595 - Survey of Hoof Prints at Northam Burrows
  • EDV4737 - Stewardship Scheme Archaeological Survey, Braunton Burrows

Date Last Edited:Aug 13 2014 9:48AM