South Devon National Landscape has entered the third year of its Coastal Heritage ‘Monument Management Scheme’funded by Historic England.

The project covers two areas within the South Devon protected landscape: Bolt Head to Bolt Tail coastline around Salcombe and the Dart Estuary area around Dartmouth.

It covers 11 scheduled monuments as well as other historic sites.

So far the programme has worked on 11 sites, carrying out geophysical and structural surveys, drone photogrammetry, vegetation management, interpretation, and consolidation.

A recent highlight of the programme has been a dig on the ramparts of the Bolt Tail promontory fort near Hope Cove, a Scheduled monument dating back to the Iron Age, 800BC to 43AD.

Additional funding for the dig was secured from Historic England, the National Trust, Devon County Council and from the South Devon National Landscape ‘Farming in Protected Landscapes’ programme funded by Defra.

Over the six day dig held recently, 14 volunteers working with Oakford Archaeology, gave up their time to investigate the ramparts below the erosion scar.

The dig
(South Devon National Landscape)

Specialists from Devon County Council, National Trust and Historic England worked together to draw up a plan for the dig and worked with Natural England to ensure that the works were balanced with the importance of both the archaeology and important wildlife of the site, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Andy Crabb of Historic England commented: “The success of this excavation is testament to the tremendous volunteers who worked on the dig, and the fantastic working relationships that has developed between the organisations involved in the project. We were able to seize an opportunity to carry out some archaeological investigation that will help not only inform the erosion repairs to this important site, but also increase our understanding, particularly around how and when it was constructed.”

Nicky Bailey South Devon National Landscape Community Officer said: “The week was a great success, we had a fantastic group of volunteers who battled on despite some rather unsettled weather and it was lovely to meet so many visitors to the site on the open afternoon, especially the number of enthusiastic children.”

Emma Reece Acting Lead Ranger for South Devon Countryside National Trust remarked how the site would be managed going forward: “the investigations are leading to a greater understanding of this area; identifying where the archaeological features are in more detail enables us to target scrub and bracken management to protect them, leaving other areas of scrub for nesting birds and shelter in this exposed coastal landscape.”

The finds included evidence of a steep sided ditch, earthworks, walls and revetments - part of the huge ramparts, which seem to have been built in three different phases, a post hole, and several pieces of black-burnished ware from the late Iron Age/early roman period.

There are two more digs planned during this last year of the project.

Bill Horner Devon County Council archaeologist led a walk at The Warren, Bolberry on July 14.

For more details contact: [email protected]