Ancient Monuments

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Roman signal station 450m north of Marshall Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Ide, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6891 / 50°41'20"N

Longitude: -3.5787 / 3°34'43"W

OS Eastings: 288577.743567

OS Northings: 88903.267031

OS Grid: SX885889

Mapcode National: GBR QS.1XX2

Mapcode Global: FRA 37D8.1M7

Entry Name: Roman signal station 450m north of Marshall Farm

Scheduled Date: 8 November 1988

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002670

English Heritage Legacy ID: DV 1034

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Ide

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Ide St Ida

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a Roman signal station situated on the summit of a ridge overlooking the valleys of the River Kenn and two tributaries to the River Exe. The signal station survives mainly as buried features, visible on aerial photographs and detectable on the ground as a very slight earthwork up to 0.1m high. The signal station has an outer rectangular enclosure with rounded corners measuring up to 100m long east to west, defined by an approximately 2m wide ditch with no obvious entrance, surrounding an inner square ditched enclosure. The inner enclosure measures approximately 35m internally. Geophysical surveys have indicated the presence of a causeway across the inner ditch, with 1.5m diameter posts in the ditch terminals. Within the enclosure is an alignment of pits running NNE to SSW in the south east quarter. A row of circular features, including a pit of up to 2m diameter containing burnt material, lies to the south of the enclosure between the inner and outer ditches. The signal station is cut by a road which is excluded from the scheduling.

Sources: Devon HER:-20078
PastScape Monument No:-447102

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman signal stations were rectangular towers of stone or wood situated within ditched, embanked, palisaded or walled enclosures. They were built by the Roman army for military observation and signalling by means of fire or smoke. They normally formed an element of a wider system of defence and signalling between military sites such as forts and camps and towns, generally as part of a chain of stations to cover long distances. In northern England stations were used in particular to augment the main frontier formed by Hadrian's Wall, but elsewhere stations were constructed along the coast to keep lookout over the sea and to signal information both along the coast and to inland sites. Signal stations were constructed and used in Britain mainly during three distinct periods. The earliest examples were built between AD 50 and AD 117 for use during the earliest military campaigns during the conquest period. Signal stations at this period took the form of a wooden tower surrounded by a ditch and bank and possibly a slight timber palisade. After AD 117 towers were more usually built in stone, some on the same site as earlier timber towers. The latest series, in the mid-4th century AD, were more substantial stone signal stations built mainly along the Yorkshire coast. These had a tower up to 30m high which was surrounded by a curtain wall and external ditch. Signal stations survive as low earthworks, or their below ground remains may be identified on aerial photographs. Fewer than 50 examples have been identified in England. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are important in representing army strategy, government policy and the pattern of military control, signal stations are of importance to our understanding of the period. All Roman signal stations with surviving archaeological remains are considered to be nationally important. Despite reduction in the height of the ramparts through cultivation, the aerial photographic and geophysical evidence suggest the Roman signal station 450m north of Marshall Farm survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, longevity, military significance and strategy as well as its overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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