Ancient Monuments

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Earthwork enclosures and field systems, 430m north east of Lower Well Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Stoke Gabriel, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4068 / 50°24'24"N

Longitude: -3.6005 / 3°36'1"W

OS Eastings: 286362.502892

OS Northings: 57548.00117

OS Grid: SX863575

Mapcode National: GBR QR.FYCY

Mapcode Global: FRA 37BZ.C3M

Entry Name: Earthwork enclosures and field systems, 430m north east of Lower Well Farm

Scheduled Date: 14 February 1955

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020163

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33797

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Stoke Gabriel

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Stoke Gabriel St Gabriel

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a group of earthworks representing settlement and
farming practices of Iron Age, Romano-British and late Roman date, on a
gently sloping hilltop with wide views in all directions. A limestone
pavement underlies the site.
The monument survives as an ovoid earthwork enclosure, identified as a
defended settlement, measuring a maximum of 170m from north west to south
east across its visible earthworks, and at least 140m wide. The ramparts
survive best on the north and east sides, where the inner bank measures
from 2m to 4m wide, rising 0.7m from the interior and falling from 1m to
2m into an outer ditch 5m wide and from 0.2m to 0.5m deep. The bank
gradually runs out to a shallow scarp on the west side, while on the east
side the curvature is followed by two low banks 1.5m wide, 0.5m high and
8m apart. These terminate at an entrance. Inside this entrance, a small
level area measuring 25m by 28m is enclosed by a bank from 2.5m to 5m wide
and up to 1.2m high, with an outer ditch 3.5m wide and 0.5m deep on its
north and east sides. This has a counterscarp bank 3m wide and 0.4m high.
A terrace 2.5m wide on the south side falls away 1.3m for a distance of
3m. Excavations in 1958-1960 showed this smaller inner enclosure to have
been occupied in the first and second centuries AD. A bank 2.5m to 5m wide
and from 0.3m to 1.5m high, projects from the west side of the square
enclosure into the centre of the ovoid enclosure for 66m to the north
west. Small sub-rectangular fields to the east and south east are
subdivided by banks from 2.5m to 5m wide and up to 1m high. A circular hut
which survives as a bank 3m wide and 0.6m high enclosing a semcircular
area 6.5m wide, was found during the excavations to have been occupied
during the fourth century AD.
Three long medieval cultivation terraces on the south west side of the
site measure from 12m to 29m wide, with scarps 3m to 5m wide and up to
1.5m high. Open field cultivation in the field to the south continued
until the mid-19th century. A series of small irregular quarry pits 5m to
10m wide and 0.8m deep on the eastern side of the scheduling were
excavated to provide stone for the post-medieval wall alongside. All track
surfaces, fence posts and a farm building which stands at the western
corner of the site are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath all these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were
constructed and occupied in south western England. At the top of the
settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition
to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also
constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent
positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an
enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen
construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate
sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second
phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where
excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the
enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied
by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group.
Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element
of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western
England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified
settlements during this period. All well-preserved examples are likely to be
identified as nationally important.

Despite slight damage by stock erosion, the earthwork enclosures and field
systems 430m north east of Lower Well Farm survive well, the banks and
ditches containing stratified remains relating to its construction and
use, and necessary for the future understanding of the monument.
Romano-British farmsteads are commonly square, single or double ditched
enclosures, usually only surviving as buried features visible as
cropmarks. Most examples belong to the first and second centuries AD. They
were constructed with low earthen or rubble ramparts, excavated from one
or two surrounding ditches, closely spaced. Despite slight damage from a
track which crosses the site, the banks and surrounding ditches will
contain stratified remains relating to the enclosure's construction and
use. Remains of the field system will provide additional information about
farming practices used here between the Iron Age and post-medieval

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Sainsbury, I, Stoke Gabriel, (1991)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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