Avon Valley to Plymouth, Devon: Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey

Author(s): Cain Hegarty, Stephanie Knight, Richard Sims

The area of South Devon between the coast and Dartmoor National Park is a landscape of high archaeological potential, demonstrated by the good if localised visibility of archaeological cropmarks and survival of nationally significant earthworks. It faces demands from agriculture, industry, forestry and increasing development pressures. This report summarises the results of an Aerial Investigation and Mapping (AI&M, formerly National Mapping Programme) survey for an area of 355sq km extending roughly from the Avon Valley in the east to Plymouth and the Tamar Valley in the west. It is the second, westernmost of three linked projects that would complete aerial survey between Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon Coast. The survey assessed aerial photographs supplied by the Historic England Archive and Devon County Council Historic Environment Record (DCC HER) dating from the 1930s to 2018, as well as imagery derived from Environment Agency and Tellus lidar data, to identify, interpret, transcribe and record almost 2500 archaeological sites and landscape features dating potentially from the Neolithic period to the 20th century. The project began in April 2019 and was completed in October 2020. The survey and report were completed under the disrupted and restricted conditions arising from the Coronavirus pandemic, which limited access to research material and has necessitated a more summary than usual report format. The most significant themes to emerge from the survey relate to prehistoric settlement, medieval to 19th century industry and military defence. These topics are the subject of period based thematic summaries. Survey information was recorded directly into the Devon and Dartmoor Historic Environment Records, increasing historic environment data by over 33 per cent. If only ‘relevant’ monument types are considered i.e. classes of monument potentially identifiable by the AI&M methodology, the increase in HER monument records over the pre-AI&M number is 90 per cent. By doing so, this enhanced resource was therefore immediately available to inform research, planning consultations and archaeological mitigation. A small number of monuments were also recorded in the Plymouth City Council administrative area. The survey transcriptions and summary monument records can be viewed on the Devon County Council Environment Viewer, from where more detailed monument records are accessible via Heritage Gateway. Further enquiries regarding the survey results can be directed to the relevant HER.

Report Number:
Research Report
Settlement Aerial Photograph Interpretation Tin Mine Aerial Photography National Mapping Programme Airfield Bombing Decoy Second World War Barrow Quarry Clay Pit Stone Circle


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