Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey for South-West England: North Coast of Devon (excluding Exmoor) and North Coast of Cornwall Phase One Desk-Based Assessment

Author(s): Fraser Sturt, Michael Grant, Kieran Westley

The national programme of Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Surveys (RCZAS), funded by Historic England, is designed to enhance and update coastal Historic Environment Records (HERs) through a two-phased approach. Phase 1 (Desk-based Assessment) assesses the data available on the character of the historic environment within the project area, and potential threats to heritage assets, in order to design a strategy for Phase 2 (Field Survey) which prioritises areas where heritage assets may be most at risk. This report describes the results of the Phase 1 component of the RCZAS for the North Coasts of Cornwall and Devon (excluding Exmoor) carried out in 2017 and 2018 by COARS, Southampton University. The aims of the project were to: • enhance the Cornwall and Devon HERs and the National Record of the Historic Environment; • inform future coastal and shoreline management; • provide an overview of coastal change from the Palaeolithic onwards; • assess the degree and nature of threat to coastal historic assets; • provide a broad assessment of the likely archaeological potential and vulnerability of the resource; • identify future research priorities; and • enhance public understanding and enjoyment of the coastal heritage. The study area extended from Combe Martin in Devon to Land’s End in Cornwall. It included an assessment of surviving remains along the open coast and its tidal estuaries, extending up to 1km inland from Mean High Water (MHW), with 2km inland along the Taw-Torridge, Camel and Hayle estuaries. Offshore the boundary extended up to 25 km from MHW, utilising available bathymetry data from the Marine and Coastguard Agency Civil Hydrography Programme (MCA CHP). Overall, the project added, updated or amended 7757 records, with 1610 new sites created for Cornwall and 1249 for Devon. An extensive review of the wreck record within the intertidal and offshore demonstrated the existence of notable discrepancies between the different datasets, reinforcing the need to utilise multiple sources when analysing the offshore record. An extensive review of the Quaternary deposits along the coastline has demonstrated a number of areas where future research should take place, notably through resolving questions relating to Quaternary glaciation, the age of Pleistocene raised beaches, and the distribution and age of submerged forests and blown sand deposits.

Report Number:
Desk Top Assessment Marine Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey


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