Ventiford Basin dig on the Stover Canal, Teignbridge, Devon

After many months of planning by the Stover Canal Trust and local independent archaeologist, Phil Newman, work started on saturday 10th May 2014 and will be completed within a week. Several areas have been identified of interest and details will be forthcoming in the near future.
A team of over twenty volunteers started on saturday (including several members of TimeTeign) in favourable weather. After the second days work, the site was starting to show good results for the team to be satisfied with their progress to date.

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Surprise findings revealed by archaeological digs, plus Archaeological celebrations in Devon

Surprise findings revealed by archaeological digs
Friday, April 08, 2011

A NUMBER of archaeological digs have recently been completed in the city, throwing up a few surprises.
Dissenters’ Graveyard:
An assessment and survey has been produced by AC Archaeology on behalf of the owner, to inform discussions concerning the future of the site.
The study identified documentary evidence for just over 1,300 burials on the site between its opening in 1748 and the last documented interment in 1854, and 83 visible grave markers.
13 Lyndhurst Road, St Leonards:
Archaeological investigations have been undertaken where a house and extensive grounds are being redeveloped for housing revealed a couple of isolated pits of probable medieval date and some undated plot boundary ditches. No known medieval settlement sites lie in the immediate vicinity, and from the form of the field system shown on 19th century mapping the site lies within an area of former medieval open field.
137 Cowick Street, St Thomas:
Some targeted excavation undertaken immediately prior to the development of this site for a commercial sheltered housing scheme has revealed 18th century features, including ditches, pits and postholes, but no firm structural evidence, and no evidence of earlier occupation, despite the location of the site opposite the late medieval parish church.
Finds included a significant closely dated group of 18th century ceramics, including a rare pipe clay figurine in the shape of a mermaid.

Archaeological celebrations in Devon
Saturday, July 16, 2011

FROM tomorrow Devon is set to start celebrating all things archaeological. Thanks to the arrival of the Festival for British Archaeology in the county there will be two weeks of heritage events aimed at bringing the past to life. Activities lined up include bronze casting, making pots, grinding corn and learning the techniques involved in wattle and daub.
All will be featured at Stover Country Park on Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Entry is free other than car parking which is £2 all day.
Another highlight of the fortnight is the South West Coast Path Unlocking Our Coastal Heritage Project which runs from next Tuesday until Sunday, July 24. This is a Time Team-style event up on Beer Head where archaeologists will be exploring the remains of a pre-historic field system and possible Romano-British farmstead. Anyone with an interest in archaeology will be able to talk to the archaeologists at 3pm each afternoon when they will break away from their labours to explain how the dig is progressing and what they have discovered so far. On the Saturday, at 11.30am, there will be a Show and Tell session with Tanya James from AC Archaeology who will be part of the team carrying out the excavation.

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Dartmoor burial site surrenders its Bronze Age secrets.

NEWS: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Relics discovered at a recent Dartmoor archaeological dig have this week been described as among the most important prehistoric finds to be unearthed anywhere in Britain in the past 100 years. The excavation, which was reported exclusively in a local newspaper in August, has revealed numerous 4,000-year-old artefacts, including cremated human bone. Scientists working at a special laboratory in Wiltshire have been sifting through items found in the ancient stone cist in an exercise known as a “micro-excavation” – and now say that the combination and variety of relics could give a unique glimpse into what life was like in South West England some 40 centuries ago. Cists are stone-built chests which were used for the burial of cremations or inhumations, and are found in some highland parts of the West Country and elsewhere – but rarely with their original contents remaining in any kind of state, let alone vaguely intact. Jane Marchand, senior archaeologist for Dartmoor National Park Authority and project manager of the Whitehorse Hill dig, told the WMN: “This is a most unusual and fascinating glimpse into what an 

early Bronze Age ‘grave goods assemblage’ on Dartmoor might have looked like when it was buried, including the personal possessions of people living on the moor around 4,000 years ago. The find is unusual because of how well preserved the items are and the many types of organic material – all of which means we get huge amounts of information.” Mrs Marchand said that archaeologists had found two bag-like objects – one made of leather and one created from a woven material. “It was immediately evident that micro-excavation in controlled conditions was essential as, once exposed, the organic remains were very vulnerable.” 

The entire deposit, including the granite base stone, has now been sent off for further testing. Mrs Marchand said she and her team were hugely excited by the information that could eventually be revealed. “For example,” she said, “we can find out what animal leather they were using – we have various specialists coming down to look at the skin and fur who should be able to identify the animals. At the moment we just don’t know if they belong to wild or domesticated animals. They could be cattle, deer, wolf or even aurochs.”

Archaeologists are also excited by the number of beads found in the burial cist: “Their presence could mean it was a high status burial that you’d normally only see in Wessex or Orkney,” said Mrs Marchand. “There were a number of amber beads which probably came from the Baltic – and that must have meant they were doing long-distance trading 4,000 years ago.”

Archaeologists unearthed the relics three days into the August dig which had been staged because the entire cist, located nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, was in danger of collapsing due to peat erosion. The cist was excavated on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall by archaeologists from Cornwall Council’s historic environment projects team, with assistance from English Heritage and Plymouth University specialists. A programme of analysis will now follow, to examine the peat surrounding the cist. Studies of pollen, other plant remains and radio carbon dating will provide evidence of vegetation and climate at the time of the burial. The Dartmoor National Park Authority plans to rebuild the cist and reinstate it in exactly the place where it was found.

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Roman pottery found at dig site near Plymouth

NEWS: February 13, 2012

A COMMUNITY dig which took place at the end of last year has revealed remains of ancient Roman pottery, and evidence that people were living in the Tamar Valley 3,000 years ago. During a talk at the Tamar Valley Centre, Dr Chris Smart from the University of Exeter shared the findings of the latest archaeological dig which took place on Church Hill in Calstock last October. His findings revealed that the two weeks of excavation had provided significant insights into the longevity of human activity in the area, which can now be projected further back in time than previously thought.

The team of local residents involved with the dig managed to uncover a defensive ditch, thought to have been dug by the Roman army, as well as a large selection of Roman, Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age pottery. They also found evidence of metal working activity having taken place in post-medieval times and an undiscovered hedgebank.
Dorothy Kirk, a local resident who took part in the dig, said: “The dig was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. It was great to be brought up to speed on some of the outcomes and to be reunited with members of my team at the talk.”

Talking at the Tamar Valley Area of Natural Beauty’s Annual Conference, Dr Chris Smart said: “I believe that everyone left the excavation with a new perception about the value of archaeology, and of how it is carried out.” Dr Smart will be giving a repeat talk about the dig, part of the Calstock Parish Heritage Project, on April 12 at the Tamar Valley Centre.
For information call 01822 835030 or email

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Dig to reveal Roman town

NEWS: Saturday, June 23, 2012

Excavations to uncover what is believed to be a major Roman town in the region are set to take place this summer.

The major archaeological dig is planned for rural Teignbridge, on the outskirts of Newton Abbot, South Devon, after a chance find of ancient coins by a metal detector enthusiast and his friend led to the discovery of the largest Roman settlement ever found in the county.

The excavation in August will be led by University of Exeter archaeologists. There have been long-held suspicions that the Romans had established a presence in South Devon, and place names suggest the A381 between Totnes and Newton Abbot may have been a Roman road.

A county council spokesman said: “We believe this newly-discovered Romano-British rural settlement has the potential to reveal significant evidence of this period of Devon’s ancient history.”


Digging for the Deep World of Devon’s Roman Ruins

April 4, 2012 By Matt Filed Under: Fieldwork

Organisation: Earthwatch
Address: Mayfield House, 256 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 7DE
Telephone: 01865 318831

Location: Exeter St Davids
Dates: July-August
Cost: £1,795 per fortnight
Accommodation: Included


This excavation will investigate the largest Romano-British settlement discovered in the county to date. Detected structures hint at native roundhouses, enclosures, a Roman road, and other promising structures.

Participants can take part in excavating and recording finds, assisting in making section drawings and plans, and taking accurate photographic records and detailed field notes. They will also assist with post-excavation analysis. Participation costs include meals and accommodation.


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Romano-British settlements was unearthed in South Devon

LOCAL NEWS: Friday, 24 August 2012

History books may have to be rewritten after one of the region’s largest Romano-British settlements was unearthed during an excavation near Ipplepen.

The remains help make the location – close to the A381 Totnes Road, which has also yielded material confirming earlier Bronze and Iron Age habitation – among the country’s most important sources of new historical data.

The dig, funded by the University of Exeter, The Portable Antiquities Scheme, Earthwatch Institute, the British Museum and Devon County Council, began earlier this month and was due to be completed today. 

Further work on examining the finds are being undertaken by Ms Danielle Wootton, Finds Officer, with the Portable Antiquities Service, based at the University of Exeter, Devon.

Further news on the developments from this site will be published in the Devon Archaeological Society, proceedings next year, published and presented in 2013.

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Dig under way to uncover Roman town

Date: August 09, 2012.  

A major archaeological dig is under way to uncover a major Roman town in Teignbridge. Excavations have started to uncover what could be the largest Roman settlement ever found in Devon. The dig has previously been described as one of the most significant of its kind and may rewrite the history books on Roman occupation in Britain.

The month-long work is being led by Danielle Wootton, the finds liaison officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme and archaeologist at the University of Exeter, and the university’s Roman archaeology specialist Dr Ioana Oltean.

It is funded by the university, Devon County Council and environment charity Earthwatch. It was always thought Roman influence never made it further than Exeter and there was little evidence of Romans in the South West Peninsula of Britain. But there have been long-held suspicions that the Romans had established a presence in South Devon with place names suggesting the A381 between Totnes and Newton Abbot may have been a Roman road. Roman coins have also been found across the district and in Torbay. The intrigue started in 2007 when metal detectorist Philip Wills, of Torquay, found a Roman coin in fields on the outskirts of Newton Abbot. In subsequent days he and fellow enthusiast Dennis Hewings, of Paignton, found more evidence of Romano-British activity.

Details were passed to Miss Daniella Wootton, Finds Officer, who investigated further.

Geophysical surveys later uncovered evidence of trade with Europe, a road possibly linking to the major settlement at Exeter, burial sites and more coins on an area covering at least 13 fields. A Devon County Council spokesman said: “A start has been made on the excavation and features are already starting to appear, mirroring the geophysical survey which Devon County Council commissioned at the site. “We’re hopeful this will prove to be a fairly substantial Romano-British settlement and a number of open days are expected to be held to keep the local community up to date with how the dig is progressing.” Although there are a lot of known archaeological sites associated with the Roman conquest of Devon and subsequent civil rule, there have been relatively few extensive, modern excavations of military or civil sites outside Exeter.


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