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Big dig on Sidmouth hill before cliff erodes

11:30 15 September 2012

Higher Peak Hill archaeological dig. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 0672-36-12AW. To order your copy of this photograph, go to and click on myphotos24

Higher Peak Hill archaeological dig. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 0672-36-12AW. To order your copy of this photograph, go to and click on myphotos24


The Jurassic Coast was laid bare last week as an archaeological dig uncovered Sidmouth’s prehistory.

More than 120 people made the trek up High Peak to Saturday’s archaeological open day, held as part of the ‘Unlocking Our Coastal Heritage Project’.

‘Unlocking Our Coastal Heritage Project’.

As well as talks, members of the public could get hands-on with the excavation, in an attempt to foster a broader interest in archaeology.

In addition to the open day, the archaeologists held daily ‘show and tells’ to share their findings throughout the week.

Archaeological project officer, Simon Hughes, said: “It’s great working at such a prominent position in the landscape before it falls into the sea.”

Coastal erosion means the 7,000 years of history need to be understood before any more is lost, and the recent tree removal made the dig possible.

The dig team is searching for evidence of Neolithic settlement from around 5000BC, and later, post-Roman ‘Dark Age’ occupation of 5th to 6th century BC.

Artefacts previously found at the site are held at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, and evidence found during this dig may also end up there.

Exeter company, AC Archaeology, along with volunteers from the Devon Archaeological Society, conducted surveys of the land and a targeted excavation.

Their aim is to learn more about the area and share their findings with visitors, before writing a report for Devon County Council (DCC).

The team found some Neolithic tools and began excavating a Roman ditch.

There was another group of archaeologists further down the hill at Mutter’s Moor, looking for the site of an ancient stone circle.

The project was funded by English Heritage, East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, South West Coast Path National Trail and DCC Historic Environment Service to survey the area and preserve Devon’s heritage.


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