Beer Head dig unlocks coastal heritage

Branscombe Project excited by Iron Age and Roman finds at South Down Common, Beer

A RECENT archaeological dig has been unlocking Beer Head’s coastal heritage.

As part of the Festival of British Archaeology, the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership and Devon County Council’s historic environment team, pulled together a ‘Time Team’ style event on high ground at South Down Common, Beer.

Excavations took place from July 19 to 24, with some “interesting and exciting results,” said Kimmo Evans of East Devon AONB.

Five trenches were excavated after initial surveys indicated the possible best sites. While four proved disappointing, the fifth produced evidence of an occupation layer, which indicates people having lived nearby and depositing material.

A fresh look at aerial photographs, geophysical and earthwork surveys are part of the investigations that will enhance the understanding of the archaeology and history of the area.

Archaeological digs are slow affairs, with continued cleaning of the trench surface of with a brush required so as not to lose or damage important finds.

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As these were uncovered they were carefully washed and recorded. This work was undertaken by experts from AC Archaeology, with support from staff at DCC’s historic environment team and the AONB team.

Members of the public visited the site during the dig to follow progress with special ‘show and tell’ sessions.

Sue Dymond, local enthusiast and member of the Branscombe Project, was excited by several interesting finds.

She said: “Finds included materials from the Iron Age to the 1400s. In addition to that the most interesting trench also produced local flint and iron pieces, as well as Roman Black Burnished Ware – a type of pottery.”

A second piece of pottery appeared to be part of a Roman tile, while a further piece was also identified as Roman because of the presence of the curve on the lip.

The most exciting find was a small piece of worn Roman Samian-style ware, which is thought to have been produced in this country.

“By unlocking this hidden heritage, we will be able to provide more information for all those who walk along the South West Coast Path and help tell the amazing stories of how settlements throughout history have played their role in shaping the special landscape we cherish so much today,” said Pete Youngman of East Devon AONB.

* Find out more about the �2.1 million, Rural Development Programme for England funded Unlocking Our Coastal Heritage project at: