High Peak’s secrets revealed

Replica stone axe head held by Tom Cadbury (Royal Albert Memorial Museum) at High Peak

Replica stone axe head held by Tom Cadbury (Royal Albert Memorial Museum) at High Peak - Credit: Archant

UNEARTHED new artefacts are helping piece together a jigsaw of knowledge about the history of High Peak.

Volunteers at the High Peak archaeological dig

Volunteers at the High Peak archaeological dig - Credit: Archant

The lofty spot, between Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton, was the subject of an archaeological investigation to discover how the enigmatic site has been used over the past centuries.

Findings of the summer dig, funded by the South West Coast Path Unlocking Coastal Heritage project, have been incorporated into two new interpretation panels.

They tell the story of the site and how it was first occupied in the stone-age, between 6,000 and 4,000 years ago.

The remains of stone axes dating to this period were found.

The site was then next used in the period when the Romans left the country around 1,500 years ago.

Evidence of occupation at this time includes the remains of large earthenware bottles that contained wine and olive oil which had been brought to the area by boat from eastern Mediterranean countries.

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No evidence has been found that the site was used at all during the Iron Age.

One of the panels, located on the site, features a reconstruction drawing of what life might have looked like during the Stone Age with the men making stone tools and the women making the distinctive pots of the era.

The second board, located on Peak Hill looking towards High Peak, features early paintings of the site made by Peter Orlando Hutchinson the Victorian antiquarian who lived much of his life in Sidmouth.

These water colours show us how much the landscape has changed in the intervening 150 years since they were painted.

“Why not take a stroll from Peak Hill, it’s a great excuse to walk off those festive excesses whilst learning about our rich heritage” said Pete Youngman, East Devon AONB project officer.

The whole project has been a joint effort between Clinton Devon Estates, Devon County Council’s historic environment team, the South West Coast Path Team and the East Devon AONB Partnership.