A Medieval Building and its Contents at Island Farm, Ottery St Mary, East Devon: excavations in 2014Open Data

Andrew Mudd, Sarah Cobain and Charlotte Haines

Cotswold Archaeology, Building 11, Kemble Enterprise Park, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6BQ. UK. Email:

Cite this as: Mudd, A., Cobain, S. and Haines, C. 2018 A Medieval Building and its Contents at Island Farm, Ottery St Mary, East Devon: excavations in 2014, Internet Archaeology 47.


Ottery St Mary - Area 2 Building mid-excavation working shot

Excavations in advance of housing development on land at Island Farm, Ottery St Mary, Devon, examined archaeological remains that included what is interpreted as a medieval longhouse (c. AD 1250–1350) that had been destroyed by fire. The evidence included the charred remains of timbers and deposits of charcoal and other botanical remains. The identifications and spatial arrangements of this material are used to suggest the materials employed in the construction of the building, together with its contents, which included a variety of crops stored in the chamber. Other finds include fragments derived from the repair of copper-alloy vessels, an axe-head, and a Bronze Age palstave.

Analysis has provided unusual detail of the types of wood used in the construction of the building, principally oak for the timber framing and alder and willow for the wattle panelling, and of the composition of the stored harvest, which included oats, wheat, rye, barley, broad beans, peas and vetches.

The longhouse has similarities with others known from Devon, although the interpretation of partial timber-framing appears to be unique in the archaeological record from the county. The crops identified provide physical evidence of what is recorded in historical documents, but also suggest others, such as the composition of fodder. This report includes primary data on the botanical remains to allow readers to interrogate the information for further (and perhaps different) insights.

The fieldwork was undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology in 2014 on behalf of Waddeton Park Ltd in advance of the construction of new housing by Bovis Homes. A full assessment report on the medieval and other findings was produced in 2016 and is available on Cotswold Archaeology's website.

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