A master craftsman dry stone waller, Davin Foster, has joined forces with the National Trust and Natural England to restore 485m of ancient Bronze Age wall.
He has been working out at Decklers Cliff, near Gara Rock for the last 6 months with the goal of repairing 485m of historic wall. Thanks to a substantial £80,000 grant, this area of nationally important historical Bronze Age field system has now been restored.
Emma Reece, South Devon Area Ranger for the National Trust said: ‘This project has been a huge undertaking and Davin and his team have done a great job, it’s been amazing to see this part of history being restored. They have been out on this exposed location in all weathers and it’s great to see the project finished.’
Davin explained: ‘It’s been great working on the wall rebuilding despite the terrain and weather making it a bit of a challenge at times. There are so many walls and old boundaries falling into disrepair over the country so it’s great that some are being brought back for future generations. Myself and my small team have enjoyed the work and the stunning surroundings.’
‘Coaxial field systems’
Historic England on their website state ‘Coaxial field systems are one of several methods of land division employed during the Bronze Age; evidence from areas such as Dartmoor, where they are relatively common, suggest their introduction around 1700 BC and their continued use until 1000 BC. They generally consist of linear stones banks forming parallel boundaries running up slope to meet similar boundaries that run along the contours of higher slopes. The coaxial field systems between Deckler’s Cliff and Gammon Head are important survivals in an area where such systems have not previously been identified.’
As well as the Bronze Age wall historical element of this project, the National Trust has been working with tenant farmers to improve the condition of important maritime grassland which grows in the area. This has been done by using cattle and sheep to graze the coastal slopes helping to clear scrub, which can inhibit some grassland growth; and grazing is a vital part of the grasslands management. Early surveying of the site has shown significant increase in birds and butterflies such as the small pearl bordered fritillary and it’s hoped that over time the grasslands will become more diverse and rich in species.
If you would like to explore this area then why not follow the Mill Bay – Gara walk on the National Trust website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/east-portlemouth-to-prawle-point/trails/mill-bay-walk.
top image: Stonewallers putting topping stones in place, South Devon. Courtesy of Eric McDonald/National Trust Images.
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