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South West Archaeology Ltd. (SWARCH) carried out a desk-based assessment, geophysical survey, archaeological evaluation and visual impact assessment at Bishops Farm, Cookbury, Devon, in advance of the construction of a single small wind turbine.
The site lies to the west of Stapledon Farm within an area of enclosed land on the edge of the former Walland Moor. This formed part of a medieval or early post-medieval tenement of Walland. The 1st and 2nd edition Ordnance Survey maps show this as the site of a manor house, but as the field is recorded on a 1799 estate map as ‘town place’, it is more likely it represents the site of the ‘decayed tenement’ mentioned in a lease of 1654. The geophysical survey identified traces of an earlier fieldsystem, and an enclosure that corresponds with the ‘town place’. It seems likely the enclosure represents an earlier monument – perhaps a Prehistoric or Romano-British enclosure– re-occupied in the medieval period. In addition, the remains of two probable Bronze Age barrows were also identified.
The evaluation trenching validated the accuracy of the geophysics results and identified two linear features and an irregular sub-ovoid pit/posthole. One ditch produced Romano-British pottery that would coincide with the interpretation of the geophysics results, while the others morphology was indicative of a Romano-British ditch, with uniformly straight sides and a flat base. The sub-ovoid pit was likely a natural disturbance or an extremely damaged posthole. Modern- and plough disturbance was also evident but no other features occurred in the area subject to evaluation.
In terms of the wider landscape, there are relatively few Listed structures or Scheduled Monuments in the immediate vicinity. The turbine would have a pronounced impact on the Grade II buildings in the hamlet of Upcott, and the Grade II Church of St Petrock in Hollacombe. Its overall impact on the historic landscape is assessed as negative/minor to negative/moderate.