At our recent Thursday meeting, Mr Stephen Reed, an archaeologist from Devon County Council, presented a very informative and interesting talk on archaeological activity around Devon including the find of post-mediaeval pottery at the Churchill building site. The first site at Castledene on the Culmstock Road uncovered 12th to 14th century wall foundations and a buried medieval land surface.
The Blackdown Hills are known as an important location of iron smelting from Roman times through mediaeval times. Many people have found the results of the iron smelting including lumps of slag and some evidence of furnaces. Stephen gave details of how the smelting was achieved and the designs of the furnaces and the methods of smithing. The availability of the Iron Ore and Charcoal in the area plus volumes of water made it an ideal location.
It would appear that Hemyock has throughout history been involved in industrial type activities with factories producing goods in large quantities.
Such a site was found recently at the Churchill building site where the quantity of pottery remains indicate that the factory was producing large numbers of pottery items in the early- 16th century and another pottery site has been exposed at the Hemyock Motors site by recent archaeological investigations that dates to the early 17th century - 100yrs after the Churchills Farm pottery.
This industrial activity may have resulted in the various fires that destroyed cottages that have been recorded over the years from the 16th century.
It was as a result of one of these sites where 2 cottages were burned down that the land was acquired on which the Church Rooms was subsequently built in 1896.
Stephen also covered other sites around Devon including on the South Devon coast where vessels from the Mediterranean would pull up onto the sandy beaches to trade in quality amphorae for local minerals such as copper, gold and tin. The famous Saxon shoe was also found at Burlescombe, Devon.
Around 40 people were entertained throughout a fascinating evening. Various exhibits of the pottery found were on display.