Professor Stephen Rippon
In May the Local History Group was delighted to welcome back Professor Stephen Rippon. In front of a packed audience Professor Rippon provided an update on the current state of play regarding the Ipplepen Archaeological Dig. The dig which ended in 2020 received national coverage and some of the findings seem set to permanently alter our perception of the Roman occupation of the southwest. Many of us in the audience had followed the course of what became an annual dig from 2012 to 2020 participating in the actual excavation or cleaning and cataloguing the findings in the Hub or simply attending the Open days.
The excavation of the site showed that it had been permanently occupied from Neolithic times running through to the early medieval period. This is effectively a time span of 1500 years. It seems that the site occupied a position of strategic significance. Like Denbury Hill fort it has a prominent location lying on a watershed between two major rivers – the Teign and the Dart. By the Iron Age period of settlement (c. 400BC to AD55) it lay on a strategic trackway from Exeter to Totnes and further west. In this period the settlers built their characteristic roundhouses often building on the same site repeatedly. During the Roman period of occupation, (c. AD55 to AD350) this trackway was upgraded to a solid road which was resurfaced at least four times and the settlement grew to a village complete with a blacksmith, granaries, butcheries and even some sort of shrine.
The villagers continued to occupy the site even after the Romans left and did not relocate to our more sheltered location until the eighth century AD. Graves have been discovered from the Roman period right through to the sixth/seventh century AD and there may well be more to be found but bone does not survive well in the acid soil locally. At its peak there may have been a population of a hundred or more benefiting from its position on a road used regularly by merchants and tradespeople. Despite this exposure to other cultures, it seems the local people remained farmers.
Professor Rippon is set to produce a book bringing all these findings together and we will be following the progress of this research and looking forward to its publication in a few years’ time.
The Platinum Jubilee
The Local History Group has produced a display commemorating the village response to all the Coronations and Jubilees from 1910 to 2022 and, in addition, all the Beating the Bounds events over the same period. The display will be set up in the Village Hall over the period of the Jubilee celebrations and contains some great photographs from our archive.