Friday 2nd August saw a group of volunteers from the DPA arrive at Shapley Common, to be joined by a large group of Devon County Council apprentices.
The tasks for the day were firstly a brief introduction to the archaeology, starting at this location, “Farmstead A”, this being one of three in the area.
The next step was to move to Farmstead B, back across the Challacombe Cross – Hamel Down road where the delights of “bracken bashing” awaited. Both bamboos and slashers were used, to either break, bruise or cut the bracken stems.
I am not sure how many people were present but there were cetainly many hands making light of the work. There must have been about thirty of us.
This farmstead settlement, known as Farmstead B, has a row of five huts forming one side of the enclosure. The largest hut (5.7 m) lies opposite them and has massively large stones forming part of its construction. There are also a small number of walls near the enclosure.
After cutting a large area of bracken, we were then set to cut gorse and bramble scrub from the walls that extended outwards from the area of hut circles. I have to say that my team of four apprentices turned out to be The A Team! We made excellent progress, mainly with loppers, know-how and, occasionally, a little strength.
The main source of information for this site is Jeremy Butler (1991), Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, 23.2 Cullacombe Head farmsteads, pages 160-162.
The apprentices’ manager visited us and believe it or not, he was accompanied by a large bag of doughnuts which were very welcome. Our thanks to all the apprentices from the DPA volunteers, you did well.