Land management

The Historic Environment Team provides information and advice on the protection and enhancement of archaeological and historic features to organisations that administer land-based grant schemes under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), such as Natural England and the Forestry Commission, and to Local Planning Authorities to inform decisions on Hedgerow Removal applications.

A colour aerial photograph showing the various strips of unenclosed fields in the surviving medieval open field system known as Braunton Great FieldDevon’s beautiful and varied landscape has been shaped by many centuries of farming and land management. This landscape itself is therefore a fundamental part of Devon’s historic environment. Today’s intricate pattern of fields, lanes, woodland, farmsteads and parishes was largely in place by the medieval period. However, it also preserves strong influences from earlier ages, as well as being shaped by more recent industrial and agricultural activity.

A black and white aerial photograph of the farmed landscape of Stockland reflects several phases of enclosure: prehistoric enclosures such as Stockland Little Castle (circular field centre right); irregular small medieval fields in the foreground; and distinctive large rectangular fields of nineteenth-century date on Stockland Hill.Intake and improvement of land for farming has occurred gradually throughout human history. Some field boundaries were created in prehistoric times, whilst many curving hedgebanks in Devon are medieval in origin. Large, regular and straight-sided fields generally indicate more recent enclosure.

A colour photograph of a traditional farm building with a cat sitting in the hayloft opening Traditional farmhouses and farm buildings are an essential part of the countryside and contribute greatly to its character. They can be important historically and architecturally, providing valuable information about how people lived and farmed. Some building types, such as linhays, are unique to the South West.

A colour aerial photograph of prehistoric field boundaries, preserved as low banks under rough pasture at Deckler’s Cliff, South Hams.Much of Devon’s rich archaeological heritage lies within modern farmland. Monuments of all types and time periods are represented, from prehistoric settlements to medieval castles and Second World War defences. Landowners and managers take care of many archaeological and historic monuments and sites, but don’t always know about all of the archaeology on their land.

Key Contact: Cressida Whitton 01392 383464;