Discovering Dunkeswell Abbey

 In Heritage & history, National Landscape updates, Volunteering

Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership has teamed up with Heritage, Arts and People to help bring Dunkeswell Abbey, Blackdown Hills’ hidden gem, into the limelight. The aim is to increase understanding and awareness of this nationally-significant abbey complex.

The project will receive £9,700 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, made possible by money raised by National Lottery players.

Dunkeswell Abbey, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, is on Historic England’s Heritage ‘At Risk’ Register and is an important part of the Blackdown Hills historic landscape. However, few people are aware of the significance of this substantial monastic complex, since there is currently no signage or interpretation information at the site and only fragments of the 13th century Cistercian abbey survives above ground. There are also many questions left unanswered about the extent and significance of Dunkeswell Abbey, which the community archaeology programme will help to solve.

Heritage, Arts and People is an Exeter-based Community Interest Company which focuses on enabling people of all ages to explore and enjoy their local heritage, bringing new, fulfilling and enriching experiences to participants and volunteers. Catherine Farnell of Heritage, Arts and People will be coordinating the Discovering Dunkeswell Abbey project.

We are looking forward to working with the local community to record and better interpret Dunkeswell Abbey within its surroundings and to celebrate the rich historic and cultural interest of Dunkeswell Abbey.

The project will provide opportunities for volunteers to get involved in surveying the remains of the abbey, river walking to look for pottery and learning about the fascinating heritage of the site. The results will be shared via ‘Dunkeswell Abbey on Tour’, a series of interactive workshops and events taking the project into schools and the community. A newly-commissioned interpretation drawing of the abbey which will be installed at the site, alongside information informed by the community archaeology programme.

The project also has the support of Devon County Council and Historic England, who are assisting with expertise and specialist support. Other work to repair and consolidate the site is also underway funded by Historic England grants.

If you would like to volunteer, please email to register your interest.

Dunkeswell Abbey ruins

Dunkeswell Abbey. Photo: Heritage Arts People

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