THE Time and Tide conference, which was organised to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and North Devon Archaeological Society, has been pronounced a resounding success.  Held in the Landmark The

THE Time and Tide conference, which was organised to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and North Devon Archaeological Society, has been pronounced a resounding success.

Held in the Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe, the conference was opened by the North Devon AONB Manager, Linda Blanchard who said: "The combination of academic excellence and great enthusiasm from the speakers enthralled the audience of 150 people who packed the Pavilion Room."

Devon County Council archaeologist, Frances Griffith set the scene with stunning photographs from her flights across North Devon, which showed a sample of the wealth of ancient monuments in the area. The audience found it particularly helpful to see and understand how they worked within the local landscape. Before standing down Frances set a challenge for North Devonians to find proof of a Roman Fort in or near Barnstaple.

Next was a presentation about mud, or more accurately coastal change in the Severn Estuary over the last 10,000 years, by Vanessa Straker from English Heritage.

Two speakers from Exeter University gave fascinating insights into the life of local communities. Firstly Nicholas Orme presented an excellent overview of churches in North Devon and demonstrated how much poorer the landscape and spiritual life would have been without these magnificent buildings.

He was followed by Peter Claughton who spoke about just how busy and industrial the North Devon coast was until relatively recently. Sea travel and contact with North Wales were especially important to the mining industry in Combe Martin.

Military historian Richard Bass brought to life the former military training ground around Braunton Burrows and the sandy beaches near the Taw Torridge Estuary, which were crucial to the Normandy landings of 1944. The areas are now a haven for wildlife and surfers.

Rose Day, Chairman of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership brought the day to a close and thanked the speakers and volunteers who had worked hard to put the conference together.

Time and Tide was one of a series of events highlighting the different aspects of life, culture, history and wildlife within the AONB during its golden anniversary year. Designed to appeal to novice and professional archaeologists, as well as those with an interest in finding out more about the history and archaeology of North Devon, it was open to both society members and the general public. For information about the North Devon Coast AONB visit www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk and for the North Devon Archaeological Society www.ndas.org.uk.