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Melcombe Horsey deserted village

A Scheduled Monument in Melcombe Horsey, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.8218 / 50°49'18"N

Longitude: -2.3584 / 2°21'30"W

OS Eastings: 374849.767554

OS Northings: 102535.481076

OS Grid: ST748025

Mapcode National: GBR 0Y8.JJH

Mapcode Global: FRA 56YX.P0L

Entry Name: Melcombe Horsey deserted village

Scheduled Date: 7 June 1971

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002401

English Heritage Legacy ID: DO 765

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Melcombe Horsey

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Melcombe Horsey St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


Deserted medieval village of Melcombe Horsey.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 February 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes a deserted medieval village situated in the wide valley of a tributary to the Devil’s Brook. The settlement survives as a series of rectangular cultivation plots defined by banks of up to 0.9m high and partially buried ditches laid out on either side of a hollow way with small rectangular building platforms defined by low banks standing up to 1m wide and 0.2m high to the south and west of the plots. There is also a circular mound measuring up to 9.1m in diameter and 1.2m high. One of the buildings is known to have been a chapel although its exact location was lost before the 18th century. Mentioned in Domesday the village was documented as declining by the 14th century and only nine houses remained by 1662.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time. Despite past quarrying activity and the construction of tracks the deserted medieval village of Melcombe Horsey survives well as earthworks and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, agricultural practices, trade, social and economic conditions, trade, decline, domestic arrangements, abandonment and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape 202070

Source: Historic England

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