Ancient Monuments

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Deserted medieval village at Welcombe Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Swimbridge, Devon

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Latitude: 51.0638 / 51°3'49"N

Longitude: -3.9781 / 3°58'41"W

OS Eastings: 261485.517751

OS Northings: 131249.446097

OS Grid: SS614312

Mapcode National: GBR KV.F81H

Mapcode Global: FRA 26K9.N0N

Entry Name: Deserted medieval village at Welcombe Farm

Scheduled Date: 1 January 1900

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002656

English Heritage Legacy ID: DV 993

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Swimbridge

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Swimbridge St James the Apostle

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


Deserted medieval settlement 220m north of Welcombe.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 November 2015. 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 settlement situated on a steeply sloping south west facing hill overlooking the valley of a tributary to the River Taw. The settlement survives as a series of up to three small farmsteads, fields, hollow ways, quarry pits and springs. The buildings are preserved as largely buried features and are visible on aerial photographs and on the ground as a series of earthworks in the form rectangular platforms usually measuring up to 20m long by 10 – 15m wide and up to 1m high. A central hollow way connects the various groupings of buildings with subsidiary hollow ways running at right angles to it. The surrounding fields are defined by lynchets and low banks. Within the scheduled area is a single upstanding cob-built barn, which occupies one of the house platforms.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Deserted medieval settlements may be single abandoned farmsteads but the majority are small hamlets containing between two and six farmhouses. Documentary evidence indicates that most such settlements were established between the 11th and mid-14th centuries. Many of these were deserted by the close of the medieval period, possibly as a result of the Black Death or climatic changes, some where abandoned at a later period. Deserted medieval settlements are often visible as close groupings of small buildings, each containing a farm house, its ancillary buildings and one or more adjacent small plots which served as kitchen gardens or stock pens. These components are arranged within the settlement around internal yards and trackways which led from the settlement to its associated fields, pasture and water supply. Ancillary buildings were generally separated from the farmhouse itself. These additional structures served as barns, fuel or equipment stores and occasionally contained ovens and corn-drying kilns. While many settlements in Devon are known from documentary sources to be of medieval origin, well- preserved deserted sites are rare. Despite subsequent reduction of the walls through cultivation, the deserted medieval settlement 220m north of Welcombe survives comparatively well with building platforms achieving a reasonable height and clearly traceable hollow ways and lynchets. The house platforms, banks, structures and enclosed areas will all contain significant archaeological and environmental information concerning the construction, use, occupation, development, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements, abandonment and landscape context of the settlement.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument No:-34611

Source: Historic England

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