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Medieval settlement of Beere

A Scheduled Monument in North Tawton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8128 / 50°48'46"N

Longitude: -3.8634 / 3°51'48"W

OS Eastings: 268814.650467

OS Northings: 103131.927233

OS Grid: SS688031

Mapcode National: GBR L0.Y12T

Mapcode Global: FRA 26SY.JNV

Entry Name: Medieval settlement of Beere

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1961

Last Amended: 7 August 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016216

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30320

County: Devon

Civil Parish: North Tawton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: North Tawton St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes the remains of a medieval settlement known as Beere
lying to the north of North Tawton. The site is situated at the base of a
valley, on the northern bank of a tributary to the River Yeo in an area
covered with woodland and known as Stoneland Copse. At the eastern end of
Stoneland Copse, above the course of the stream is a terraced bank which runs
from east to west parallel to the stream, and which joins a field boundary
running upslope to the eastern end of the site. This bank measures up to 1.7m
wide and 2.1m high on the stream side and 0.6m high on the north or settlement
side. To the north of this field boundary is a hollow way which measures 1.3m
wide, 0.1m deep and runs parallel to the field boundary along the base of the
Further north is a terraced platform which measures 6.1m wide and 0.4m high;
it runs from east to west throughout the length of the copse. To the north of
this terraced platform and at its eastern end there are a series of
significant banks which indicate several tumbled walls. One feature is a
part hut, barn or house, the southernmost wall of which curves out from the
eastern field boundary in a westerly direction. This bank measures 3.8m wide
and 0.8m to 1.2m high. It serves to define an inner area which measures 18m
long by 14.4m wide. To the north, the building may be buried by naturally
slumped material from a steep scarp which measures between 3m and 4m high. On
the top of this scarp is a ditched field boundary which measures 0.6m wide and
0.4m high and appears to be an old boundary.
Within the building at its western side there is evidence for a secondary
structure which measures 6.6m long by 5.6m wide internally and is enclosed by
banks which measure 1.4m wide and 0.5m high. There are two possible coarsed
stone built drying ovens or hearths each of which measure 2.1m long, 1m wide
and 0.3m deep.
Central to the site is a massively built rectangular structure composed of
stony banks and set into the platform which runs across the site. The
structure measures 5.3m long from north to south and 3.9m wide from east to
west. The banks measure up to 0.4m high internally and up to 1m high
externally. To the north a hollow way runs from east to west parallel to the
northern boundary, although the scarp on which this is sitting reduces in
height towards the west. The hollow way measures 3.4m wide and up to 0.2m deep
and runs from the building at the eastern end of the site to a quarry at the
western end. This quarry is subrectangular in shape and measures 11.7m long
and 8.4m wide overall. It is enclosed by banks and to the south these measure
up to 2.8m wide and 1.2m high. To the north there is some coarsed walling
which measures up to 0.7m wide and 0.5m high. In the western end of the
feature there is a deeper pit which measures 4.4m long, 3.5m wide and up to
1.3m deep. This may be the quarry from which stone to construct the buildings
was derived. At the western end of the site the ground surface appears
levelled and may indicate an area used for horticultural purposes in the past.
On the western side the monument is also defined by a ditched field boundary.
The site was partly excavated in 1938.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the extensive south-west Peninsula sub-Province of the
Northern and Western Province, an area climatically, culturally and physically
distinct from the rest of England. It includes varying terrains, from the
granite uplands, through rolling dissected plateaux to fertile clay lowlands
in the east. While nucleated settlements are present, notably in the Devon
Lowlands and throughout the South Hams, many originated as small towns, and a
high proportion may be of later date. Excluding only the moorland masses, the
sub-Province is characterised by medium and high densities of dispersed
settlements; indeed, some of the former industrial areas had densities as high
as any in the country.

The Taw and Torridge local region of north Devon includes two drainage basins.
Agriculturally, it has been described as `indifferent' land, apt to be wet,
but it is surrounded by regions with higher proportions of heathland, moorland
and rough pasture, so that it is distinguishable on the basis of higher
(medium to high) densities of dispersed farmsteads.
Nucleations are present, often appearing as small market towns. The sites of
a few deserted medieval hamlets have been recorded.
Despite part excavation and extensive reuse of this area during the post
medieval period, the remains of the medieval settlement at Beere survive
comparatively well and contain archaeological and environmental information.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Jope, E M, Threlfall, R I, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Excavation Of A Medieval Settlement At Beere, North Tawton,Devon, , Vol. 2, (1958), 112-40

Source: Historic England

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