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Medieval settlement of Little Piddle

A Scheduled Monument in Piddlehinton, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.7681 / 50°46'5"N

Longitude: -2.3998 / 2°23'59"W

OS Eastings: 371904.552131

OS Northings: 96575.082647

OS Grid: SY719965

Mapcode National: GBR 0YT.L49

Mapcode Global: FRA 57V1.YQN

Entry Name: Medieval settlement of Little Piddle

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019410

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33184

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Piddlehinton

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Piddlehinton St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes the site of the deserted medieval settlement of Little
Piddle, situated on the northern terrace of the River Piddle.
The site represents one of several medieval settlements in the Piddle valley
which are mentioned in the Domesday Survey. Little Piddle was divided into two
manors: the northern example known as Coombe Deveral lay in Piddlehinton,
while the southern example was in Puddletown. The two manors remained as
distinct land units with separate open-field systems in different parishes
until 1885.
The settlement, which was surveyed by the Royal Commission on the Historical
Monuments of England in 1970, survives as a series of earthworks which extend
over an area of about 8ha. The main settlement occupies an elevated river
terrace aligned north west by south east. This includes eight artificial
platforms or terraces, which range from 25m to 75m in width and between 30m
and 110m in length and which are aligned north east by south west. These are
likely to represent `closes' or individual property plots. The closes are
associated with several hollow ways, or tracks, which run across the centre of
the group. The hollow ways vary in size from 1.5m to 3m in width and about
0.5m to 0.75m in depth and are variously aligned north east by south west
(running towards the river) and north west by south east (running along the
valley). The character of any former settlement remains to the south of the
river is now difficult to interpret, as this area is partially occupied by a
farm and the surrounding land has been ploughed since the original survey in
1970, reducing many of the previously recorded earthworks in this area. The
fragmentary earthwork remains in this area include several truncated and now
isolated stretches of hollow ways, but these are of uncertain date and are not
included in the scheduling.
A series of low earthworks on the floodplain of the river represent water
meadows. These are characterised by a series of gullies aligned along the
river valley which are served by a series of drainage channels. The water
meadows are of an uncertain date, but are likely to post-date the medieval
settlement and to the north of the river these could overlie earlier medieval
features. The area of water meadows which occupies the archaeologically
sensitive area between the river and the settlement remains is included in
the scheduling.
Historical documentation records seven taxpayers in 1333, two men in 1539 and
two households in 1662, possibly indicating a gradual decline in population.
All gates and fence posts of modern field boundaries are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 last 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the West Wessex sub-Province of the Central Province, an
area characterised by large numbers of villages and hamlets within
countrysides of great local diversity, ranging from flat marshland to hill
ridges. Settlements range from large, sprawling villages to tiny hamlets, a
range extended by large numbers of scattered dwellings in the extreme east and
west of the sub-Province. Cultivation in open townfields was once present, but
early enclosure was commonplace. The physical diversity of the landscape was,
by the time of Domesday Book in 1086, linked with great variations in the
balance of cleared land and woodland.
The South Dorset local region is a diverse countryside comprising the South
Dorset Downs and narrow limestone ridges and clay vales which curve around the
chalk escarpments. Settlement is characterised by low concentrations of
scattered farmsteads, and small villages and hamlets: ancient settlements
whose arable fields were, on the evidence of Domesday Book, set among
substantial tracts of pasture and woodland in the 11th century.

The medieval settlement of Little Piddle survives well as a series of well-
preserved earthworks and associated buried remains and will contain
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the
associated landscape. The settlement remains are further complimented by the
presence of well-preserved water meadows within the adjacent area of the
valley bottom.
Little Piddle forms one of several medieval settlement sites within the Piddle
valley and, together, these will provide an insight into the economy of the
area throughout the medieval and successive periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 210-211
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 210-211

Source: Historic England

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