Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Medieval settlement remains at Whitcombe

A Scheduled Monument in Whitcombe, Dorset

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »
Street or Overhead View
Contributor Photos »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.

Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6937 / 50°41'37"N

Longitude: -2.4023 / 2°24'8"W

OS Eastings: 371681.169323

OS Northings: 88309.093479

OS Grid: SY716883

Mapcode National: GBR PZ.CZ8G

Mapcode Global: FRA 57V7.PYD

Entry Name: Medieval settlement remains at Whitcombe

Scheduled Date: 4 October 1979

Last Amended: 20 July 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019953

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33197

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Whitcombe

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Dorchester and West Stafford

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes the remains of a deserted medieval settlement at
Whitcombe, situated at the head of a dry valley on chalkland. The medieval
settlement may have originally extended over an area of about 8ha. The eastern
part is now occupied by a hamlet which includes a manor, cottages and a farm.
The structures include a variety of examples which date from the late 17th and
early 18th centuries, most are Listed and none are included in the scheduling.
An additional area of possible medieval settlement situated to the south now
lies within an arable area and has been reduced by ploughing.
The surviving area of medieval settlement was recorded by the Royal Commission
on the Historic Monuments of England in 1970 and surveyed by A Hunt in 1976.
It comprises a series of earthworks which extend over an area of about 1.5ha
(situated to the west of the hamlet at Whitcombe). This includes at least six
artificial terraces, which are likely to represent the sites of medieval
buildings, along with several roads or tracks which survive as hollow ways
about 0.5m deep. The settlement appears to have been defined from the
surrounding fields by an outer boundary which survives as a bank and ditch.
The settlement was situated to the north east of a road aligned north west by
south east. This linked the medieval towns of Dorchester and Wareham. The road
also formed the main street of the medieval village at Whitcombe; later it
became disused and now survives as a hollow way (or depression) between 20m-
30m wide and about 0.6m deep.
The parish church is situated near to the centre of the deserted area of the
settlement. The church, which is now redundant, is a Listed Building Grade I.
The associated churchyard is dominated by post-medieval graves, some of which
are Listed at Grade II.
The settlement is first mentioned in the Domesday Survey, when a population of
16 was recorded. The 1332 Lay Subsidy Assessment recorded 12 contributors, the
1664 Hearth Tax assessments recorded 15 dwellings and a late 18th century map
depicts 10 dwellings. It appears that the reduction in the size of the
settlement occurred gradually during the 17th and 19th centuries.
All fence posts and gates which relate to the modern property boundaries and
the wall surrounding the gardens of the cottages on the western side of the
hamlet are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is
included.
Totally excluded from the scheduling are the parish church and the associated
churchyard (which form part of a Conservation Area).

MAP EXTRACT
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 western area of the medieval settlement remains at Whitcombe survives as a
group of well-preserved earthworks and associated buried remains and will
contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and
the associated landscape. The medieval settlement forms one of several
examples which occur along the Dorchester to Wareham road, and together these
will provide an important insight into the economy of the area throughout the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 376

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments

AncientMonuments.uk is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact AncientMonuments.uk for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself.

AncientMonuments.uk is a Good Stuff website.