Ancient Monuments

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Coaxial field system, hut circles and medieval farm buildings at Starehole Bottom

A Scheduled Monument in Malborough, Devon

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Latitude: 50.2147 / 50°12'52"N

Longitude: -3.7896 / 3°47'22"W

OS Eastings: 272408.863088

OS Northings: 36497.068155

OS Grid: SX724364

Mapcode National: GBR QG.945J

Mapcode Global: FRA 28YG.9FW

Entry Name: Coaxial field system, hut circles and medieval farm buildings at Starehole Bottom

Scheduled Date: 16 October 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020577

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34887

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Malborough

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Malborough All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes part of a coaxial field system containing three
scattered hut circles, medieval banks, and the sites of four medieval
agricultural buildings with associated hollow ways. Post-medieval features
include two miners' prospecting pits and a water management system. The
monument lies partly on a flat coastal plateau, sloping steeply down into a
valley to the north, with dramatic views of the local coastal scenery all
The coaxial banks of the field system are aligned north west to south east
and cut across the steep southern side of Starehole Bottom at an angle,
continuing up onto the flat coastal plateau. The sub-rectangular fields
are defined by further banks which measure from 2m to 5m wide and from
0.5m to 1.3m high. They contain occasional fragments of facing stonework
and vertical orthostats. Three hut circles are located within the fields
on the coastal plateau and measure from 12m to 15m in total diameter with
stone faced encircling walls surviving as banks from 2m to 4m wide and up
to 1m high. Medieval sub-divisions of the field system at the south west
corner have low banks forming narrow strips from 15m to 25m wide and from
70m to 90m long. Other sub-divisions in Starehole Bottom have created very
small paddocks, which contain two rectangular detached buildings measuring
from 15m to 23m long and 10m wide, with walls 2m wide and up to 1m high.
Two more rectangular building platforms from 6m to 8m long and up to 3m
wide are scarped into the cliff edge alongside medieval hollow ways which
descend from the field system into Starehole Cove at the east end of the
monument. A water management system just west of the cove is of
post-medieval date, with a small dam across the stream, from which a leat
fed a distribution tank 4m by 5m wide and up to 1.2m deep. Three gullies
leading from this tank down to the cliff edge measure 1m wide and from
0.4m to 0.8m deep. Two post-medieval miners' prospecting pits on the north
western corner of the plateau are on an east to west alignment and are
roughly circular, measuring 15m in diameter and from 0.6m to 1m deep.
All fence posts 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

Coaxial field systems are one of several methods of land division employed
during the Bronze Age; evidence from areas such as Dartmoor, where they are
relatively common, suggest their introduction around 1700 BC and their
continued use until 1000 BC. They generally consist of linear stones banks
forming parallel boundaries running up slope to meet similar boundaries that
run along the contours of higher slopes. The long strips formed by the
parallel boundaries may be subdivided by cross banks to form a series of
rectangular field plots, each sharing a common axis. Broadly contemporary
occupation sites, comprising hut circle settlements, and funerary and
ceremonial sites, may be found within these enclosed fields.
Coaxial field systems are representative of their period and an important
element in the existing landscape. Surviving examples are likely to be
considered of national importance.

Despite slight damage, the coaxial field system, hut circles and medieval farm
buildings at Starehole Bottom survive well. Their earthworks will contain
stratigraphic information relating to their construction and use.
The medieval farm buildings represent examples of a type of dispersed
settlement characteristic of this part of the south west peninsula.

Source: Historic England


MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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