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Deer park north and north west of Dartington Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Dartington, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4576 / 50°27'27"N

Longitude: -3.6903 / 3°41'25"W

OS Eastings: 280110.7322

OS Northings: 63337.3645

OS Grid: SX801633

Mapcode National: GBR QL.KRLV

Mapcode Global: FRA 375V.64S

Entry Name: Deer park north and north west of Dartington Hall

Scheduled Date: 6 March 2002

Last Amended: 6 December 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020870

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33785

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartington

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Dartington St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes
the enclosing earthworks of a medieval deer park located on the undulating
ground between two spurs overlooking a broad curve in the River Dart to
the north. In the early 14th century, a chase of about 90 acres (about
36ha) was enclosed in North Wood, being extended to the east several times
to create a complex park of approximately 315 acres (about 127ha). At its
greatest extent there were two wooded chases, a semi-wooded coursing park
at the east end, and two open pastures. Parts of the park were disparked
shortly before 1550. Earthwork enclosures in North Wood and Chacegrove
Wood form the subject of separate schedulings.
The enclosing earthwork or park pale varies in design, but mostly consists
of a heavy earth bank measuring between 3m and 3.5m wide and up to 1.7m
high, with a steep inner face, falling into an inner ditch from 2m to 4m
wide and up to 1.5m deep. Occasionally, an upcast bank runs inside this,
measuring 1.5m wide and up to 0.3m high. An outer ditch is sometimes
present, measuring up to 3m wide and up to 0.3m deep. On the south west
side of Newground Plantation, the bank is 7m wide, surviving 1m high with
a flat berm 3m wide outside it, followed by an outer ditch 5m wide and up
to 0.6m deep. An upcast bank outside this is 3m wide and 0.3m high.
Several entrances to the park exist, but the only early ones are in the
southern pale, 250m south east of Chacegrove Wood, and at the north end of
Warren Lane. In Thistlepark Plantation, a strip of ground inside the pale
measures 25m wide and at least 200m long. It has an inner medieval
woodbank 5m wide and 1.5m high, closely followed by a post-medieval
woodbank 5m wide, rising gently 0.6m and falling vertically 1m into a
ditch 2m wide and 0.3m deep. This side is faced with limestone rubble.
A tapering medieval fishpond at the east end of Stillpool Coppice is 75m
long and 15m wide at its north end. Two phases of dams at its north end
include a heavy earth bank alongside the river, 8m wide, 2m high and
surviving up to 25m long. This was replaced by a clay dam 5m to its south,
faced with limestone rubble, 2m wide and surviving 1.5m high. Three
medieval fishponds survive on a north east to south west alignment north
of the Old Postern. The upper pond is of trapezoidal shape and lies inside
Newground Plantation, using the park pale as its dam. It measures 40m
wide, tapering to 20m; it is 45m long and 0.5m deep. The middle pond is
35m wide, 50m long and 0.3m deep. Its dam is 3m wide and has been
remodelled in the 19th century as a rustic waterfall within a garden, of
horseshoe layout, 1.5m high. The lower pond is of tapering form, 75m long,
30m wide at its south end and 1.5m deep. A 19th century rustic butter well
has been inserted into its west side. The dam is an earthwork 3.5m wide
and 1.2m high. All three ponds are generally dry, although water collects
in the upper and lower ones in the winter.
In Staverton Ford Plantation, there is a circular earthwork enclosure
containing a medieval hunting lodge which measures 73m across its visible
earthworks. The enclosure rises 1.7m above the surrounding land and
contains an earthwork of a rectangular stone building, aligned east to
west and measuring 13m wide and 20m long. Its walls are from 1m to 3m wide
and survive up to 0.7m high. Short lengths of wall on its south side
create small additional rooms against earthworks of an ovoid stone curtain
wall which measures 29m from east to west and 41m from north to south. The
wall is from 2m to 3.5m thick and rises between 0.6m and 1m from the
interior, falling up to 1.5m outside. An entrance 3m wide in the east side
has inturns from the curtain wall 2m long, while on the north side, an
entrance 2m wide has traces of a stone abutment for a timber bridge across
the outer ditch. Outside the curtain wall, a sloping berm between 4m and
6m wide, falls 0.4m to the lip of an outer ditch 3m wide and 1m deep. An
upcast bank is 6m wide and from 0.2m to 0.5m high. In the post-medieval
period, two stone faced woodbanks 2m wide and 1m high were built up to the
north and south sides of the enclosure, and limestone facing built against
its south east side, forming two projecting horns, with woodland within.
In 1738, Thomas Serell of Staverton was contracted to build a stone wall
around the eastern park. This wall, which is Listed Grade II, is of
mortared limestone rubble, 2m high and 0.4m wide was built along the
outside of the medieval pale, with gates at its north east corner and west
side, where a carriage drive along the river bank from Totnes, passed
through it. A pedestrian gate 1.1m wide cuts the wall beside the river at
the park's north east corner, while a deer leap 100m west of Warren Lane
is marked by a lowering in the wall's height to 1.3m for a distance of
10m. Pedestrian stiles 0.8m wide, reached by flights of steps, cut the
wall 80m west of this leap and 50m south of the river at the north east
Beside the River Dart east of Stillpool Coppice, a heavy earthwork bank
15m wide and from 0.5m to 1.2m high runs alongside the river. This is a
flood defence bank of post-medieval date. At intervals along the river
bank, limestone rubble piers project out into the river at an angle of
about 30 degrees. These were used as groynes to reduce erosion and measure
from 3.5m to 5m wide, up to 2m high and vary from 15m to 30m long. One of
these piers, outside the scheduling, bears the date 1783.
All houses, modern structures, sheds and greenhouses, garden furniture,
metalled road, track and path surfaces are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Deer parks were areas of land, usually enclosed, set aside and equipped for
the management and hunting of deer and other animals. They were generally
located in open countryside on marginal land or adjacent to a manor house,
castle or palace. They varied in size between 3ha and 1600ha and usually
comprised a combination of woodland and grassland which provided a mixture of
cover and grazing for deer. Parks could contain a number of features,
including hunting lodges (often moated), a park-keeper's house, rabbit
warrens, fishponds and enclosures for game, and were usually surrounded by a
park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank often with an internal ditch.
Although a small number of parks may have been established in the Anglo-Saxon
period, it was the Norman aristocracy's taste for hunting that led to the
majority being constructed. The peak period for the laying-out of parks,
between AD 1200 and 1350, coincided with a time of considerable prosperity
amongst the nobility. From the 15th century onwards few parks were constructed
and by the end of the 17th century the deer park in its original form had
largely disappeared. The original number of deer parks nationally is unknown
but probably exceeded 3000. Many of these survive today, although often
altered to a greater or lesser degree. They were established in virtually
every county in England, but are most numerous in the West Midlands and Home
Counties. Deer parks were a long-lived and widespread monument type. Today
they serve to illustrate an important aspect of the activities of medieval
nobility and still exert a powerful influence on the pattern of the modern
landscape. Where a deer park survives well and is well-documented or
associated with other significant remains, its principal features are normally
identified as nationally important.

Despite some damage to its pale, the deer park north and north west of
Dartington Hall and its internal woodbanks retain important features
relating to the development and use of this complex site. Stratified
archaeological deposits are likely to survive in the ditches and beneath
the banks and will be of considerable importance to the future
understanding of the monument. The earthwork enclosure in Staverton Ford
Plantation is a rare example of a medieval deer park lodge, whose banks,
ditches and buried walls will contain information relating to its use.
Medieval fishponds in Stillpool Coppice and north of the Old Postern are
likely to contain stratified material relating to their former use, while
the 18th century stone wall around part of the park and land reclamation
works beside the river are of interest in understanding the post-medieval
use of the monument.

Source: Historic England


DRO Z15/1/1 (15/6/1550), SMR, (1550)
DRO Z15/1/3 (12/10/1559), SMR, (1559)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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