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Deserted medieval settlement at Blackaton, 340m and 400m north east of Lower Blackaton

A Scheduled Monument in Widecombe in the Moor, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5892 / 50°35'21"N

Longitude: -3.8412 / 3°50'28"W

OS Eastings: 269760.693325

OS Northings: 78229.832243

OS Grid: SX697782

Mapcode National: GBR QC.48Z2

Mapcode Global: FRA 27VH.TKN

Entry Name: Deserted medieval settlement at Blackaton, 340m and 400m north east of Lower Blackaton

Scheduled Date: 7 November 1962

Last Amended: 8 October 2007

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021396

English Heritage Legacy ID: 36025

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Widecombe in the Moor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Widecombe-in-the-Moor St Pancras

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a deserted medieval
settlement situated on the lower west-facing slope of Blackaton Down. The
settlement includes at least eleven separate buildings, three of which are
set within or adjacent to small enclosures called crofts. The buildings
survive as rectangular earthworks with the occasional protruding stones and
most are aligned across the prevailing contour. At least six of the
buildings have visible opposed entrances in their long walls and these must
represent the remains of longhouses. The smaller buildings may represent the
site of barns. A small number of lynchets within the southern part of the
monument represent the remnants of a once more extensive strip field system.
Modern building works in the vicinity of the monument have revealed
substantial quantities of 13th century pottery. Documentation relating to the
settlement indeed confirms that there was a settlement here between the 13th
and 18th centuries, with the earliest reference being in 1229, at which time
it was a manor belonging to the Pipards. In the 16th century the manor was
purchased by the Southcott family and in 18th century documentation there is
a mention of a chapel with courteledge. The site of this chapel maybe
identified with the small building sitting within a square enclosure at NGR
SX 69807828.
All modern fences and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Dartmoor is the largest expanse of open moorland in southern Britain and,
because of exceptional conditions of preservation, it is also one of the most
complete examples of an upland relict landscape in the whole country. The
great wealth and diversity of archaeological remains provides direct evidence
for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards.
The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites,
land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later
industrial remains, gives significant insights into successive changes in the
pattern of land use through time.
Over 130 deserted settlements retaining visible remains of medieval character
are recorded on Dartmoor. Many of these are single abandoned farmsteads but
the majority are small hamlets containing between two and six farmhouses.
Documentary evidence indicates that most such settlements on the Moor were
established between the 11th and mid-14th centuries AD. Although many of these
settlements were deserted by the close of the medieval period, some where
abandoned at a later period.
Deserted medieval settlements are often visible as close groupings of small
buildings, each containing a long house, its ancillary buildings and one or
more adjacent small plots which served as kitchen gardens or stock pens. These
components are arranged within the settlement around internal yards and
trackways which led from the settlement to its associated fields, pasture and
water supply. Occasionally such trackways show evidence for cobbling or
Long houses were the dominant type of farmhouse in upland settlements of
south-west England between the 10th and 16th centuries. Rectangular in plan,
usually with rubble or boulder outer walls and their long axis orientated
downslope, the interiors of long houses were divided into two separate
functional areas, an upslope domestic room and a downslope stock byre, known
in south-west England as a shippon. The proportions of the plan occupied by
the domestic room and the shippon vary considerably but the division between
the two was usually provided by a cross passage of timber screens or rubble
walling running transversely through the long house, linking opposed openings
in the long side walls.
Ancillary buildings were generally separated from the farmhouse itself, or
else constructed as outshuts attached to the long house and often extending
one end. These additional structures served as barns, fuel or equipment stores
and occasionally contained ovens and corn-drying kilns. While many settlements
in Devon are known from documentary sources to be of medieval origin, well-
preserved deserted sites are rare. Consequently, those on Dartmoor provide the
main surviving source of evidence for the distinctive form and layout of
medieval settlements in Devon.

Despite destruction of an outlying part of the deserted medieval settlement
at Blackaton, the remaining parts of the settlement survive well and together
form a good example of a nucleated Dartmoor settlement. Considerable
quantities of archaeological and environmental information relating to
medieval life and farming will survive. A comprehensive range of
contemporary documentation exists to complement the archaeological and
environmental information.

Source: Historic England


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX67NE48, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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