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HER Number:MDV21574
Name:Deserted Medieval Settlement at Bolt Head


Possible medieval settlement near Bolt Head, though no traces now visible. Available evidence points to prehisoric settlement in area.


Grid Reference:SX 715 370
Map Sheet:SX73NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishMalborough
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishMALBOROUGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX73NW/35
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX73NW 14

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • DESERTED SETTLEMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX73NW14 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV343426.

The tithe map and award distinguishes areas of waste and brake, but shows that the field names of the estate map were still current.
Site visit 29th January 1987. There is no question that the Bolt Head deserted medieval village as described and postioned by 'Anon' 1963 and 1965 is a fiction. That a form of settlement existed is attested by 18th century tradition at which time Starehole Bottom comprised the whole 1.5 kilometres long valley between SX711370 and SX726366. Although rather shallow at the western end a fairly sheltered area of at least 30 hectares would be suitable for settlement. No ground evidence of any buildings can be found other than the existing barns and defunct cottages and ruins, which originated with the Earl of Devon's enclosure of Soars Common in the early 18th century. Clearance was thorough although outcrops of stone and waste still remain. Many fields have been enlarged in recent years by removing intervening walls and the area is mostly under pasture. Such evidence points to a prehistoric settlement destroyed by enclosure rather than a deserted medieval village, even though there is only one reference to houses being circular, and this is an area 1 mile west of Starehole Bottom. None were found, possibly one or two huts survive where all is densely overgrown. Numerous traces of prehistoric field systems.

Lang, G., 1777, Courtenay Estate Map (Record Office Collection). SDV144955.

Estate map shows a large part of Soars Common, and Starehole Bottom, centred at SX72403667, to be an enclosed area of rectilinear fields with four groups of barns, all leased to Mr Fairweather. The fields names have no archaeological significance.

Hawkins, A., 1819, Untitled Source, 207 (Monograph). SDV144702.

The Whole (Starehole Bottom) is the site of a Danish town, which contained 60 dwellings, or as cited by our guide: 'by the records of England it was a Danish town and had 60 dwellers'. He understood that brass coins had been found very lately in digging and ploughing, by labourers of Mr Fairweather.

Unknown, 1841, Malborough (Cartographic). SDV150680.

Fox, S. P., 1874, Untitled Source, 183 (Monograph). SDV155994.

Royal Air Force, 1946, CPE/UK 1890 (Aerial Photograph). SDV140289.

Other details: Also 2023.

Unknown, 1963, Appendix B (Article in Serial). SDV343425.

Unknown, 1965, Appendix E (Article in Serial). SDV343424.

Hall, J. + Hamlin, A., 1976, Deserted Medieval Settlements in Devon, 5 (Article in Serial). SDV38836.

Bolt Head, exposed cliff top. Report of overgrown walls and 12-13th century pottery at site traditionally abandoned in Henry VIII's reign. Site unlocated but one medieval cooking pot rim found in ploughsoil.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978 - 1983, SX73NW14 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV343421.

1. Bolt Head Deserted medieval settlement (medieval name unknown) is listed among sites of excellent visual quality, with a clear pattern of earthworks recognisable as roads and croft boundaries, together with the shapes of houses visible.
2. Indeterminate features visible on air photographs.

Collings, A. G., 1983, Bolt Head Medieval Village (Worksheet). SDV343419.

Note on alleged deserted medieval village at Bolt Head, from Dean Milles questionnaire. Curate refers to a town on the Soars, a large common above Bolt Head. He speaks of the "ruins and foundations of the houses which were torn up to build the walls of the common", specifically "a very large building with two small rooms". Site visit December 1983. Two jambstones remain of a problematical structure, just south of the Warren boundary wall, conceivably the 'very large building', but the presence of demolished World War II brickwork makes it impossible to reach any conclusion. Other details: Microfilm copy of Dean Milles manuscript in West Counry Studfies Library.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV140289Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. CPE/UK 1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV144702Monograph: Hawkins, A.. 1819. Kingsbridge and Salcombe. Unknown. 207.
SDV144955Record Office Collection: Lang, G.. 1777. Courtenay Estate Map. Courtenay Survey of the South Hams. Manuscript.
SDV150680Cartographic: Unknown. 1841. Malborough. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Map (Paper).
SDV155994Monograph: Fox, S. P.. 1874. Kingsbridge and its Surroundings. Unknown. 183.
SDV343419Worksheet: Collings, A. G.. 1983. Bolt Head Medieval Village. Devon County Sites and Monuments Register. Worksheet.
SDV343421Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978 - 1983. SX73NW14. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV343424Article in Serial: Unknown. 1965. Appendix E. Deserted Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report. 13. Unknown.
SDV343425Article in Serial: Unknown. 1963. Appendix B. Deserted Medieval Village Research Group Annual Report. 11. Unknown.
SDV343426Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX73NW14. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV38836Article in Serial: Hall, J. + Hamlin, A.. 1976. Deserted Medieval Settlements in Devon. Devon Historian. 13. A5 Paperback. 5.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Nov 21 2013 3:32PM