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HER Number:MDV27723
Name:Southill Leat, Lydford


The oldest known leat on Dartmoor, first documented in 1505. It ran from high on the North Teign to a tin mill at Southill.


Grid Reference:SX 648 850
Map Sheet:SX68NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX68NE198
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 1485525
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68SW/135
  • Old SAM Ref Revised: 28714(PART)
  • Old SAM Ref: 28663(PART)
  • Pastscape: 1485525

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LEAT (Constructed, XV to XVI - 1401 AD to 1506 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 13/04/1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1995, 2364-5 (Aerial Photograph). SDV224714.

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/2149, 4301-9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV282746.

National Monuments Record, 1977, NMR SX6383, SX6383/3/243-246 (Aerial Photograph). SDV244058.

Hemery, E., 1983, High Dartmoor, 773 (Monograph). SDV249702.

Southill Leat was cut in 1505 and ran to a mill at Southill. An entry in the Accounts of the Forester of the East Quarter in 1505-6 refer to a 'new rent'.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP (Cartographic). SDV319854.

Leat following contours and meeting with streamwork area visible on 1947 RAF aerial photo and also on 1977 National Monuments Record photo. Possible bank extending through newly planted forest in 1945 at SX64228423.

Greeves, T. A. P., 1990, An Assessment of Dartmoor Tinworking, 33 (Report - Assessment). SDV343684.

Oldest known leat on Dartmoor, documented in the late 15th century. Its head weir is high on the North teign at SX625833. Its purpose seems to have been to serve tin mill at Southill. It has a moorland route of 6.4 kilometres before falling steeply to a tinners' reservoir, where it branched with one channel leading to an openwork before reuniting with the main channel, then passing through enclosed ground to South Hill.

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., 143963 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

The Southill Leat runs across the North Teign coaxial field system.

Probert, S. A. J., 1991, Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation (Report - Survey). SDV268984.

(11/10/1991) SX63248364 to SX66968654. The origin of this leat was probably a right bank tributary of the North Teign River in the area of Little Varracombe. Accounts of the Forester of the East Quarter in 1505-6 quoted by Hemery (1983) indicate that its destination was a mill at Southill. Of an approximate original length of 8 kilometres about 5.5 kilometres of this leat has been surveyed. It starts at about 475m above OD and is last visible at 345m above OD. The latter point is about 1 kilometre from its final destination which probably lay in the region of 260m above OD.
Where visible it varies in its degree of preservation from barely discernible to a fairly uniform feature 1.3m wide and up to 0.6m deep. It is usually embanked on its downslope side. It is first visible between SX 63248364 and SX 63758343 on the north flank of Sittaford Tor. A further section lies between SX 63978353 and SX 64078423 on Long Ridge. At the latter point it enters Fernworthy Forest where its course has been disturbed by forestry activity. No attempt has been made by RCHME to chart the 1.5 kilometre course through the forest. It re-emerges at SX 64868503 in Langridge Newtake and soon after bifurcates and runs down a relatively steep slope before the channels re-join at SX 65178534. This untypically steep descent for a leat has led to the scouring of two gullies up to 2.2m deep and 4.0m wide. Between SX 65228537 and SX 65308548 the leat has to traverse the watershed between the Crown Hall Stream and Stonetor Brook. To retain an adequate elevation after the negotiation of the west and north flanks of Shovel Down it is forced to cross the watershed by means of a turf or soil built aqueduct raising the channel a maximum of 0.8m above the surrounding plain.
It bisects three of the stone rows (Monument HOB UID 443524) on the northeast flank of Shovel Down and runs along the northwest side of Chagford Common to SX 66648653 where it again bifurcates. One arm, allegedly a head dyke protecting enclosed land to the southeast and north (1991, oral information mentioned in NRHE record), veers off at a very acute angle and is visible until SX 66748700 and again between SX 66728707 and SX 66668709. The main channel follows a more natural course around the northeast flank of Chagford Common until SX 66828639 where it too splits, both sections descending part of a steep northeast slope as well-defined gullies converging again at SX 66888637. The latter point lies in an area disturbed by more recent activity and the course becomes lost. However, some 50m southeast of this convergence are what appears to be exploratory tin workings (Monument HOB UID 907090). These constitute deep gullies flanked in places by stoney spoil heaps. One of these features runs obliquely down the slope between SX 66958634 and SX 66968654 and may be the former course of the Southill Leat. At the foot of this slope lies a forestry plantation which was briefly investigated though no discernible leat channel was recognised.
Surveyed in 1990 during the RCHME Duchy Farms Project at 1:5000 and in the 1991 RCHME Shovel Down and Castor Surveys at 1:2500.

Cranstone, D. + Hedley, I., 1995, Monuments Protection Programme: The Tin Industry Step 3 Site Assessments, Devon 57 (Report - non-specific). SDV357946.

A 15th century leat which served the Teigncombe beamworks and mill at South Hill.

Newman, P., 2013, Fernworthy Forest Sites Survey (Un-published). SDV351708.

Newman, P., 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon, 60, Fig 2 (Report - Survey). SDV351784.

The Southill leat probably dates to the 15th century. It runs from the North Teign to Southill where it powered a mill. The leat is difficult to trace through the Fernworthy plantation, where it runs across the north-west corner.

National Monument Record, 2014, Pastscape, 1485525 (Website). SDV355682.

Remains of a Medieval leat which originated on a tributary of the North Teign River within the Little Varracombe area. The leat dates to the 15th century and served the Teigncombe beamworks and mill at South Hill. It was documented in 1505-6 and originally was 8 kilometres in length. An archaeological field survey in 1991 recorded that the leat survived in varying states of preservation from barely discernable to a channel 1.3 metres in width and up to 0.6 metres in depth with a bank on the downslope side. NMR No. SX68NE198. Record last updated: 2008.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV224714Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 13/04/1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1995. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2364-5.
SDV244058Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1977. NMR SX6383. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Unknown. SX6383/3/243-246.
SDV249702Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1983. High Dartmoor. High Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 773.
SDV268984Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J.. 1991. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigations. Unknown.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. 143963.
SDV282746Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/2149. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4301-9.
SDV319854Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV343684Report - Assessment: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1990. An Assessment of Dartmoor Tinworking. Digital. 33.
SDV351708Un-published: Newman, P.. 2013. Fernworthy Forest Sites Survey. Digital.
SDV351784Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2013. The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Southwest Landscape Investigations. Digital + A4. 60, Fig 2.
SDV355682Website: National Monument Record. 2014. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. 1485525.
SDV357946Report - non-specific: Cranstone, D. + Hedley, I.. 1995. Monuments Protection Programme: The Tin Industry Step 3 Site Assessments. Monument Protection Programme. Foolscap. Devon 57.

Associated Monuments

MDV6168Related to: Alignment A on Shovel Down (Monument)
MDV6181Related to: Alignment G on Shovel Down (Monument)
MDV14882Related to: Alignment J on Shovel Down (Monument)
MDV58318Related to: Hut adjacent the Southill Leat on Shovel Down (Monument)
MDV58331Related to: Hut by leat in settlement on Shovel Down (Monument)
MDV58315Related to: Hut in settlement on Shovel Down, east of the Southill Leat (Monument)
MDV58334Related to: Hut in settlement on Shovel Down, east of the Southill Leat (Monument)
MDV59200Related to: Pillow mound 200m north-west of Castor Rock (Monument)
MDV58319Related to: Small hut adjacent the Southill Leat on Shovel Down (Monument)
MDV58330Related to: Small hut circle in settlement on Shovel Down (Monument)
MDV58316Related to: Small hut in settlement on Shovel Down, east of the Southill Leat (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6203 - Archaeological Survey of Fernworthy Forest
  • EDV7389 - Fernworthy Forest condition survey 1996
  • EDV7410 - Fernworthy Forest condition survey 1992
  • EDV8043 - Excavation on Shovel Down and Kes Tor (2003)
  • EDV8651 - Teignhead Newtake, Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV8652 - Langridge Newtake, Duchy Farms Survey

Date Last Edited:May 10 2021 10:54AM