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HER Number:MDV4161
Name:Deserted Medieval Site, Lower Butterbury


Deserted Medieval site consisting of at least four buildings with associated yards and small enclosures. Known locally as Lower Butterbury, or Butterberry but has also been known as 'Butworthy', 'Butsworthy', ‘Butterford’, ‘Butaford’ and 'Boterworthi' when the medieval tenement belonged to Tavistock Abbey. This site is included in the local list of Nationally Important Dartmoor sites.


Grid Reference:SX 547 797
Map Sheet:SX57NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishPeter Tavy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishTAVISTOCK

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthwork and structural remains of a bronze age settlement along a reave as well as a medieval field system and two farmsteads and post-medieval or earlier tin streamworking remains and trial pits on Cudlipptown Down

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX57NW61
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 439894
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NW/50

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Land Tax (Record Office Collection). SDV226218.

This settlement has been equated, together with the adjacent site of Higher Butterbury (PRN 4175) with the Medieval tenement of ‘Boterworthi’. Other details: 1258/7, (possible error - may be 4258-7).

Ordnance Survey, 1803-1804, Surveyors Draft (Report - Survey). SDV227755.

The settlement was not extant in 1803.

Unknown, 1842, Tavistock (Cartographic). SDV342557.

This holding paid land Tax of 14 shillings every year between 1780 and 1832, as Butterford alias Butsworthy.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

48 acres of land around the settlement formed a discrete land unit, called Little Butaford, in 1846.

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1931, The Place-Names of Devon: Part One, 232 (Monograph). SDV1312.

First recorded as "Boterworthi" in 1330.

Finberg, H. P. R., 1951, Tavistock Abbey, 33. 243 (Monograph). SDV226217.

This settlement, along with that of Higher Butterbury was in the possession of Tavistock Abbey from at least 1252. Baterworthi was evidently demesne land of Cudlipptown manor.

Royal Air Force, 1961, 58/4424, 136 (Aerial Photograph). SDV280247.

Other details: F42.

Royal Air Force, 1964, 6399, 0040-41 (Aerial Photograph). SDV228504.

Linehan, C. D., 1965, Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon, 174 (Article in Serial). SDV217992.

Lower Butterbury. Three buildings and parts of others with enclosures. Near Youldon Brook.

Linehan, C. D., 1966, Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, 137-9 (Article in Serial). SDV307246.

Two buildings show late development. Other details: Table 2.

Haynes, R. G., 1966-1969, Ruined Sites on Dartmoor, 73 (Un-published). SDV150434.

(Site visited 27/01/1968) Lower Butterberry consists of the remains of two longhouses and possibly other buildings in ancient enclosures near the head of Youlden Brook. All are now in a ruinous condition. One is unusual in that it is narrower at one end than the other. A modern enclosure wall of Waspworthy Farms passes immediately to the west. Higher Butterberry lies just half a mile to the south-east.

National Monuments Record, 1977, NMR SX5479, 2/242 (Aerial Photograph). SDV226229.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1979, SX57NW61 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV227740.

(23/10/1979) A Medieval settlement with three buildings all of drystone construction and now turf-covered. The walls are 0.8m thick and from 0.2m to 0.6m high. The southernmost building, at SX 54777971, 12.5m long and 3.5m wide, may be the dwelling house and the smaller buildings to the north are, perhaps, barns.
The whole site is contained within well built enclosure walls 1.2m thick and 1.5m high.
Large fields occupy the surrounding area with no visible evidence of rig and furrow though fields to the north east (SX 57 NE 34) may be associated with this settlement.
Surveyed at 1:10 000 on MSD and at 1:2500.
See ground photograph.

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1987-1993, Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit (Report - Survey). SDV350839.

(07/12/1987) A deserted settlement at SX54787972, presumed Medieval, with at least four buildings and associated small enclosures and yards. The site occupies gently-sloping ground in rough pasture.
'A' SX54777971: a long, rectangular structure measuring 12.1 meters by 2.9 meters internally and defined by low, turf-covered stone walls 1.2 meters wide and 0.25 meters to 0.45 meters high. A break in the north long wall may be the site of an entrance. The building lies across the contours and at the south end, the interior is sunken 0.2 meters.
'B' SX54777974: a squarish structure measuring 3.5 meters by 2.9 meters internally with turf-covered stony banks 1.2 meters wide and up to 0.35 meters high, except on the west where the building is embanked to 0.85 meters. There is now almost no trace of an eastwards extension to produce a longer building with central cross passage as depicted by Linehan (1966).
'C' SX54767974: the east end wall, 1.9 meters wide by 0.2 meters high, is the only remnant of a rectangular building approximately 6.0 meters by 4.5 meters depicted by Linehan (1966). Visible on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch map (1880s).
'D' SX54767970: a low earthwork, 7.6 meters by 2.6 meters internally, marks the site of a rectangular building with turf-covered walls eroded to form banks 1.2 meters wide and 0.2 meters to 0.35 meters high. The east end is terraced into the slope.
The buildings are associated with the remains of four enclosures. Two of these are prominent and well-preserved structures defined by walls up to 2.7 meters wide and 1.2 meters high; of stone-faced earth and stone core construction. Their excellent preservation in comparison to the buildings within indicates that they were maintained beyond the life of the settlement, perhaps as animal pens. The north-west enclosure was formerly sub-divided into two; a scarp 0.6 meters high marks the position of the dividing wall. A third enclosure is visible only as an intermittent wall and scarp, approximately 0.2 meters high, heading north from the north-west corner of building "D". The fourth forms a long strip running south from the settlement and may have been a walled access track. It is now largely stripped out.
Fragmentary traces of walling indicate possible robbed structures built against the enclosure wall at SX54767973.
A well-maintained field wall abuts the settlement on the west. Otherwise the field boundaries around are redundant, though still quite prominent features up to 2.5 meters and 0.7 meters high. Several are depicted on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition 6 inch map (1880s) but only the perimeter of the tithe plot is shown on 1842 Tithe Map. Faint traces of possible ridge and furrow can be seen to the north-west at SX54707976.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North (Monograph). SDV219155.

Settlement is depicted on Butler's map. Other details: Map 31.

Gerrard, S., 2004, List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor (Un-published). SDV345444.

This site was considered for designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument during the Monument Protection Programme. The programme ended before the entire list of sites was successfully scheduled so this is included on a local list of Nationally Important Sites.

Newman, P., 2004, Merrivale Range Baseline Condition Survey (Report - Survey). SDV346874.

(25/08/2004) This settlement is largely bracken covered but otherwise in a good and stable condition.

Probert, S. A. J., 2010, A Condition Survey of the Archaeological Sites of Merrivale Range, Dartmoor Training Area (Report - Survey). SDV360515.

This settlement is largely bracken covered but otherwise in a good and stable condition.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

White, P., 2013, Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads, Lower Butterbury (Un-published). SDV352501.

Lower Butterbury a deserted settlement with a longhouse.

Historic England, 2021-2022, NRHE to HER website (Website). SDV364039.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV1312Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1931. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. VIII. A5 Hardback. 232.
SDV150434Un-published: Haynes, R. G.. 1966-1969. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Manuscript + Digital. 73.
SDV217992Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1965. Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 97. A5 Hardback. 174.
SDV219155Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume.
SDV226217Monograph: Finberg, H. P. R.. 1951. Tavistock Abbey. Unknown. 33. 243.
SDV226218Record Office Collection: Land Tax. Devon Record Office Collection. Unknown.
SDV226229Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1977. NMR SX5479. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2/242.
SDV227740Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1979. SX57NW61. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV227755Report - Survey: Ordnance Survey. 1803-1804. Surveyors Draft. Ordnance Survey. Unknown.
SDV228504Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1964. 6399. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 0040-41.
SDV280247Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1961. 58/4424. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 136.
SDV307246Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1966. Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Digital. 137-9.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV342557Cartographic: Unknown. 1842. Tavistock. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Map (Paper).
SDV345444Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #91161 ]
SDV346874Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2004. Merrivale Range Baseline Condition Survey. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. Unknown.
SDV350839Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1987-1993. Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. Unknown.
SDV352501Un-published: White, P.. 2013. Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads. Excel Spreadsheet. Lower Butterbury.
SDV360515Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J.. 2010. A Condition Survey of the Archaeological Sites of Merrivale Range, Dartmoor Training Area. A4 Comb Bound.
SDV364039Website: Historic England. 2021-2022. NRHE to HER website. https://nrhe-to-her.esdm.co.uk/NRHE. Website.

Associated Monuments

MDV4175Related to: Deserted Medieval Site, Higher Butterbury (Monument)
MDV56612Related to: Medieval field system surrounding Butworthy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7441 - Condition survey of the archaeological sites of Merrivale Training Area
  • EDV7570 - Condition survey of Merrivale Range training area
  • EDV8713 - Merrivale Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey
  • EDV8423 - Duchy Farms Project

Date Last Edited:Sep 3 2021 10:03AM