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HER Number:MDV4175
Name:Deserted Medieval Site, Higher Butterbury


Deserted Medieval settlement consisting of six buildings with associated yards and small enclosures. Known locally as Higher 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 549 793
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: SX57NW62
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 439897
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NW/56
  • Old SAM County Ref: 56

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Land Tax (Record Office Collection). SDV226218.

The holding depicted on the 1842 Tithe Map as 'Butterbury' paid land tax between 1780 and 1832 as "Butworthy" or "Butsworthy". Other details: 1258/7, (possible error - may be 4258-7).

Devon County Council, 1838-1848, Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848 (Cartographic). SDV349431.

Not shown on the 19th century Tithe Map. At this time 94 acres of pasture around the site of the settlement formed a discrete unit known as 'Butterbury'.

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

The time of desertion of this settlement is not known; although building 'D' and the croft adjacent to building 'B' are depicted on the Ordnance Survey 1st Edition maps.

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

First recorded in 1330 (Lay Subsidy Rolls) as 'Boterworthi'. It is recorded again in 1342, 1408 and 1488.

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

An extensive field system is associated with this settlement. The settlement has been equated with the Medieval tenement of "Boterworthi" (along with the adjacent site MDV 4161), which belonged to Tavistock Abbey as part of their demesne waste of Cudlipptown. Leases exist for 1252 and 1303.

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.

Higher Butterbury. Five or more buildings with crofts and enclosures.

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

Six buildings, one with a cross passage, and a room at the upper end. Tapers at both ends of the house. Two buildings have small annexes, and another longhouse appears to have been rebuilt in part to make a shed or barn. Crofts adjoin two of the houses, and a track enters through the old enclosures from Wapsworthy, a nearby spring. Other details: Plan.

Haynes, R. G., 1966-1969, Ruined Sites on Dartmoor, 46 (Un-published). SDV150434.

(Site visited 27/1/1968) Remains of five houses in ancient Butterberry, all in ruinous condition and turfed over. Planning of this site particularly difficult due to the dilapidated conditions of the turfed-over walls and the presence of multiple grassy hummocks.

National Monuments Record, 1977, NMR SX5479, 1/230, 2/241 (Aerial Photograph). SDV226229.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1979, SX56NW62 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV226224.

The plan accompanying Linehan, C. D. (1966), is generalised and disoriented but the settlement seems to have two long-houses (A and B) and three or four ancillary buildings (C to F).
A: Building 21.2 meters long and from 3.4 meters wide at the curving ends to 4.5 meters wide near the centre of the house where there are two opposing entrances. The walls are of turf-covered rubble 1.0 meter wide and up to 0.4 meters high.
B: Building 18.0 meters long and 3.8 meters wide and three subdivisions and a central doorway on the south-west side. The room at the south-east end juts beyond the main frontage which itself is paralleled by a protection wall. Walling is 1.5 meters wide and up to 0.8 meters high.
C: A turf-covered platform, 0.5 meters high, possibly a small building.
D: Apparently rebuilt, the only structure of tumbled rubble which has no turf covering. It measures 5.0 meters by 3.0 meters, is 0.7 meters high and is much infilled with stone, some of which is probably clearance rubble.
Large fields (but no ridge and furrow) occur in the area with strip fields at SX547791 overlying a prehistoric system. Another system of fields possibly associated is to the north-east. Other details: Plans.

Beresford, G., 1979, Three Deserted Medieval Settlements on Dartmoor: a Report on the Late E. Marie Minter's Excavations, 124 (Article in Serial). SDV307264.

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

To the south-west a large group of fields, some surviving in modern field pattern, others as ploughed-out banks.

Pattison, P., 1988, Duchy Farms Survey (includes Cuddliptown Down) (Report - Survey). SDV226221.

(See RCHME 1:2500 Survey of Cudlipptown Down)
(11/01/1988) The deserted Medieval settlement of Butworthy at SX54987938 comprising six buildings with associated yards and small enclosures. The site occupies a gentle slope on wet, marshy pasture.
Building 'A' at SX54967937. A longhouse measuring 19.3 meters by 2.5 meters to 3.2 meters wide internally; widest at the centre and tapering to both ends, especially the south-east where it is cut into the slope to a depth of 0.55 meters. There is a central cross-passage formed by opposed entrances 2.0 meters wide in walls of partly turf-covered rubble 1.2 meters by 1.9 meters wide and 0.4 meters high, with occasional traces of good facing. Walling material is local stone of medium and large size. There are two internal partition walls. One separated an area 3.5 meters by 3.2 meters internally at the north-west end in the north-west angle of which is a small structure, possibly a fireplace. If so, the lower end of the building was not a shippon at some stage - a fact not uncommon in longhouses (see Medieval Archaeology, 1979). A second partition wall delimits a small cell at the opposite end, measuring only 2.5 meters by 0.9 meters internally and possibly a store-room. The entrance in the south-east long wall is protected by a porch opening to the north-west with overall dimensions of 4.0 by 3.0 meters.
Building 'B' at SX54997938. A structure of slightly irregular linear shape with four cells arranged in series. Cell 1, at the south-east end measures 5.2 meters by 2.0 meters internally and projects beyond the main frontage formed by the other three. Cell 2, at the north-west end, is 3.5 meters by 2.3 meters internally and has an independent entrance 1.4 meters wide at its southern corner. The adjacent cell 3 is 3.2 meters by 2.9 meters internally. Cell 4 is next to Cell 1 and may not be a true room; there is an embanked entrance from a sunken way running parallel to the building's south-west side, probably providing common access to cells 1 and 3. The eastern wall of the building follows an irregular course and is better preserved than any other of its walls; up to 1.5 meters wide and 0.7 meters high with coursed walling of dressed stone visible on the inside. The remaining walls are of collapsed rubble, partly turf-covered, 1.5 meters wide and 0.4 meters high. The whole structure does not appear to be a longhouse. Two polygonal crofts adjoin building 'B', one to the north-east and another to the north-west; of 0.04 and 0.02 hectares respectively. Each is defined by large, turf-covered rubble walls 2.0 meters wide and up to 0.8 meters high. The smaller has a large concentration of rubble against its south-east side; possibly a dismantled building.
Building 'C' at SX54937938. A small turf-covered platform approximately 5.0 by 3.0 meters and 0.2 meters high set in the junction between a field bank oriented north-west by south-east and an enclosure wall of the settlement. The south-western wall has been heightened by material dug from a trench adjacent to it on the outside; probably a feature of recent military origin.
Building 'D' at SX54947937. A small rectangular building whose true lines are obscured by collapsed rubble and probably some clearance material. Internal wall faces are visible in places, giving an internal area of 3.7 meters by 3.0 meters. Its walls are 1.0 meter wide where extant but are generally collapsed spreads up to 2.2 meters wide and 0.7 meters high. There is no evidence of a rebuild contra Ordnance Survey Card 1979. Its survival in some form recorded on 1884 6 inch map, possibly as a ruin.
Building 'E' at SX54977937. A structure of invested l-shape plan, the main range measuring 11.7 by 3.4 meters internally and the southern projection 2.9 meters by 2.0 meters internally. The whole is defined by turf-covered banks 1.7 - 2.3 meters wide and up to 0.4 meters high. There is an entrance 1.5 meters wide in the north wall of the main range. It possibly overlies another structure visible as an inexplicable, low, turf-covered wall against the north wall.
Building 'F' at SX54997935. A rectangular building measuring 10.5 by 3.8 meters internally with walls of turf-covered stone 1.6 meters wide and 0.6 meters high (maximum) and thickened at the north-west corner. A line of medium-size stones has been placed along the internal face of the south wall. There is a possible entrance in the north wall. The interior of the building is sunk approximately 0.25 meters below the level of a square croft which adjoins it on the south. The croft is outlined by a regular wall of large stones set edge to edge with several uprights, 0.8 meters wide and up to 0.8 meters high. A trench has been dug within it alongside the south wall of building 'F' - possibly a military feature similar to that accompanying building 'C'.
Building 'F' is possibly associated with another croft of irregular shape to the north.
At 'G' is a croft of small enclosure with a clear entrance 2.0 meters wide in its west wall, defined by turf-covered rubble walling 1.8 meters wide by 0.5 meters high. It is associated possibly with buildings 'A' or 'C'.

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

Settlement 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.

These features remain as described in 1988. They lie in open grassland and are in a stable condition.

GeoInformation Group Ltd, 2010, 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution) (Aerial Photograph). SDV346026.

Remains of this settlement are clearly visible on the aerial photography taken in 2010. Map object based on this Source.

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

These features remain as described in 1988. They lie in open grassland and are in a stable condition.

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

Map object based on this Source.

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

Higher Butterbury a deserted settlement with a longhouse.

Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Two buildings shown on modern mapping.

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. 46.
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.
SDV226221Report - Survey: Pattison, P.. 1988. Duchy Farms Survey (includes Cuddliptown Down). Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field/Recording In. Unknown.
SDV226224Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1979. SX56NW62. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV226229Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1977. NMR SX5479. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1/230, 2/241.
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.
SDV307264Article in Serial: Beresford, G.. 1979. Three Deserted Medieval Settlements on Dartmoor: a Report on the Late E. Marie Minter's Excavations. Medieval Archaeology. 23. Unknown. 124.
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.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV345444Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
SDV346026Aerial Photograph: GeoInformation Group Ltd. 2010. 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution). 2010 Aerial Photographs. Digital.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
SDV346874Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2004. Merrivale Range Baseline Condition Survey. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. Unknown.
SDV349431Cartographic: Devon County Council. 1838-1848. Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Map. Digital.
SDV352501Un-published: White, P.. 2013. Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads. Excel Spreadsheet. Higher Butterbury.
SDV359352Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV360515Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J.. 2010. A Condition Survey of the Archaeological Sites of Merrivale Range, Dartmoor Training Area. A4 Comb Bound.

Associated Monuments

MDV4161Related to: Deserted Medieval Site, Lower 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:Aug 23 2021 11:07AM