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HER Number:MDV4306
Name:Lower Piles Medieval Settlement, Harford


Lower Piles deserted Medieval site consisting of the remains of at least three buildings close to Piles Brook. This site is on the local list of Nationally Important Dartmoor sites.


Grid Reference:SX 642 609
Map Sheet:SX66SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishHarford
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishHARFORD

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of a field system with possible prehistoric origins surrounding Lower Piles deserted medieval farmstead, as well as a prehistoric cairn and industrial streamworking along Piles Brook and the River Erme

Other References/Statuses

  • Dartmoor Non-designated Heritage Asset (Evidential): NI Sites
  • National Monuments Record: SX66SW61
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 442355
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX66SW/59

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • DESERTED SETTLEMENT (Constructed, Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD (Between) to 1750 AD (Between))
  • FARMSTEAD (Constructed, Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD (Between) to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1931, The Place-Names of Devon: Part One, 275 (Monograph). SDV1312.

'Higher and Lower Piles' were mentioned as 'Pyles Wood' in 1542.

Royal Air Force, 1953, 58/1110, 0052 (Aerial Photograph). SDV157241.

Linehan, C. D., 1965, Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon, 172 (Article in Serial). SDV217992.

Deserted medieval site (Lower Piles). There are four buildings with crofts inside enclosures, close to Piles Brook.

Linehan, C. D., 1966, Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, 124, Table 2. (Article in Serial). SDV307246.

SX 643 610. A deserted site, including four buildings together with enclosures at Lower Piles, Harford.

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

(Site visited 29/04/1966). At least two longhouses are visible with outbuildings in enclosures on the banks of the Piles Brook. An extensive field system stretches to the south and east. Other details: 75, 76 Plans included.

National Monuments Record, 1976, NMR SX6460, 5 (Aerial Photograph). SDV157244.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1977, SX66SW61 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV157239.

(05/08/1977) Centred SX 6421 6099. This deserted Medieval farmstead comprises 3
probable long houses and a rectangular building and yards, situated on gentle west facing slopes astride Piles Brook at 245m above OD.
The enclosing wall and bank of drystone rubble stands up to 0.6m high in the north east and south west and up to 1.0m high in the north west and south east where it has a boulder faced revetment. The longhouses measure internally: A, 15.0m by 4.5m, with rubble walls 1.0m wide, up to 0.9m high and in good condition; B, 11.0m by 3.2m, walls 1.0m wide, up to 0.4m high and in poor condition, with possible doorway central to south west side; C, c18m by 5m, walls 1.0m wide, up to 0.8m high and fragmentary. There is evidence of internal partitions in longhouses A and C, and B and C are set into the slope to a depth of 1.0m. The rectangular building measures about 6.5m by 4.0m internally and has been partly destroyed by the construction of a modern newtake wall. There is an oval yard, 17m by 12m on the north and possible small yards adjoining longhouses A and B. The site has been mutilated by the construction of a modern newtake wall across the site and the robbery of walling to form a newtake wall across the north of the site.
Surveyed at 1:10000 on MSD. Enlargement Survey at 1:1000 on 495.

Hankin, C. F., 1977 - 1979, Lower Piles medieval settlement (Worksheet). SDV157238.

The site occupies an area of about two acres and is a complex of old earth and stone banks up to 0.5 meters high, through which run two relatively modern newtake walls and a stream known as Piles Brook. Three probable longhouses have been recognised, a small rectangular building, and several "yards" or courts.

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

Three ruined rectangular buildings, two with possible internal divisions, surrounded by an area of walls and ditches.

Griffiths, D. M., 1987, Lower Piles medieval settlement (Worksheet). SDV157245.

(Site visited on 15/04/1987). Remains of three buildings, two to the south and one north of the Piles Brook. The southernmost building is long and rectangular in shape, but has no evidence for opposing entrances. The building on the north side of the brook consists of two rooms, with what appears to be fireplace set into the dividing wall, suggesting a post medieval date. Some of the medieval field banks surrounding the site have been refurbished at a later date, and support stone walls.

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.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

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

Lower Piles deserted settlement.

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. 275.
SDV150434Un-published: Haynes, R. G.. 1966-1969. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Manuscript + Digital.
SDV157238Worksheet: Hankin, C. F.. 1977 - 1979. Lower Piles medieval settlement. Harford Parish Checklist. Digital.
SDV157239Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1977. SX66SW61. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV157241Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1953. 58/1110. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. 0052.
SDV157244Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1976. NMR SX6460. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. 5.
SDV157245Worksheet: Griffiths, D. M.. 1987. Lower Piles medieval settlement. Worksheet. Digital.
SDV217992Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1965. Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 97. A5 Hardback. 172.
SDV307246Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1966. Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Digital. 124, Table 2..
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.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #91563 ]
SDV345444Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
SDV352501Un-published: White, P.. 2013. Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads. Excel Spreadsheet. Lower Piles.

Associated Monuments

MDV27799Related to: Field system at Lower Piles, Yadsworthy (Monument)
MDV102679Related to: Ruined building and enclosure north-east of Yadsworthy Waste, Cornwood (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 24 2022 4:11PM