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HER Number:MDV4806
Name:Deserted Medieval Settlements, Sites 52-59, at Okehampton


Series of interlinked deserted Medieval settlements (Sites 52-59) to the southwest of Okehampton set within an extensive Medieval field system. These settlements seem to have been cleared when the area was converted to a deer park in the early 14th century.


Grid Reference:SX 574 924
Map Sheet:SX59SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishOkehampton Hamlets
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishOKEHAMPTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 440846
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX59SE/5
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • DESERTED SETTLEMENT (VIII to Late Medieval - 701 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

RAF, 1946, RAF/3G TUD UK 138, 5358-5359 (Aerial Photograph). SDV217995.

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

A deserted medieval settlement is visible occupying a large part of the north, northeast and southwest slopes of Black Down. There are several well preserved areas of ridge and furrow, and there are two groups of lynchets at SX57509300 and SX57959280. A number of ruined buildings are visible.

Linehan, C. D., 1966, Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, 125 (Article in Serial). SDV307246.

The upper slope of Okehampton Park has a series of interlinked deserted longhouse groups. They extend from Meldon Quarry to St Michael's bungalow, and include a field system with ridge and furrow. Between 1221 and 1306 the area was converted to a Deer Park by the Courtenay family.

Houston, 1966, Okehampton Settlements, 125-31 (Article in Serial). SDV218002.

Other details: Plans.

Quinnell, O. S, 1971, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, 329 (Monograph). SDV218003.

Cartographical Services, 1972, 320/253406-411 (Aerial Photograph). SDV217984.

Cartographical Services, 1973, 384/5397 (Aerial Photograph). SDV217985.

Balkwill, C. J., 1976, Quarries, 4-17 (Report - Survey). SDV325006.

The creation of the deer park presumably caused the desertion of the sites.

Timms, S. C., 1976, The Devon Urban Survey, 1976. First Draft, 157, 159, 163 (Report - Survey). SDV341346.

The area of scattered farmsteads surviving today as earthworks on the northern slopes of the moor were probably abandoned by the early 14th century. There is no documentary evidence to give a name to this area of settlement and the name 'Saxongate' is considered insufficient evidence to support the location of the Saxon 'Ocmundtune' in this area.

Balkwill, C. J., 1977, Archaeology and Development in Rural Devon, 16-8, Fig 2 (Monograph). SDV217976.

Detailed discussion of documentary sources and field evidence for deserted medieval village and park.

Austin, D., 1978, Excavations in Okehampton Deerpark, Devon, 193 (Article in Serial). SDV217971.

The farmstead groups are connected to each other by trackways which run between heavily embanked fields; a polyfocal settlement.

Austin, D. + Daggett, R. H. + Walker, M. J. C., 1980, Farms and fields in Okehampton Park, 39-58 (Article in Serial). SDV324998.

There are ten abandoned sites within the area of the park, of which three are later than the creation of deerpark. The other seven are probably contemporary, the excavated example having 13th century occupation. Associated with these farmsteads is a system of fields and trackways.

DCC, 1982, 538/20 (Photograph). SDV217988.

Weston, S., 1983, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983 (Un-published). SDV343247.

Field Monument Warden visit.

DCC, 1983, S80/11 (Photograph). SDV217993.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EA, 2a,3-6,6a,7-11,11a,12 (Aerial Photograph). SDV215278.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EC, 10a (Aerial Photograph). SDV217997.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/ED, 1-3 (Aerial Photograph). SDV215279.

Photograph taken on 5th March 1986.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EE, 5-11a (Aerial Photograph). SDV217999.

Photograph taken on 5th March 1986.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EK, 7-12 (Aerial Photograph). SDV215280.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EL, 1-2 (Aerial Photograph). SDV215281.

Photograph taken on 5th March 1986.

Austin, D., 1985, Dartmoor and the Upland Village of the South West, 71-9 (Article in Monograph). SDV217979.

Austin discusses the interpretation of these sites.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/GK, 7a-11 (Aerial Photograph). SDV215282.

Griffith, F. M., 1987, DAP/HU, 6-9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV218009.

Griffith, F. M., 1988, DAP/KC, 9-12 (Aerial Photograph). SDV218010.

Pattison, P., 1992, Okehampton Deserted Medieval Settlements (Report - Survey). SDV217981.

Surveyed by Royal Commission for Historic Monuments in Jan-Feb 1992, at 1:2500. Seven sites, containing together the remains of 35 long houses, with numerous enclosures and traces of sunken trackways, lie less than one mile of the remains of a chapel on the slopes overlooking okehampton from the southwest. The sites lie roughly along a northeast to southwest axis and parallel to the main trackway which passes through the chapel site. Subsidiary tracks, lost in places, connect the sites to each other and the main track. There are numerous springs in the vicinity. As the visible remains of the deserted sites are of stone, occupation in the 13th century, at least, is probable with a distinct possibility of a Saxon origin.

Probert, S. A. J., 2004, Okehampton Castle and Park, West Devon: Survey Report (Report - Survey). SDV324949.

Detailed report of the nine settlements in Okehampton Park, including scale plans.

English Heritage, 2005, Medieval Survey Information (Report - Survey). SDV345602.

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

Okehampton deserted Medieval settlements an interlinked range of 10 sites.

Catlin, K., 2014, Transhumance to Farmstead: Landscape and the Medieval Resettlement of Dartmoor, 6-7 (Article in Serial). SDV361730.

Inclusion of the series of settlements at Okehampton Park as an example of a group of medieval transhumance sites that became permanently settled as a source of wealth to the burgeoning medieval political economy during the first half of the 13th century. The permanent tenant farmers who occupied these sites were likely to have acted as middlemen for the Earl of Devon, who controlled the nearby Okehampton Castle at the time, funnelling cattle onto the moor and also further support the manor through agricultural activities.
The relatively short period of occupation of these sites (less than 100 years), before the land was reclaimed by the Earl for use as a deer park (around 1300) is suggested to indicate the lack of understanding of the landscape by the owner and is contrasted with the 300 year occupation of the Hound Tor site.

National Monument Record, 2016, Pastscape, 440846, SX59SE2 (Website). SDV359354.

The remains of deserted settlement and a chapel within a former deer park. The sites contain evidence of approximately 35 long houses with numerous enclosures and traces of sunken trackway. The remains of the buildings are mainly visible as earth banks measuring up to 0.5 metres high. There are also patches of dressed stone. Small medieval fields with trackways are traceable throughout the area and some contain ridge and furrow.
The foundations of 6 groups of longhouses with ancillary buildings which have been identified may not be exhaustive since others could be concealed in the dense furze which covers part of Okehampton Park.
Site 52: The Chapel. The ruins of the south and west wings, each about 22 feet long by 19 feet wide, lie within substantial enclosure-banks. Several dressed stones lying within the ruins appearto be parts of a window or door.
Site 53: The remains of at least eleven long-houses in three groups and the confused remains of enclosure walls half hidden in the bracken.
Site 54: Three buildings, the largest 63 feet by 14 feet, lie south of the Chapel near a spring.
Site 55: Six houses, five on the south side of a trackway and one on the north. A spring lies to the north-east.
Site 56: Two long-houses parallel to each other with a circular pound at the north end of one. A stream runs west of the site and sunken tracks lead south to the moor.
Site 57: Two buildings with enclosures, one with remains of a chimney, the other possibly a barn. The ruins appear to be of a late date but the enclosures might be older.
Site 58: Three buildings lie close together and parts of a fourth and larger building lie to the east. There are traces of crofts but the ground has been disturbed possibly by mining.
Site 59: Seven long-houses in two groups 21 feet apart. Some have been used as a dump for stones from recent field-clearance, and three are hidden in a spinney. A spring runs through the site, and there are traces of a sunken track, an oval pound and remains of enclosures and crofts.
For the most part the buildings now appear as banks of stone and earth up to 0.5 metres high. A few are cut back into a local slope but the majority occur on level ground.
Small Medieval fields with attendant trackways are traceable throughout the area, approximately 50 hectares. Some of the fields show evidence of rigg and furrow ploughing.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV215278Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EA. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2a,3-6,6a,7-11,11a,12.
SDV215279Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/ED. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-3.
SDV215280Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EK. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7-12.
SDV215281Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EL. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-2.
SDV215282Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/GK. Devon Aerial Photograph. 7a-11.
SDV217971Article in Serial: Austin, D.. 1978. Excavations in Okehampton Deerpark, Devon. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 36. Unknown. 193.
SDV217976Monograph: Balkwill, C. J.. 1977. Archaeology and Development in Rural Devon. Archaeology and Development in Rural Devon. DCRA Publication No. 2. Unknown. 16-8, Fig 2.
SDV217979Article in Monograph: Austin, D.. 1985. Dartmoor and the Upland Village of the South West. Medieval Villages. 5. Unknown. 71-9.
SDV217981Report - Survey: Pattison, P.. 1992. Okehampton Deserted Medieval Settlements. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey.
SDV217984Aerial Photograph: Cartographical Services. 1972. 320/253406-411. Aerial Photograph.
SDV217985Aerial Photograph: Cartographical Services. 1973. 384/5397. Aerial Photograph.
SDV217988Photograph: DCC. 1982. 538/20. Conservation Section Photograph Collection.
SDV217992Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1965. Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 97. A5 Hardback. 174.
SDV217993Photograph: DCC. 1983. S80/11. Conservation Section Photograph Collection.
SDV217995Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF/3G TUD UK 138. Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 5358-5359.
SDV217997Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EC. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 10a.
SDV217999Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EE. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 5-11a.
SDV218002Article in Serial: Houston. 1966. Okehampton Settlements. Medieval Archaeology. 10. 125-31.
SDV218003Monograph: Quinnell, O. S. 1971. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales. Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales. 329.
SDV218009Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1987. DAP/HU. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 6-9.
SDV218010Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1988. DAP/KC. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 9-12.
SDV307246Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1966. Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Digital. 125.
SDV324949Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J.. 2004. Okehampton Castle and Park, West Devon: Survey Report. English Heritage Report. AI/03/2004. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV324998Article in Serial: Austin, D. + Daggett, R. H. + Walker, M. J. C.. 1980. Farms and fields in Okehampton Park. Landscape History. 2. Unknown. 39-58.
SDV325006Report - Survey: Balkwill, C. J.. 1976. Quarries. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Rural Survey. 4-17.
SDV341346Report - Survey: Timms, S. C.. 1976. The Devon Urban Survey, 1976. First Draft. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Report. A4 Unbound + Digital. 157, 159, 163.
SDV343247Un-published: Weston, S.. 1983. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1983. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Unknown.
SDV345602Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005. Medieval Survey Information. English Heritage Report. Digital. [Mapped feature: #93098 ]
SDV352501Un-published: White, P.. 2013. Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads. Excel Spreadsheet. Okehampton DMS.
SDV359354Website: National Monument Record. 2016. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. 440846, SX59SE2.
SDV361730Article in Serial: Catlin, K.. 2014. Transhumance to Farmstead: Landscape and the Medieval Resettlement of Dartmoor. Annual Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology. 47th. Digital. 6-7.

Associated Monuments

MDV14212Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Linehan Site 53a & b), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14218Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Linehan Site 54), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV30507Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 112), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14211Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 52), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV21000Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 53c), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14213Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 55), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14214Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 56), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14215Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 57), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14216Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 58), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV14217Parent of: Deserted Medieval Settlement (Site 59), Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV21001Parent of: Hollow way, Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV30506Parent of: Medieval Farmstead in Okehampton Park, Okehampton Hamlets (Monument)
MDV20315Parent of: Medieval Field System, Okehampton Park (Monument)
MDV4808Parent of: Site of a Chapel in Okehampton Park, Okehampton Hamlets (Building)
MDV7650Parent of: Two Medieval Longhouses in Okehampton Park, Okehampton Hamlets (Building)
MDV7414Related to: Deserted Medieval Settlement at Hound Tor (Monument)
MDV71405Related to: Kigbeare, Old Town Mead (Monument)
MDV18818Related to: Manor of Okehampton (Monument)
MDV20451Related to: Medieval Settlement around Okehampton Castle (Monument)
MDV14326Related to: Okehampton Castle (Building)
MDV14219Related to: Okehampton Deer Park. Okehampton Hamlets (Park/Garden)
MDV108833Related to: Remains of Medieval Building in Okehampton Park (Building)
MDV5585Related to: Trackway from Fatherford to Meldon, Okehampton Hamlets (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV3485 - Quarries
  • EDV3486 - SX59SE 2
  • EDV3487 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3488 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3490 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3491 - 320/253406-411
  • EDV3492 - 384/5397
  • EDV3493 - 538/20
  • EDV3494 - S80/11
  • EDV3495 - DAP/EA
  • EDV3496 - DAP/EE
  • EDV3497 - DAP/EK
  • EDV3498 - DAP/GK
  • EDV3499 - Unnamed Event
  • EDV3500 - DAP/HU
  • EDV3501 - DAP/KC
  • EDV3474 - Earthwork survey of Okehampton Castle and Park

Date Last Edited:Aug 31 2018 10:27AM