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HER Number:MDV56612
Name:Medieval field system surrounding Butworthy


Approximately 30 hectares of abandoned medieval field system associated with two contemporary settlements.


Grid Reference:SX 547 794
Map Sheet:SX57NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishPeter Tavy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishPETER TAVY

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: SX57NW133
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 919078
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NW/236
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FIELD SYSTEM (Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1964, F63/58/6399, 39-40 (Aerial Photograph). SDV229824.

National Monuments Record, 1977, NMR SX5479, 2/237-42 (Aerial Photograph). SDV226229.

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1991, Duchy of Cornwall Enclosed Farmland Project: Archaeological Survey and Evaluation Dartmoor infill areas (Report - Survey). SDV364202.

(11/01/1988) SX 546 792; A large group of redundant fields associated with a medieval/post medieval settlement at Butworthy (see NMR SX 57 NW 62).
1) In the immediate vicinity of the settlement are several fields forming an irregular plan with an overall impression of radiation away from the settlement space. The boundaries are turf-covered stony banks or scarps 1.3 metres to 1.5 metres wide and 0.35 to 0.9 metres high. Only small amounts of stone are visible in the boundaries, except at H which is a boulder line. Today this area is very wet; a spring rises on the north-eastern edge of the settlement and flows north-west, cutting a field boundary at SX 5480 7949 and SX 5475 7952.
2) A sunken trackway set between turf-covered banks 14 to 20 metres apart leads west from the settlement to a large, regular group of fields centred at SX 5460 7920. The north end of these fields occupies level or gently sloping ground rising progressively to the south onto a steep slope forming the north side of White Tor. There are two main elements to the group of fields.
(i) A main block: situated between boundaries I, J, K and L.
(ii) A block of smaller fields situated W of K and L.
In its present state, the field group as a whole (i.e. (i) and (ii).) seems to have a framework of spinal boundaries, I, J, K and L from which transverse boundaries run to make up numerous strip fields. In only one case does the line of a transverse boundary carry on beyond a spinal (point M).
(i) The main block. It consists of parts of three runs of strip fields whose transverse boundaries are either north-facing lynchets containing varying amounts of stone, or stony banks, 1.5 metres to 2.4 metres wide and 0.3 metres to 1.4 metres high. The spinal boundaries; I, J, K and L are predominantly rubble walls, often with edge-set large stones/boulders, or stony banks of larger proportions. In one instance, (north) on the plan, a lynchet may be revetted by a stone wall. The strips vary in length between 102 and 180 metres, becoming progressively longer to the north-east. Width varies between 46 and 67 metres with the exception of a 17 metres wide strip. One of the boundaries of this narrow strip (O) is considerably reduced, probably by ploughing and indicates possibly that the visible strips are the result of amalgamation of narrower plots, now destroyed. All of the strip boundaries have a consistent "aratral curve" with the bow to the north. The fields are extremely well cleared and consolidated. Traces of rig and furrow are visible on aerial photographs (National Monuments Record) and on the ground, notably around SX 5455 7910.
(ii) Smaller strips west of (K) and (L) there is a number of more ephemeral strip fields defined by lines of earth-fast /surface stones often accompanied by slight lynchetting. The best preserved is 1.7 metres wide by 0.6 metres high: generally they are considerably smaller; approximately 0.8 metres wide by 0.25 metres high, running intermittently along the contours. A northern series centred at SX 5455 7925 ranges widely in strip-width whereas a southern series at SX 5450 7915 shows a uniform width of around 20 metres west and so lengths are indeterminate (except for 3 which end against the wall of a prehistoric settlement SX 57 NW 86; these are 66-80 metres long). The northern series fades into an area of uncleared, natural clitter and outcrop and probably were never completed; a cluster of 7 clearance mounds (P) are evidence of the attempt. These mounds are between 2 and 6 metres in diameter and up to 0.9 metres high, composed mainly of small-size stones. There does, however, seem to be a common end point for the boundaries of this northern series; all end at approximately 85 metres as if a terminal boundary was planned but not built. In contrast to group (i) fields, most of the boundaries are straight, not curved.
The relationships of two incoming reaves to the fields is of some interest to the development of the system as a whole. The Great Western Reave (SX 57 NW 14) enters enclosed land at SX 5446 7902 and forms the spinal boundary (I): its course has probably been straightened east of SX 5470 7907. A contour reave (SX 57 NW 85 c) enters enclosed land at SX 5438 7922 and proceeds at least to SX 5455 7915? forming a smaller strip-field boundary on the way, and probably to SX 5463 7916 consequently it is apparent how these prehistoric boundaries in part conditioned the layout of the Medieval fields.
Explanation of the differences between field blocks (i) and (ii) is difficult. One solution may be that block (i) is the area of consolidated strip fields; the area finally worked. This would leave block (ii) as an earlier/contemporary/later episode which was not fully completed.
There are several other features of note within the field system: (Q): a semi-circular arrangement of large, earth-fast stones accompanied by slight, north-east facing scarping, attached to the north-eastern side of a transverse field boundary. Centred at SX 5489 7918. The feature is on a steep slope. Its purpose is uncertain but possibly may have been a small ford or shelter.
Some 11 tin trial/extraction pits can be seen, with a cluster of 8 around SX 5462 7915, each consists of a pit with upcast collars around the sides and downhill edge; there is no spoil upslope. The pits are generally oval or rectangular with rounded ends, the long sides across the contours, varying in overall dimensions (i.e. pit and upcast) between the smallest at 6 by 5.8 metres diameter and the largest 13.5 by 10 metres. The deepest pit is 1.5 metres with upcast 0.9 metres high, the shallowest 0.3 metres with upcast 0.4 metres high. Several are arranged in lines across the contours, in one instance overlapping each other. Some of the pits still have sharply defined sides and so are probably not of great antiquity.
A ruined rectangular building within the field system is SX 57 NW 111.
All recorded features are visible on the aerial photographs. It should be noted that a field system SX 57 NE 34 is also connected with the Butworthy settlements SX 57 NW 61 and 62. See RCHME 1:2500 plan of Cudlipptown Down (citing Pattison, P., 11/01/1988 Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments in England Field Investigation).

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

(25/08/2004) This extensive field system remains as described in 1988. The majority of the remains lie under close-cropped grass and all are in a stable condition.

Newman, P., 2018, Archaeological Sites within Merrivale Training Area, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: A condition survey on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation (Report - Survey). SDV361635.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV226229Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1977. NMR SX5479. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2/237-42.
SDV229824Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1964. F63/58/6399. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 39-40.
SDV346874Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2004. Merrivale Range Baseline Condition Survey. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. Unknown.
SDV361635Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2018. Archaeological Sites within Merrivale Training Area, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: A condition survey on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation. South-west Landscape Investigations. A4 Comb Bound.

Associated Monuments

MDV103572Related to: Cudlipptown Lower Reave (Monument)
MDV4175Related to: Deserted Medieval Site, Higher Butterbury (Monument)
MDV4161Related to: Deserted Medieval Site, Lower Butterbury (Monument)
MDV103571Related to: Field system on north Cudlipptown Down (Monument)
MDV12806Related to: Field system south of Youldon Brook (Monument)
MDV12801Related to: Hut circle settlement on Cudlipptown Down (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
  • EDV8423 - Duchy Farms Project
  • EDV8713 - Merrivale Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey

Date Last Edited:Aug 23 2021 12:22PM