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HER Number:MDV6010
Name:Extensive medieval field system on Challacombe Down, North Bovey and Manaton


Extensive area of medieval fields comprising strip lynchets arranged end to end in furlong blocks parallel to the contours or up and down the slope.


Grid Reference:SX 693 797
Map Sheet:SX67NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishManaton
Civil ParishNorth Bovey
Civil ParishWidecombe in the Moor
Ecclesiastical ParishMANATON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX67NE4
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 442451
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67NE/33
  • Old SAM County Ref: 518

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

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

Strip fields shown on 19th century map.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

strip fields shown on early 20th century map.

Shorter, A. H., 1938, Ancient Fields in Manaton Parish, 183-9 (Article in Serial). SDV289514.

Field system with a number of parallel terraces following the contours of the valley side, consisting of banks or heaps of stone behind which soil was placed to make level parts. The banks (of different sizes) were made of both small rocks and huge blocks of granite. Most terraces are arranged in interlocking sets, and pre-date tin gullies. The) balks, ie banks, of stone and earth 0.9 to 1.8 metres wide and 0.3 metres high running up and down slope. Field walls of two types, drystone, enclosing recently cultivated fields, and broken down, separating the 'sets' of terraces. Those around SX693820 probably post-date the terraces.

Royal Air Force, 1950, RAF/541/540, 3146-7 (Aerial Photograph). SDV285230.

Photograph taken on 1st June 1950.

Cambridge University, 1952, CUC/HR, 84-9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV343547.

Photograph taken on 23rd June 1952.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card, 1953, SX67NE4, SX67NE4 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV290730.

Visited on 27th April 1953.

Bowen, R. H., 1961, Ancient Fields, 41 (Monograph). SDV290733.

No trace of lynchets close to Challacombe farm, but traces of field banks to the south. A notable but rare exception to the normal type of medieval lynchet.

Anon, 1963, Strip Field at Challacombe (Article in Serial). SDV290731.

Failure to prevent ploughing of 10 acres of the strip lynchets reported.

Cambridge University, 1966, CUC/ANM, 38-42 (Aerial Photograph). SDV62341.

ANM 42 in parish file.

Gawne, E., 1970, Field Patterns in Widecombe Parish and the Forest of Dartmoor, 56, 58-9,62, Figure 4 (Article in Serial). SDV238056.

On the west (steeper) valley side the lynchets are large and divided by downhill strips. 18th century survey shows division into blocks of strips called "wares". Probably a small permanent infield and shifting cultivation of an outfield, the infield being enclosed by 1842.

Bonney, D. J., 1971, Former Farms and Fields at Challacombe, Manaton, 83-91 (Article in Monograph). SDV289513.

Mainly enclosed by 1840 but holdings still scattered.

Griffith, F. M., 1982, Strip Fields (Worksheet). SDV339543.

Visited on 27th December 1982. Lynchets show as very substantial earthworks. On upper part of west side of hill are vestiges of narrow strip fields running downhill across the contours parallel to the boundaries. Judging by the boundaries this upper area has been subjected to conventional cultivation.

Timms, S., 1983, Notes on Lecture given by H. S. A. Fox (Personal Comment). SDV290309.

Courtenay Estate map of the 18th century, which is preserved in Powderham Castle, with a copy in the Devon Record Office, shows open field system in detail.

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

Clearly visible on aerial photograph.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EM, 7a-11a (Aerial Photograph). SDV274678.

Photograph taken on 17th March 1985.

Robinson, R., 1986, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1986 (Un-published). SDV345664.

Visited on 6th March 1986 and 6th August 1986.

Griffith, F., 1988, Devon's Past. An Aerial View, 97 (Monograph). SDV64198.

Area of medieval strip fields farmed from the hamlet of Challacombe.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 16-8, Map 24, Figure 24.1 (Monograph). SDV219155.

Extensive field system on Challacombe Down between 'Redwater Brook' and the 'West Webburn' which developed from at least the 13th century. Some field boundaries are shown between prehistoric Settlements 'A' and 'B' to the east of the 'plantation' at 'Challacombe Down West'.

Dartmoor National Park Authority, 1991, Strip Fields at Challacombe (SMR record). SDV364758.

30th October 1991. A management agreement has been drawn up between Dartmoor National Park Authority and the farmer.

Ordnance Survey, 2022, Mastermap 2022 (Cartographic). SDV364674.

Strip field shown on modern mapping.

Historic England, 2022, National Heritage List for England, 1021393 (National Heritage List for England). SDV364675.

The monument includes a medieval field system, several tinworks, part of a prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, a cairn and length of reave on Challacombe Down. The medieval field system survives as a series of narrow rectangular fields denoted by substantial stone and earth banks. These mostly lie parallel with the contours, but towards the southern and north western edges, the field boundaries lie across the contour. The fields on the steeper slopes are defined by the most substantial boundaries known as lynchets. The fields were built during the medieval period by the farmers at the nearby hamlet of Challacombe. Each field was farmed separately and the individual farmers held fields throughout the area. Traces of ridge and furrow within many of the fields indicates that they were cultivated, although in others the large amounts of surface stone suggests that they could only ever have been used for grazing. An open-field system of terraced strip lynchets arranged in furlong blocks, some now destroyed by enclosure. Length of strips 119 to 274 etres, treads 7.3 to 27.4 metres wide. On west valley side lynchets are overlain in part by a "narrow rig" system possibly of late 18th/early 19th century date; the furlongs are here divided by low grassy banks. Survey of 1787 suggests open field at Challacombe of intermixed holdings with some enclosures.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV219155Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 16-8, Map 24, Figure 24.1.
SDV238056Article in Serial: Gawne, E.. 1970. Field Patterns in Widecombe Parish and the Forest of Dartmoor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 102. A5 Hardback. 56, 58-9,62, Figure 4.
SDV274678Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EM. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7a-11a.
SDV285230Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1950. RAF/541/540. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 3146-7.
SDV289513Article in Monograph: Bonney, D. J.. 1971. Former Farms and Fields at Challacombe, Manaton. Exeter Essays in Geography. 83-91.
SDV289514Article in Serial: Shorter, A. H.. 1938. Ancient Fields in Manaton Parish. Antiquity. 12. 183-9.
SDV290309Personal Comment: Timms, S.. 1983. Notes on Lecture given by H. S. A. Fox.
SDV290730Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. 1953. SX67NE4. OSAD Card. Card Index. SX67NE4.
SDV290731Article in Serial: Anon. 1963. Strip Field at Challacombe. DAS Newsletter No 5. 5.
SDV290733Monograph: Bowen, R. H.. 1961. Ancient Fields. 41.
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.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV339543Worksheet: Griffith, F. M.. 1982. Strip Fields. Worksheet.
SDV343547Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1952. CUC/HR. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 84-9.
SDV345664Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1986. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1986. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV364674Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2022. Mastermap 2022. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #135236 ]
SDV364675National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2022. National Heritage List for England. Digital. 1021393.
SDV62341Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University. 1966. CUC/ANM. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 38-42.
SDV64198Monograph: Griffith, F.. 1988. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Devon's Past. An Aerial View. Paperback Volume. 97.

Associated Monuments

MDV6700Related to: Agglomerated perhistoric enclosure on Challacombe Down, Manaton (Monument)
MDV6059Related to: Challacombe Medieval Settlement, Manaton (Monument)
MDV132389Related to: Hut circle within agglomerated settlement on Challacombe Down, Manaton (Monument)
MDV132390Related to: Hut circle within agglomerated settlement on Challacombe Down, Manaton (Monument)
MDV132391Related to: Hut circle within agglomerated settlement on Challacombe Down, Manaton (Monument)
MDV106853Related to: Leat in Redwater Valley, above Challacombe (Monument)
MDV106854Related to: Leats in Redwater Valley, above Challacombe (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8658 - Challacombe, Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV6476 - Survey of the Redwater wheel pit and buddles
  • EDV7139 - Headland Warren and the Birch Tor and Vitifer Mines Survey (Ref: A1/20/2001, A1/34/2002)
  • EDV7390 - Archaeological condition survey in Soussons Woods
  • EDV7402 - Archaeological condition survey in Soussons Woods
  • EDV7421 - Archaeological condition survey in Soussons Woods
  • EDV7431 - Woodland Survey (1989-90) at Bellever, Soussons and other woodland parcels
  • EDV8175 - Test pitting at Challacombe
  • EDV8479 - Excavation of hut circle, Challacombe

Date Last Edited:Mar 9 2022 10:35AM