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HER Number:MDV6028
Name:Blackaton Deserted Medieval Settlement, Widecombe in the Moor


One of the largest deserted medieval sites on Dartmoor comprising some 17 buildings and building platforms several of which form distinct groups or farmsteads.


Grid Reference:SX 697 782
Map Sheet:SX67NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishWidecombe in the Moor
Ecclesiastical ParishWIDECOMBE IN THE MOOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX67NE18
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 442464
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67NE/48
  • Old SAM County Ref: 510

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BARN (XIII to XIV - 1201 AD (Between) to 1400 AD (Between))
  • CHAPEL (XIII to XIV - 1201 AD (Between) to 1400 AD (Between))
  • CROFT (XIII to XIV - 1201 AD (Between) to 1400 AD (Between))
  • DESERTED SETTLEMENT (XIII to XIV - 1201 AD (Between) to 1400 AD (Between))
  • LONGHOUSE (XIII to XIV - 1201 AD (Between) to 1400 AD (Between))
  • TOFT (XIII to XIV - 1201 AD (Between) to 1400 AD (Between))

Full description

South West Heritage Trust, 1838-1848, Digitised Tithe Maps and Transcribed Apportionments (Cartographic). SDV359954.

Field No. 2316 named as Blackdown Common on Tithe Map and Apportionment.

Royal Air Force, 1951, 540/483, 3038-3039 (Aerial Photograph). SDV248164.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SX67NE18 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV288285.

Royal Air Force, 1961, 58/4424, 58/4424.F41.0116 (Aerial Photograph). SDV280247.

Deserted Medieval Village Research Group, 1962, 10AR, 4 (Unknown). SDV288293.

Ancient Monuments, 1962, Blackaton Deserted Medieval Village (Schedule Document). SDV288271.

Fine deserted medieval village of about 15 longhouses, 10 with earthworks 0.6 metres - 0.9 metres high. Others are much robbed and are in some places covered by the later houses. Two or three longhouses have been destroyed by a new barn, whose erection revealed the site. 13th century pottery has been collected from the rubble; there is considerable documentation in the pro for a village between the early 13th and 16th centuries. The houses are set in a series of crofts, and a medieval field system survives on the hillside behind.

French, H. + Linehan, C. D., 1963, Abandoned Medieval Sites in Widecombe in the Moor, 169-170, pl.14 (Article in Serial). SDV345196.

The site of Blackaton Deserted medieval village was recognised from aerial photos. The site is bisected by the modern Moretonhampstead-Widecombe road. There are the visible remains of 12 or 13 buildings, some with adjoining crofts, and a possible chapel. A considerable area in the south-east corner of the site has been levelled, and a large covered yard erected. This has probably destroyed the manorhouse with its croft, and at least one other building. The size and construction of the buildings is similar to those at Houndtor. Blackaton Manor is first mentioned in 1229. A tentative occupation date, therefore, is the 12th and 13th centuries.

Royal Air Force, 1964, F62/58/6399, 20-21 (Aerial Photograph). SDV272301.

Linehan, C. D., 1966, Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, 116, Fig. 49 (Article in Serial). SDV307246.

The deserted Medieval village of Blackaton at SX 698783 (Plan 1), first mentioned in 1229. Some house sites, including what might have been the manor house, have been destroyed, but up to thirteen buildings (mainly long houses) are recognisable (Plan 2).
Surrounded by well preserved field system.

Haynes, R. G., 1966-1969, Ruined Sites on Dartmoor, 3, 4 (Un-published). SDV150434.

Group of longhouses and cultivation terraces severely damaged by cowshed and agricultural works.

Beeson, M. M. R. + Masterman, M. C. H., 1979, An Archaeological Survey of Enclosed Land in Widecombe-In-The-Moor Parish, 957 (Report - Survey). SDV337078.

site visit 1st August 1979. Site not obvious from the ground.

Greeves, T., 1982, Blackaton Deserted Medieval Village (Worksheet). SDV288287.

Site visit 16th March 1982. Three sherds of late medieval pottery found in spoil from newly dug drainage trench.

Robinson, R., 1982, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982 (Un-published). SDV345608.

Site visits 5th May 1982 and 21st July 1982 (to west of road only).

Evans, D. M., 1983, Blackaton Deserted Medieval Village (Personal Comment). SDV288289.

Site visit by Department of Environment Inspector 12th January 1983.

The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Unit, 1985, The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV340940.

The 1951 RAF photo shows three longhouses attached together to a bank and a further two longhouses on the other side of the bank. Set within a series of strip fields containing ridge and furrow.

Jamieson, E., 2006, Blackaton Deserted Medieval Settlement, Dartmoor, Devon. Archaeological Survey Report (Report - Survey). SDV351119.

The remains at Blackaton on the lower, west-facing slopes of Blackaton Down represent one of the largest deserted medieval sites on Dartmoor. It is now generally under rough pasture although some areas remain obscured by dense gorse. A modern road passes through the western end of the settlement but map evidence shows that it follows the course of an earlier route. The site lies within an extensive medieval and post-medieval field system which is clearly visible on aerial photographs. The earliest documentary reference is in 1229 and there are subsequent references to the manor in the 13th, 14th and 16th centuries. A reference to ‘ye Commens of Blakadon’ in 1566 suggests that the settlement was deserted by this time. A nearby blowing house also appears to have been out of use by the mid 16th century.
Seventeen buildings and building platforms were recorded, several of which form distinct groups or farmsteads. At least four buildings (5, 8, 9 and 13) can be interpreted as longhouses and it is likely that more may be lost under modern agricultural buildings. Buildings 6, 10, 11 and 15 are single-celled buildings which may be barns. The close relationship between these and the longhouses suggests that they represent the remains of small farmsteads. Small rectilinear platforms recorded close to some of the farmsteads may represent ancillary buildings or animal pens. Taking into account features destroyed by the modern agricultural building there are the remains of at least 6 farmsteads. Evidence suggests that the settlement developed over a period of time, possibly growing from a single holding to a relatively substantial settlement before contraction and eventual abandonment. The earliest phase of settlement appears to be in the lower-lying western edge of the site. Building 12 is one of the best preserved structures on the site which may suggest that it continued in use into the post-medieval period. Its form and location, set slightly apart from the other building remains, within a sub-rectangular enclosure may indicate that it was a corn-drying kiln. It has been previously suggested that it represents the ‘chapel and courtelage’ referred to in an 18th century document. However, it is more likely that the chapel stood nearer to the manor house which documentary evidence suggests was on the other side of the valley, at Blackdown Piper. There is no formal roadway through the settlement, the buildings being loosely linked by a series of trackways.

English Heritage, 2013, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV350785.

Deserted medieval settlement at Blackaton, 340m and 400m north east of Lower Blackaton.
The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a deserted medieval settlement situated on the lower west-facing slope of Blackaton Down. The settlement includes at least eleven separate buildings, three of which are set within or adjacent to small enclosures called crofts. The buildings survive as rectangular earthworks with the occasional protruding stones and most are aligned across the prevailing contour. At least six of the buildings have visible opposed entrances in their long walls and these must represent the remains of longhouses. The smaller buildings may represent the site of barns. A small number of lynchets within the southern part of the monument represent the remnants of a once more extensive strip field system. Modern building works in the vicinity of the monument have revealed substantial quantities of 13th century pottery. Documentation relating to the settlement indeed confirms that there was a settlement here between the 13th and 18th centuries, with the earliest reference being in 1229, at which time it was a manor belonging to the Pipards. In the 16th century the manor was purchased by the Southcott family and in 18th century documentation there is a mention of a chapel with courteledge. The site of this chapel maybe identified with the small building sitting within a square enclosure at NGR SX 69807828. All modern fences and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.
Despite destruction of an outlying part of the deserted medieval settlement at Blackaton, the remaining parts of the settlement survive well and together form a good example of a nucleated Dartmoor settlement. Considerable quantities of archaeological and environmental information relating to medieval life and farming will survive. A comprehensive range of contemporary documentation exists to complement the archaeological and environmental information.

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

Blackaton deserted Medieval farmstead.

Unknown, Unknown, 3038 (Aerial Photograph). SDV288282.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV150434Un-published: Haynes, R. G.. 1966-1969. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Manuscript + Digital. 3, 4.
SDV248164Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1951. 540/483. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3038-3039.
SDV272301Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1964. F62/58/6399. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 20-21.
SDV280247Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1961. 58/4424. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 58/4424.F41.0116.
SDV288271Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1962. Blackaton Deserted Medieval Village. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV288282Aerial Photograph: Unknown. Unknown. 3038. Unknown.
SDV288285Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SX67NE18. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV288287Worksheet: Greeves, T.. 1982. Blackaton Deserted Medieval Village. Worksheet.
SDV288289Personal Comment: Evans, D. M.. 1983. Blackaton Deserted Medieval Village. Not Applicable.
SDV288293Unknown: Deserted Medieval Village Research Group. 1962. 10AR. Unknown. 4.
SDV307246Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1966. Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Digital. 116, Fig. 49.
SDV337078Report - Survey: Beeson, M. M. R. + Masterman, M. C. H.. 1979. An Archaeological Survey of Enclosed Land in Widecombe-In-The-Moor Parish. Devon Committee for Rescue Archaeology Report. Vols I - V. A4 Comb Bound. 957.
SDV340940Interpretation: The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Unit. 1985. The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project. The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project. Map (Paper).
SDV345196Article in Serial: French, H. + Linehan, C. D.. 1963. Abandoned Medieval Sites in Widecombe in the Moor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 95. A5 Hardback. 169-170, pl.14.
SDV345608Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1982. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV350785National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2013. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV351119Report - Survey: Jamieson, E.. 2006. Blackaton Deserted Medieval Settlement, Dartmoor, Devon. Archaeological Survey Report. English Heritage Research Department Report. 24/2006. A4 Stapled + Digital. [Mapped feature: #96554 ]
SDV352501Un-published: White, P.. 2013. Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads. Excel Spreadsheet. Blackaton.
SDV359954Cartographic: South West Heritage Trust. 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Maps and Transcribed Apportionments. Tithe Map and Apportionment. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV6100Related to: Blackdown Piper deserted Medieval site north of Lower Blackaton Farm, Widecombe (Monument)
MDV7414Related to: Deserted Medieval Settlement at Hound Tor (Monument)
MDV5992Related to: Field system on Blackaton Down, Widecombe in the Moor (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6138 - Archaeological Survey of Blackaton Deserted Medieval Village (Ref: 24/2006)

Date Last Edited:Feb 1 2022 10:33AM