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HER Number:MDV6259
Name:Swincombe Cottage, Hexworthy


Also know as Dolly Trebble's Cot. Single room cottage approximately 3.9 by 5.2 metres with lean-to and small enclosure, within a much larger field system. Still occupied by a forester employed by the Duchy of Cornwall at Brimpts in 1903. Originally thought to be later Medieval, this is likely to be 18th or 19th century in date.


Grid Reference:SX 643 725
Map Sheet:SX67SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Structural remains of 18th or 19th century Swincombe Cottage

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX67SW67
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 443438
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67SW/26

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • COTTAGE NON SPECIFIC (Built, XVII to XIX - 1700 AD? (Between) to 1899 AD (Between))

Full description

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV233923.

Des=0s 2"(1802-3)drawing. A single building can be seen at the s end of a wall dividing two small fields (?os).
Vis=classified by os as medieval site (os).

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

Royal Air Force, 1961, RAF/58/4424, F44.179 (Aerial Photograph). SDV288116.

Royal Air Force, 1964, F63/58/6399, 031 (Aerial Photograph). SDV229824.

Linehan, C. D., 1965, Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon, 173 (Article in Serial). SDV217992.

Swincombe Cottage. On opposite side of combe to the Bishop's House. One building showing late development with two small enclosures at 315m OD, length 4.5m, width 3.6m.

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

As TDA (1965 article).

Haynes, R. G., 1966-1969, Ruined Sites on Dartmoor, No. 35 (Un-published). SDV150434.

(25/03/1967) A one room cottage 3.9m x 5.2m with lean to and small enclosure, within a much larger field system. Still occupied by a forester employed by the Duchy at Brimpts in 1903.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1980, SX67SW67 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV233914.

(02/02/1980) At SX64357256, the small drystone building, now in ruins (see ground photograph), has roughly dressed walling 0.6m thick and 1.0m high.
It measures 5.0m by 3.8m internally with an eastern entrance and a fireplace at the north end. The "lean-to" adjoins the north side. The house is not Medieval and cannot be placed in a Medieval context since apart from its surrounding garden or potato plot, all the fields in the locality are typical large C18th or C19th enclosures.
Surveyed at 1:10 000 on MSD and at 1:2500 for AO Records.

Hemery, E., 1983, High Dartmoor, 363-4 (Monograph). SDV249702.

National Monuments Record, 1983, SF2134, 0116 (Aerial Photograph). SDV231262.

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

Visible and recorded as a deserted building (by 1982).

Griffiths, D. M., 1986, Worksheet and sketch plan (Worksheet). SDV233920.

(09/04/1986) Small stone-built house, externally measures 4.5m north-south by 4m east-west, with associated enclosures. Remains of granite fireplace in north wall. Located at SX 64357256.

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1987-1993, Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit, S. Probert or P. Pattison (Report - Survey). SDV350839.

(21/07/1988) According to Hemery the settlement pre-dates 1780 because of the cornditch-type enclosure wall and he cites it as "Dolly Trebbles" house (Hemery, 1983).
Rectangular building in ruinous stale situated on a moderate slope at SX 64357257 in an area of rough pasture and light clitter. The building which overlooks Swincombe to the W is set within a sub-divided enclosure of 0.06ha.
The building measures 4.9m x 3.9m-4.2m internally and has drystone walls of medium and large moorstone lumps, randomly coursed with occasional signs of dressing. Some large slabs are incorporated into the S wall. Wall thickness varies; the W wall is a uniform 0.7m; the S wall tapers E-W from 0.7m to 0.55m; the E wall is an even 0.9m; the N wall has two sections with a slight but clear difference in alignment, with the E end 0.9m wide and the W end 0.7m wide. This thinning on the W side of the building and the alignment difference on the N wall possibly indicates a rebuild. The walls stand 0.3m high on the E, 0.7m on the N and W and up to 1m on the S. The internal faces are the better preserved. A probable entrance gap 1.6m wide exists towards the S end of the E wall.
The interior contains a large amount of rubble, especially towards the S end. Despite this obstruction it is possible to see that the interior is terraced into the slope by cutting into the E and building up on the W; the scarp of the platform can be seen outside the W wall. In the SW corner a rectangular chamber of stone measuring 2.2m x 1.3m externally is almost hidden by rubble fill; it is possibly a cupboard built into the wall angle. Two very large, upright stone slabs stand solidly against the N wall, positioned 1.5m apart and offset from the centre line of the main building axis towards the NW corner. The W stone, which lies against the angular change in the N wall, is 1.25m high, 0.6m wide and 0.25m thick. Both are rectangular in shape and section. Apparently they are the flanking stones of a fireplace (OS drawing, 1803-3)
Against the outer face of the N wall, abutting it, is a compact mass of medium and large moorstone forming a tough, apsidal shape 6.4m x 3.2m overall. Traces of drystone wall survive at the NW corner and boulder edging on the N. There is a slope from the N where it is 1.2m high to the exterior where it is 0.3m high. It has been described as a "lean-lo" and illustrated as a second cell to the building (Haynes sketch). This remains possible but the rubble may also incorporate a chimney stack serving the large fireplace.
A small, sub-circular depression 1.7m x 1.4m and 0.2m deep situated outside the NW corner of the main room is probably the site of a well. This was served by a leat SX67SW187 which approached from the SW. The faint depression of a drain or overflow leads W from the well.
The enclosure in which the building is situated measures c.42 x 15m, the long axis E-W, and is five-sided. A dilapidated stone field wall forms the S side and clearly over-rides the end of the W side. The remainder of the circuit is formed by a turf-covered bank of rounded profile 2-2.5m wide x 0.75m high with traces of an external ditch around the N, W and E sides. The ditch is up to 1m wide x 0.3m deep. Along the E stretch of the N bank is a line of moorstone blocks and slabs set edge-to-edge leaning outwards against the inner face and retaining the bank material. The largest stands 1.1m high. Another bank, 2.6m wide x 0.3-0.7m high runs N-S dividing the enclosure into two parts of approximately equal size. It runs onto the NE corner of the building then turns SE to join the S wall of the enclosure, leaving a triangular "forecourt" outside the entrance to the building.
The site cannot be said to be Medieval. Indeed Linehan records it as a deserted site, probably of C18th or C19th date (Linehan, 1966). Authority (Ordnance Survey?) attributed "Medieval" to it. There is no record of the site on the OS survey of 1802-3 nor on the Lydford Tithe map of 1840.
It is depicted unroofed in 1886 (OS map).
Haynes quotes Crossing who recorded the building as the home of a Duchy forester called Ned Caunter who still lived there in 1903 (Haynes). However, the cottage "on Gobbett Plain above Hexworthy" is more likely to be the structure at Gobbett Tin Mine, SX 64707281 430m to the NE.
The building is certainly of Post-Medieval type and Linehan is probably correct in a C18th or C19th date (1966). It is probably the cottage of a moorland worker. The enclosures are of different constructional form and could be earlier: taken with evidence for a rebuilding of the cottage, this might suggest more than one period of use.
Three GP's taken. (See SX 67 SW 45 for illustration).

Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV150434Un-published: Haynes, R. G.. 1966-1969. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Manuscript + Digital. No. 35.
SDV217992Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1965. Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 97. A5 Hardback. 173.
SDV229824Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1964. F63/58/6399. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 031.
SDV231262Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1983. SF2134. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 0116.
SDV233914Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1980. SX67SW67. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV233920Worksheet: Griffiths, D. M.. 1986. Worksheet and sketch plan. Worksheet. Unknown.
SDV233923Migrated Record:
SDV249702Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1983. High Dartmoor. High Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 363-4.
SDV288116Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1961. RAF/58/4424. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. F44.179.
SDV307246Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1966. Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Digital. 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.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #97063 ]
SDV350839Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1987-1993. Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. Unknown. S. Probert or P. Pattison.

Associated Monuments

MDV6374Related to: Bishop's House Farmstead, Hexworthy (Monument)
MDV26133Related to: Leat running from Deep Swincombe to ruined cottage (Monument)
MDV54463Related to: Route of the Tavistock to Ashburton pack-horse track (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8632 - Sherberton Farm, Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV8409 - Dartmoor Royal Forest Project
  • EDV8423 - Duchy Farms Project

Date Last Edited:Jun 16 2022 9:52AM