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HER Number:MDV6651
Name:Higher Lowton Farm in Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor Forest


Higher Lowton Farm is first documented in 1733 and was ruinous by 1825. Despite afforestation the remains of two attached buildings with a small yard to the south survive.


Grid Reference:SX 664 833
Map Sheet:SX68SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 443839
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: SX68SE43
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68SE/79

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FARMHOUSE (Built, Post Medieval to XVIII - 1540 AD (Between) to 1800 AD (Between))
  • FARMSTEAD (Built, Post Medieval to XVIII - 1540 AD (Between) to 1800 AD (Between))

Full description

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

Farmstead shown on 19th century map as a rectangular building with an internal division at the ast end in a square yard with a small square building in the south-east corner. The buildings are in a sub-oval enclosure on the east side of Lowton Brook.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1950, SX68SE43 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV256560.

(24/06/1950) SX 6645 8340 Ruins of a farmhouse noted by Worth - not old enough to be considered for recording (Worth, R. H., 07/12/1948).

Cocks, J. V. S., 1974-1977, Fernworthy, Dartmoor, 205-206 (Article in Serial). SDV258202.

Probably the site of Lowton, built in the 17th or early 18th century. Abandoned and ruined.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, Map 35 (Monograph). SDV219155.

Small building shown within a sub-oval enclosure on the east side of the Lowton Brook.

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1993-1998, Dartmoor Royal Forest Project, S. Probert (Report - Survey). SDV346608.

(03/06/1995) SX 66458340. The building described by Worth (1948) is no longer visible on the moderate W facing slope above the right bank of Lowton Brook. The area described by the NGR lies in a dense plantation of young conifers and no walls or other remains are apparent. It seems likely that the structure has been completely effaced by forestry activity.
This was formerly the site of Higher Lowton House, a farmhouse set at the centre of a cluster of small irregular fields. The house is described as ruinous on what appears to be a late 18th or early 19th century map (Duchy of Cornwall undated 'Map of the Estate called Fernworthy, Higher and Lower Lowton, Silkhouse and Assacombe The Property of Sir Humphrey P Davie').

Newman, P., 2013, Fernworthy Forest Sites Survey (Un-published). SDV351708.

Newman, P., 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon, 38-41, 51-2 Figs 32, 43-45 (Report - Survey). SDV351784.

The earliest documentary reference is in 1733. The farmstead shown on a map of 1796. The buildings were probably still inhabited at this time although the colour used to delineate the fields indicates that its land had been taken over by Fernworthy Farm. By 1825, however, it was in ruins, being described as such in a catalogue attached to a map of about that date. It also appears that stones from many of its fields walls were robbed when the 'outbound' wall of the large Fernworthy enclosure was built circa 1800 and that the fields affected were absorbed into the new enclosure. The holding was very small, about 7.7 hectares. The surviving field walls are mostly substantial wall banks.
The main buildings survive beside a major plantation route although they were overplanted many years ago. Their rediscovery as a result of this survey has led to some felling to expose the remains although the site is still too overgrown to enable a full survey. Two adjoining ruined rectangular structures can be identified as shown on the 1796 map, the western building about 9.5 metres by 3.7 metres internally and the eastern building about 4.0 metres by 3.5 metres. No evidence of a fireplace or entrance was visible at the time of the investigation. A third building has been destroyed by the growth of a very large conifer. Another rectangular building attached to the outer eastern boundary of the enclosure is almost certainly later than the farmstead.

Newman, P., 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Supplement. The Lakeside Area and Lowton Farmsteads, 18-21, 28, Figs. 20-22, 28 (Report - Survey). SDV356884.

Despite the fact that the area has been extensively planted with conifers earlier work by Newman revealed that remains of the farmstead still survive. This report details the results of the measured survey undertaken of Higher Lowton following vegetation clearance. The farmstead is shown on a map of 1796 as a rectangular building with an entrance on the south side, with a smaller structure attached at the eastern end and a third extension at the far eastern end. There are yards to the south and west. Access to the farm was via a track from the east. The site is shown as ruinous on the 1886 Ordnance Survey map where the house is shown as an elongated building with a square chamber at one end.
The footprints of two attached rectangular structures survive, probably the first two buildings cited above. The location of the third is now occupied by a very large spruce tree. A stone wall representing the yard to the south also survives in places. The western structure (A) survives as earthwork banks enclosing an internal area of about 8.8 by 4.3 metres, the walls being about 0.8-0.9 metres thick. The position of the entrance has not survived but was likely to have been on the south side facing the yard [as shown on the 1796 map]. There is evidence of a probable fireplace at the eastern end where one flat slab remains upright. The second building (B) has more stone walling surviving in situ. The internal dimensions are 4.4 by 3.8 metres with walls about 0.8 metres thick. The entrance was probably in the south-eastern corner. The survey showed that the southern wall of building B projected slightly forward from that of building A.
Although some site clearance was undertaken prior to this survey more work is needed to maintain the stability of the site. It is also suggested that the site be included in future interpretation schemes.

Ordnance Survey, 2014, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV355681.

Rectangular building shown on modern mapping with part of a yard wall to the south.

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. Map 35.
SDV256560Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1950. SX68SE43. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV258202Article in Serial: Cocks, J. V. S.. 1974-1977. Fernworthy, Dartmoor. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 33. Unknown. 205-206.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV346608Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1993-1998. Dartmoor Royal Forest Project. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field/Recording In. Unknown. S. Probert.
SDV351708Un-published: Newman, P.. 2013. Fernworthy Forest Sites Survey. Digital.
SDV351784Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2013. The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Southwest Landscape Investigations. Digital + A4. 38-41, 51-2 Figs 32, 43-45.
SDV355681Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2014. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #98200 ]
SDV356884Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2013. The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Supplement. The Lakeside Area and Lowton Farmsteads. South-West Landscape Investigations. A4 Comb Bound. 18-21, 28, Figs. 20-22, 28.

Associated Monuments

MDV104638Related to: Structure built into Higher Lowton enclosure wall, Fernworthy (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6203 - Archaeological Survey of Fernworthy Forest
  • EDV6533 - Archaeological Survey of South-West Lakeside Trust Land around Fernworthy Reservoir
  • EDV7389 - Fernworthy Forest condition survey 1996
  • EDV7410 - Fernworthy Forest condition survey 1992
  • EDV8409 - Dartmoor Royal Forest Project

Date Last Edited:Feb 26 2023 11:40AM