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HER Number:MDV6703
Name:Assycombe Farmstead east of Assycombe Brook, Dartmoor Forest


Deserted medieval and post-medieval farmstead. There are two ruinous rectangular buildings with a field system. Three prehistoric hut circles, SX 68 SE 2 and 91, have been reused as agricultural buildings. Assycombe or Assacombe farmstead shown on 19th century maps and mentioned in the 15th century.


Grid Reference:SX 659 827
Map Sheet:SX68SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX68SE67
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 443868
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68SE/116
  • Old SAM Ref: 28665

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FARMSTEAD (First mentioned, XV to Early 20th Century - 1401 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))

Full description

Greeves, T., 13/05/1983, Assycombe (Worksheet). SDV244668.

Site visit 13th May 1983. One small sherd of late 13th-14th century pottery was recovered from the ruins of the farmhouse in a partially collapsed wall. This site is not documented until the late 15th century and the longhouse site to the south is expected to be the earliest dwelling.

Devon County Council, 1838-1848, Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848 (Cartographic). SDV349431.

'Asacombe' marked as an L-shaped occupied dwelling (plot 409).

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

Ruined farmstead depicted but not named.

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

Ruined farmstead marked as Assycombe.

Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M., 1931, The Place-Names of Devon: Part One, 198 (Monograph). SDV1312.

Assycombe is mentioned as 'Assecomb' in a document of 1488.

Royal Air Force, 1961, 58/4424, F44.120 (Aerial Photograph). SDV280247.

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

Three or four buildings survive in extensive enclosures with hut circles.

Linehan, C. D., 1966, Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, 125 (Article in Serial). SDV307246.

SX 659827. Deserted settlement (Medieval or later) at Assycombe, with four buildings and associated enclosures. Evidence of late development. (Two ruined buildings are shown on OS 6" 1963, at SX 65918279 and SX 65918263. Site now covered by Fernworthy Forest).

Haynes, R. G., 1966-1969, Ruined Sites on Dartmoor, 1 (Un-published). SDV150434.

Site visit 14th June 1966. A small building of three rooms and enclosures in thick forest. The building is in ruins and difficult to plan being thickly covered in moss and pine needles. One of the three rooms has a number of granite orthostats, some fallen, which may indicate a linhay. Water was brought past the main buildings by a stone-lined channel, now dry. Many fields among the trees and a few hut circles. About 200 yards south fo the main farm buildings are the ruined remains of a small house. A short piece of wall only stands, the remainder of the house being in the form of a despressin in the surface, possibly a room with another attached at rightangles. This additonal room appears to have a fireplace of huge stones, one of which has been dressed to take a horizontal. A portion of a hut circle occurs at the rightangle turn of an attached field wall.

Cocks, J. V. S., 1974-1977, Fernworthy, Dartmoor, 205-6 (Article in Serial). SDV258202.

Assycombe Farm was abandoned in 1847. It probably dated from the early 18th century. Ruins of what may be the original longhouse survive.

Turner, J. R., 1976, Ancient Monuments on Forestry Commission Land. Fernworthy and Bellever (Report - non-specific). SDV351823.

Fernworthy Plantation. Assacombe. Site 3C. The ruined farmhouse of Assacombe is at SX 65928280, the Medieval long house is at SX 65918263.
Not included in 1955 Spooner and Dixon report.

Turner, J., 1978, Report of Work Carried Out by the Forestry Commission since January 1976 (Report - non-specific). SDV351816.

All agreements carried out. Number post on south-west side of building.

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

Not visible on 1946 RAF aerial photos due to tree cover.

Greeves, T. A. P., 1987, List of donations to the Plymouth Museum (Un-published). SDV243606.

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., 144157 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

Site visit 29th April 1997. Longhouse at SX65918263. Drystone building with a large number of orthostates standing up to 2.0 metres high. Three roomed structure associated with a number of small yards.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 157, Map 35, Site 5 (Monograph). SDV219155.

Buildings and field system shown at 'Assycombe Brook settlement'.

Smith, N., 1992, Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology with Woodland Areas 1992 (Un-published). SDV351819.

Fernworthy Assycombe. Site 3C. Farmhouse. Site visit 27th May 1992. Site marked, under grass. Building needs consolidating.

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

(03/06/1995) Centred SX 659827. The remains of Assycombe farmhouse and its associated fields lies on the moderate W-facing slope above the right bank of the Assycombe Brook within what is now Fernworthy Forest.
The building remains consist of two ruinous rectangular structures at SX 65198280 and SX 65928263 and three prehistoric hut circles (SX 68 SE 2 and 91). Both of the rectangular buildings and all of the field system have been overplanted though much of the area has been clear felled and it is now maintained as an open area by the Forestry Commission.
The building at SX 65198280 is fairly well defined and survives as a two-roomed structure built across the contours within a small enclosure. Both rooms, measuring about 4.0m square, possess entrances and the upper, E, room has the remains of a fireplace in the E end. It is unclear whether the rooms were connected and there is no evidence for stairs or an upper storey. The coursed boulder walls of this building measure, on average, 0.6m wide and survive to a maximum height of 1.2m. 170m to the S at SX 65928263 are the poorly preserved remains of the second building. This appears to have been of roughly similar form though there is little remaining of the cross wall and W end. The turf-covered boulder walls only attain a maximum height of 0.7m where best preserved on the N side. Two uprights for a fireplace are visible in the E end and overall the interior of the structure measures 8.1m E to W by 3.4m. A small yard or third room is situated immediately S of the structure. Neither building seems to be large enough to be or lie on the site of a longhouse and neither possesses the evidence for a cross-passage.
Three of the prehistoric hut circles in the immediate area have apparently been reused as farm outbuildings. Their constructed boulder and slab walls have been built up with a capping of loosely piled stones and boulders. The method of roofing is unknown.
A building is depicted at 'Assacombe' on an early 19th century estate map (Duchy of Cornwall 1807) and was apparently in use at that time. It also appears on an undated though probably later map (Duchy of Cornwall undated). On this some of the field boundaries at the S end of the farm are annotated as having been removed to provide stone for a newtake wall, the former fields have returned to common.

Dartmoor National Park Authority, 1996, Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology within Woodland Areas 1996 (Un-published). SDV351820.

Fernworthy. Assycombe Group. Site 3C. Site visit 27th September 1996. Site clear of trees and the interior of the farmhouse has been strimmed but it is surrounded by thick vegetation. Site not marked.

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

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

Site of the lost farm buildings of 'Assycombe'.

Newman, P., 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon, 43-48, Figs 32-40 (Report - Survey). SDV351784.

The placename is first documented in 1488 and it is possible that a small famstead was established here by that time. This is one of the largest former holdings within the plantation, its enclosures spread as a linear block along the slopes of the Assacombe Brook. The farmstead and courtyard sit broadly in the centre of the block. The famstead and its associated fields are shown on a map of 1796. Today the farm buildings and courtyard together with a short strip of land which includes some ruined enclosure walls, four hut circles and a small rectangular building to the south lie within a clearing but originally the whole site was planted with conifers and the stumps and roots of felled trees are still visible amongst the remains. The outlying fields are largely planted over and survive in various conditions.
Parts of the field layout had their origins in the prehistoric period which were adapted and re-furbished to suit the farmsteads needs. The small enclosures closest to the buildings were maintained until the 19th century and comprise wall banks up to 1.2 metres high. They have been disturbed by forestry activity in places and may also have been the victims of stone robbing in the early 19th century. A photo dated 1894 shows the farmhouse to be a ruin at this time.
The main farmstead comprises a ruined, stone-built rectangular structure with a small courtyard, a single identifiable outbuilding and garden plot. There is also evidence of a water supply in the form of a leat. An entrance to the north of the garden plot gave access to the common. The house is orientated east to west with three separate rooms each having a doorway on the south side; the 1894 photo shows the doorways to have comprised large granite posts and lintels. There was a fireplace against the interior of the eastern wall. The two granite upright posts that formed the lining of the hearth and supported the lintel still survive in situ. The overall internal dimentions of the building are 12.3 metres by 4.4 metres and the walls are circa 0.75 metres thick, with the exception of the eastern fireplace wall which is 1.5 metres thick. The western room is the largest at 5.2 metres long. The other two are both about 3.0 metres long and may have been interconnected.
Just to the south of the house is a small ruined structure built against the wall of the outer yard which measures about 3.1 by 1.7 metres internally. A small L-shaped inner yard is built against the south-east corner of the house. This was cut into the slope and its walls have collapsed in places and attached to the eastern end of the yard at a slightly higher level is a roughly rectangular enclosure, 11.0 metres by 9.0 metres which is likely to have been a garden plot.

Historic England, 2023, National Heritage List for England, 1017981 (National Heritage List for England). SDV365228.

The monument, which falls into three areas, includes a stone alignment, dispersed stone hut circle settlement, medieval long house and post-medieval farmstead situated on a west facing slope overlooking the Assycombe Brook. The post-medieval farmhouse includes a three roomed building with drystone and orthostatic walls standing up to 2 metres high. Surrounding the farmhouse are at least four yards each defined by low drystone walls and beyond these are several small fields.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV1312Monograph: Gover, J. E. B. + Mawer, A. + Stenton, F. M.. 1931. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. The Place-Names of Devon: Part One. VIII. A5 Hardback. 198.
SDV150434Un-published: Haynes, R. G.. 1966-1969. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Manuscript + Digital. 1.
SDV217992Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1965. Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 97. A5 Hardback. 173.
SDV219155Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 157, Map 35, Site 5.
SDV243606Un-published: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1987. List of donations to the Plymouth Museum. Unknown.
SDV244668Worksheet: Greeves, T.. 13/05/1983. Assycombe. Digital.
SDV258202Article in Serial: Cocks, J. V. S.. 1974-1977. Fernworthy, Dartmoor. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 33. Unknown. 205-6.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. 144157.
SDV280247Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1961. 58/4424. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). F44.120.
SDV307246Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1966. Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Digital. 125.
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). [Mapped feature: #98350 ]
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.
SDV349431Cartographic: Devon County Council. 1838-1848. Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Map. Digital.
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. 43-48, Figs 32-40.
SDV351816Report - non-specific: Turner, J.. 1978. Report of Work Carried Out by the Forestry Commission since January 1976. A4 Stapled.
SDV351819Un-published: Smith, N.. 1992. Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology with Woodland Areas 1992. Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology with Woodland Areas. A4 Ring Bound.
SDV351820Un-published: Dartmoor National Park Authority. 1996. Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology within Woodland Areas 1996. Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology within Woodland Areas. A4 Ring Bound.
SDV351823Report - non-specific: Turner, J. R.. 1976. Ancient Monuments on Forestry Commission Land. Fernworthy and Bellever. Dartmoor National Park Authority Field Report. Digital.
SDV352501Un-published: White, P.. 2013. Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads. Excel Spreadsheet. Assycombe.
SDV365228National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2023. National Heritage List for England. Digital. 1017981.

Associated Monuments

MDV6568Parent of: Building 170 metres south of Assycombe Farmhouse, Dartmoor Forest (Building)
MDV58435Parent of: Hut Circle at northern end of Assycombe Brook settlement, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV14807Related to: Assycombe Brook Settlement on the east side of the brook, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV58433Related to: Field system at Assycombe Brook, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV6566Related to: Hut Circle within Assycombe Brook settlement, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV104641Related to: Leat to Assycombe Farm, Fernworthy (Monument)
MDV107140Related to: Tinworkings at Assacombe, Fernworthy (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV3990 - POT (XIII to XIV - 1201 AD to 1400 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV6216 - Condition Surveys of Ancient Monuments on Forestry Commission Land
  • EDV6203 - Archaeological Survey of Fernworthy Forest
  • EDV7389 - Fernworthy Forest condition survey 1996
  • EDV7410 - Fernworthy Forest condition survey 1992
  • EDV8409 - Dartmoor Royal Forest Project

Date Last Edited:Feb 28 2023 10:20AM