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HER Number:MDV70961
Name:Building 3, Houndtor


This building was referred to by Mrs Minter as the Manor House due to its size and position in a self-contained enclosure with two smaller associated buildings and gardens. One of the largest longhouses at Houndtor, it has the characteristic byre, or shippon with central drain at the lower end for housing animals and hearth in the living area in the upper end, subdivided by two opposing entrances. This building also has a partitioned inner-room in the upper section of the house.


Grid Reference:SX 746 787
Map Sheet:SX77NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishManaton
Ecclesiastical ParishMANATON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77NW/7/4
  • Old SAM County Ref: 601
  • Old SAM Ref Revised: 28786

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LONGHOUSE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Minter, E. M., 1972 - 1973, Eleven Years of Archaeological Work on Dartmoor, 114-117 (Article in Serial). SDV307263.

The manor house was located on the east side of the village and consisted of a large, two-roomed building, which had a thick slab of granite set into the centre of the upper end wall, forming a fireback. A granite hearth was located in front of it with a wattle and daub canopy set over it to carry the smoke from the fire up through the turf roof. The lower end of the chamber served as the kitchen area. During the 13th century the living quarters were divided into two sections, creating a small inner room at the upper end of the house which was at a higher level and entered up two steps from the living area. The fireback remained in the upper room but the hearth and canopy were removed, and replaced with a granite hearth and cooking pit beneath a wattle and daub canopy in the main living room. Repositioning of the entrances to the dwelling extended the kitchen area, which was divided by a partition wall. Finally, in the last period of occupation, the kitchen partition was removed and a central drain was inserted to convert the manor house into a shared occupation longhouse.

Beresford, G., 1979, Three Deserted Medieval Settlements on Dartmoor: a Report on the Late E. Marie Minter's Excavations, 133 (Article in Serial). SDV307264.

Building 3 is described as the manor house, although there is no documentary evidence to support the existence of a manor at the site. However, the location of building 3 and the manner in which it and two associated smaller buildings are enclosed from the rest of the settlement may suggest it had a greater importance. Although slightly damaged by a roughly-cut trench, the remains were well-preserved, with walls standing over 4 foot 6 inches in height. The building measured 57 foot by 16 foot at its lower end and 11 foot internally at the upper end and comprised byre, living room and inner-room. The floors of the both the living room and the inner-room were dug into the hill slope and two steps were inserted to access the inner-room, which was partitioned off from the main living area. The living area included a large central hearth and cooking pit. Evidence indicates that the byre may originally have been divided into two separate compartments by a stone wall but it is not clear whether this are was used to accommodate animals before or after the partition wall was removed. A narrow pathway flanked by 5 foot high walls led from the south-east door through the garden and out into the paddock presumably to assist with the movement of cattle.

Newman, P. + Probert, S. + Riley, H., 1994, Houndtor Down, Manaton, Devon - A New Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England., 4 (Report - Survey). SDV344628.

This is the largest longhouse at Houndtor and has previously been referred to as the manor house, due to the fact that it and the two associated smaller buildings are enclosed by a boundary wall, creating an apparent self-contained farmstead. The longhouse measures 17.3 meters by 4 meters internally, including a small room at the southern end, 3.5 meters by 4 meters which is formed by a cross-wall extending at right angles from the eastern side wall. The floor level of the inner room is 0.5 meters higher than that of the main chamber and is accessed by two surviving stone steps. The larger chamber has two opposing centrally placed entrances in the long walls; the western entrance retains a substantial porch while the eastern entrance leads out to the fields through a narrow sunken passageway. The excavated drainage channel at the lower, northern end of the building is still visible.

Dartmoor National Park + English Heritage, 2002, Houndtor: Deserted Medieval Settlement, 7-11 (Leaflet). SDV295904.

Building 3 is a large longhouse aligned south-west to north-east with opposing central openings in the north and south walls. The coursed stone rubble longhouse measures approximately 17 meters by 5 meters and is situated in the southeast corner of the settlement with enclosed gardens and two smaller associated structures to the west. The building was designed to house both people and animals, with a living area with hearth in the upper (southern) section of the house, and a byre with central drain at the lower end. This longhouse also has a small sub-division at the southwest end and would probably have been a single storey structure under a thatched roof.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

Various, 2018-2019, PALs Condition Recording forms, HT8 (Worksheet). SDV362781.

Visited 30/06/2019. SX74664 78778. Internal measurement for main room only is 13.6 meters. The drainage channel is located at the north eastern end of the building. There is heather, blueberry and a small amount of gorse present. Part of the wall has been damaged by a "letterbox" being sited behind one of the wall rocks being dislodged. There is damage to one part of the wall where people have broken it down by treading across it to access the interior. Overall condition OK. Photos X 4 taken

Various, 2018-2019, PALs Condition Recording photographs, HT8 (Photograph). SDV363073.

Visited 30/06/2019. Photos X 4 taken. 1) north east to south west showing the length of the building with the small room at the end. 2) south west to north east showing the drain 3) north to south showing the steps into the small room 4) showing the letterbox damage in the south east corner of the small room

Sources / Further Reading

SDV295904Leaflet: Dartmoor National Park + English Heritage. 2002. Houndtor: Deserted Medieval Settlement. A5 Stapled. 7-11.
SDV307263Article in Serial: Minter, E. M.. 1972 - 1973. Eleven Years of Archaeological Work on Dartmoor. Transactions of the Torquay Natural History Society. 16. Unknown. 114-117.
SDV307264Article in Serial: Beresford, G.. 1979. Three Deserted Medieval Settlements on Dartmoor: a Report on the Late E. Marie Minter's Excavations. Medieval Archaeology. 23. Unknown. 133.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #99561 ]
SDV344628Report - Survey: Newman, P. + Probert, S. + Riley, H.. 1994. Houndtor Down, Manaton, Devon - A New Survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England.. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. A4 Spiral Bound. 4.
SDV362781Worksheet: Various. 2018-2019. PALs Condition Recording forms. PALs Condition Assessment Project Forms. Digital. HT8.
SDV363073Photograph: Various. 2018-2019. PALs Condition Recording photographs. PALs Condition Assessment Project Forms. Digital. HT8.

Associated Monuments

MDV7414Part of: Deserted Medieval Settlement at Hound Tor (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jul 29 2019 11:55AM