Melcombe Horsey deserted village


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1002401

Date first listed: 07-Jun-1971


Ordnance survey map of Melcombe Horsey deserted village
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Melcombe Horsey

National Grid Reference: ST 74859 02516


Deserted medieval village of Melcombe Horsey.

Reasons for Designation

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time. Despite past quarrying activity and the construction of tracks the deserted medieval village of Melcombe Horsey survives well as earthworks and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, agricultural practices, trade, social and economic conditions, trade, decline, domestic arrangements, abandonment and overall landscape context.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 February 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes a deserted medieval village situated in the wide valley of a tributary to the Devil’s Brook. The settlement survives as a series of rectangular cultivation plots defined by banks of up to 0.9m high and partially buried ditches laid out on either side of a hollow way with small rectangular building platforms defined by low banks standing up to 1m wide and 0.2m high to the south and west of the plots. There is also a circular mound measuring up to 9.1m in diameter and 1.2m high. One of the buildings is known to have been a chapel although its exact location was lost before the 18th century. Mentioned in Domesday the village was documented as declining by the 14th century and only nine houses remained by 1662.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: DO 765

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


PastScape 202070

End of official listing