Deserted medieval settlement at Ford Waste 170m ENE of East Rook Gate.
Reasons for Designation
Dartmoor is the largest expanse of open moorland in southern Britain and, because of exceptional conditions of preservation, it is also one of the most complete examples of an upland relict landscape in the whole country. The great wealth and diversity of archaeological remains provides direct evidence for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards. The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites, land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains, gives significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time. Over 130 deserted medieval settlements are recorded on Dartmoor. Many are single abandoned farmsteads but the majority are small hamlets containing between two and six farmhouses. Documentary evidence indicates most were established between the 11th and mid-14th centuries. Many were deserted by the close of the medieval period possibly as a result of the Black Death or climatic changes. Deserted medieval settlements are often visible as close groupings of small buildings, each containing a long house, its ancillary buildings and one or more adjacent small plots which served as kitchen gardens or stock pens. Long houses were the dominant type of farmhouse in upland settlements of south-west England. Rectangular in plan, usually with rubble or boulder outer walls, their long axis orientated down slope, the interiors of long houses were divided into two separate functional areas, an upper domestic room and a lower stock byre. The division between the two was usually provided by a cross passage of timber screens or rubble walling running through the long house, linking opposed openings in the long side walls. Ancillary buildings were generally separated from the farmhouse and served as barns, fuel or equipment stores. Despite damage by a later track, the deserted medieval settlement at Ford Waste 170m ENE of East Rook Gate survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, use, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements, abandonment and landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 13 November 2015. 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 settlement situated on the lower south eastern slopes of Rook Tor close to a tributary to the Ford Brook. The settlement survives as two long houses and a rectangular building within an enclosure, with a further circular pound attached to the south west. The enclosure is of irregular shape and forms part of a larger field system connected with the farmstead. Within the enclosure are two long houses. The best preserved is centrally positioned, it is constructed from drystone walls of up to 0.6m wide and 0.6m high and is a two celled rectangular structure with a cross wall. Internally it measures approximately 17m long and 3.5m wide and has an entrance on the south western side through the lower room. The second long house is similarly constructed although its walls are slightly more tumbled and is situated on the western side of the enclosure. Internally, it measures up to 19m long by 5m wide. It is partially cut by a later track which may have utilised the original entrances through the building. A later shelter has been added to the west wall. The third rectangular building is on the eastern side of the enclosure and measures approximately 6m long by 3.5m wide internally defined by walls standing up to 0.3m high. To the south west is a roughly circular pound built from 2.5m wide and 1.3m high walling with an internal diameter of approximately 7.7m, which has a medieval appearance, although the dimensions suggest this may be a re-used prehistoric stone hut circle. The name ‘Ford’ is recorded in the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1330 and may refer to this settlement. The settlement lies to the west of a corn ditch which divides it from Penn Moor but this is not included in the scheduling because it has not been formally assessed. A nearby settlement is scheduled separately.