Deserted medieval settlement and post medieval farmstead 995m east of Meldon Farm.
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 known on Dartmoor. Many of these are single abandoned farmsteads but the majority are small hamlets containing between two and six farmhouses. Documentary evidence indicates that most such settlements were established between the 11th and mid-14th centuries. Many of these were deserted by the close of the medieval period, possibly as a result of the Black Death or climatic changes, some where abandoned at a later period. 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. These components are arranged within the settlement around internal yards and trackways which led from the settlement to its associated fields, pasture and water supply. Long houses were the dominant type of farmhouse in upland south-west England. Rectangular in plan, usually with rubble or boulder outer walls and their long axis orientated down slope, the interiors of long houses were divided into two separate functional areas, an upslope domestic room and a downslope stock byre. Ancillary buildings were generally separated from the farmhouse and served as barns, fuel or equipment stores. While many settlements in Devon are known from documentary sources to be of medieval origin, well- preserved deserted sites are rare, those on Dartmoor provide the main surviving source of evidence for the distinctive form and layout of medieval settlements in Devon. Despite some disturbance by later mining activity and the construction of stone field boundaries which robbed some stones, the deserted medieval settlement and post medieval farmstead 995m east of Meldon Farm survives comparatively well with boundary banks and rubble walls achieving a reasonable height. The buildings, banks, structures and enclosed areas will all contain significant archaeological and environmental information concerning the construction, use, occupation, development, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements, abandonment and landscape context of the settlement.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 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 which falls into two areas includes a deserted medieval settlement and post medieval farmstead situated on the lower northern slopes of Black Down. The deserted medieval settlement lies to the south and survives as up to four long houses aligned north to south with rubble built walls of up to 0.5m high, the long houses vary in size from 10.9m long by 3.7m wide up to 18.3m long by 3.7m wide. These buildings are associated with a number of enclosures and are located close to a hollow way. The post medieval farmstead lies to the north and survives as two rectangular buildings with mortared walls up to 1.3m high one of which has the remains of a chimney which are thought to be a post medieval farmstead on the site of an earlier medieval dwelling. The two buildings are interpreted as a cottage and barn within a small enclosure which may originally have been of medieval date.