The Widow's Tenement medieval settlement and prehistoric settlement sites, Lundy
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1017646 .pdf
The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.
This copy shows the entry on 15-Sep-2019 at 16:57:19.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Torridge (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SS 13517 46828, SS 13784 46634
Reasons for Designation
Lundy is a small, steep sided island in the Bristol Channel, 16m north of
Hartland Point, north Devon. Aligned north-south, it is 6km long by 1km wide
and supports a predominately moorland vegetation. The 100m high cliffs and
tabular form give it a striking appearance, visible in clear weather from
parts of south west England and south Wales.
Lundy's remoteness and (until the 19th century construction of the Beach Road)
its inaccessibility, combined with a lack of shelter and cultivable soils, has
meant that it has escaped more recent occupation or development. It therefore
preserves a remarkable variety of archaeological sites from early prehistory
(c.8000 BC) onwards, representing evidence for habitation, fortification,
farming and industry. There are also archaeological remains in the waters
surrounding the island - over 150 shipwrecks are already recorded. Most of the
island's archaeology is well documented from detailed survey in the 1980s and
Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the extensive south west Peninsula sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, an area climatically, culturally and physically distinct from the rest of England. It includes varying terrains, from the granite uplands, through rolling dissected plateaux to fertile clay lowlands in the east. While nucleated settlements are present, notably in the Devon lowlands and throughout the South Hams, many originated as small towns, and a high proportion may be of later date. Excluding only the moorland masses, the sub-Province is characterised by medium and high densities of dispersed settlements; indeed, some of the former industrial areas had densities as high as any in the country. The medieval settlement known as Widow's Tenement is well preserved with sustantial remains of all elements of the settlement surviving as identifiable features. Earlier remains of a Bronze Age hut circle settlement and burial cairns, as well as lynchets, indicate that Iron Age cultivation survives in the enclosure providing evidence for human activity over 2000 years.
The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a diamond-shaped enclosure
of about 7ha containing medieval farm buildings and enclosures, close to which
is a complex of terraced fields and a medieval longhouse 100m to the south
east, which extends down the slope of the cliff above Threequarterwall Bay.
Within the enclosure are the remains of huts, cairns and associated field
systems of Bronze Age and Iron Age date.
The enclosure known as the Widow's Tenement is defined by a double row of
granite uprights which probably represent a turf bank which is no longer
visible. Within this enclosure, in the middle of its northern half, are
the remains of a medieval longhouse with associated buildings and stock
enclosures, while some traces of interior walls can be found on the western
side. The entire area within the enclosure contains narrow ridge and furrow
representing traces of medieval cultivation. Outside the enclosure on the
northern side there is a small 19th century enclosure and stock pound attached
to the wall.
Other medieval elements of the complex include a rabbit warren on the north
eastern side, intersected by the enclosure wall. Also at the south western
corner is a stone walled annexe measuring about 70m by 40m and a similar
annexe is attached to the north western corner where there was an entrance
way to the settlement. At the eastern corner is a spring which has been
enclosed to form a well with a small building, possibly a well head, above it.
At this point the wall uprights have been splayed to allow the passage of the
water out over the cliff. There are five millstones scattered within the
Across the south eastern end of the enclosure is a substantial bank and ditch
from an earlier field system. Several large terraced field headlands, known as
lynchets, cross the interior and these are generally attributed the Iron Age
period. Close to the southern boundary, at the western end of the bank and
ditch are the remains of a hut circle settlement with two huts and an
enclosing wall. This is similar to Bronze Age settlements elsewhere on Lundy.
This enclosure is partly cut by the bank and ditch and therefore pre-dates its
construction. There are traces of two hut platforms on the north eastern side
of the enclosure about 30m to the north west of the warren. There are five
cairns scattered within the enclosure of which at least two are burial cairns
of the Bronze Age. The status of the others is undetermined.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Gardner, K, Archaeology of Lundy, (1972), 23-24
Langham, A M, Lundy Bristol Channel, (1960), 82
Title: The National Trust new survey of Lundy Source Date: 1996 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing