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:


Ordnance survey map of The Widow's Tenement medieval settlement and prehistoric settlement sites, Lundy
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

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 1990s.

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 enclosure. 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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].