Medieval settlement of Little Piddle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019410

Date first listed: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Medieval settlement of Little Piddle
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Apr-2019 at 05:24:15.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Piddlehinton

National Grid Reference: SY 71924 96557

Reasons for Designation

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 last 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the West Wessex sub-Province of the Central Province, an area characterised by large numbers of villages and hamlets within countrysides of great local diversity, ranging from flat marshland to hill ridges. Settlements range from large, sprawling villages to tiny hamlets, a range extended by large numbers of scattered dwellings in the extreme east and west of the sub-Province. Cultivation in open townfields was once present, but early enclosure was commonplace. The physical diversity of the landscape was, by the time of Domesday Book in 1086, linked with great variations in the balance of cleared land and woodland. The South Dorset local region is a diverse countryside comprising the South Dorset Downs and narrow limestone ridges and clay vales which curve around the chalk escarpments. Settlement is characterised by low concentrations of scattered farmsteads, and small villages and hamlets: ancient settlements whose arable fields were, on the evidence of Domesday Book, set among substantial tracts of pasture and woodland in the 11th century.

The medieval settlement of Little Piddle survives well as a series of well- preserved earthworks and associated buried remains and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the associated landscape. The settlement remains are further complimented by the presence of well-preserved water meadows within the adjacent area of the valley bottom. Little Piddle forms one of several medieval settlement sites within the Piddle valley and, together, these will provide an insight into the economy of the area throughout the medieval and successive periods.


The monument includes the site of the deserted medieval settlement of Little Piddle, situated on the northern terrace of the River Piddle. The site represents one of several medieval settlements in the Piddle valley which are mentioned in the Domesday Survey. Little Piddle was divided into two manors: the northern example known as Coombe Deveral lay in Piddlehinton, while the southern example was in Puddletown. The two manors remained as distinct land units with separate open-field systems in different parishes until 1885. The settlement, which was surveyed by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1970, survives as a series of earthworks which extend over an area of about 8ha. The main settlement occupies an elevated river terrace aligned north west by south east. This includes eight artificial platforms or terraces, which range from 25m to 75m in width and between 30m and 110m in length and which are aligned north east by south west. These are likely to represent `closes' or individual property plots. The closes are associated with several hollow ways, or tracks, which run across the centre of the group. The hollow ways vary in size from 1.5m to 3m in width and about 0.5m to 0.75m in depth and are variously aligned north east by south west (running towards the river) and north west by south east (running along the valley). The character of any former settlement remains to the south of the river is now difficult to interpret, as this area is partially occupied by a farm and the surrounding land has been ploughed since the original survey in 1970, reducing many of the previously recorded earthworks in this area. The fragmentary earthwork remains in this area include several truncated and now isolated stretches of hollow ways, but these are of uncertain date and are not included in the scheduling. A series of low earthworks on the floodplain of the river represent water meadows. These are characterised by a series of gullies aligned along the river valley which are served by a series of drainage channels. The water meadows are of an uncertain date, but are likely to post-date the medieval settlement and to the north of the river these could overlie earlier medieval features. The area of water meadows which occupies the archaeologically sensitive area between the river and the settlement remains is included in the scheduling. Historical documentation records seven taxpayers in 1333, two men in 1539 and two households in 1662, possibly indicating a gradual decline in population. All gates and fence posts of modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 33184

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 210-211
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 210-211

End of official listing