Deserted medieval settlement at Blackaton, 340m and 400m north east of Lower Blackaton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021396

Date first listed: 07-Nov-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Oct-2007


Ordnance survey map of Deserted medieval settlement at Blackaton, 340m and 400m north east of Lower Blackaton
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Teignbridge (District Authority)

Parish: Widecombe in the Moor

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 69699 78215, SX 69784 78228


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 settlements retaining visible remains of medieval character are recorded 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 on the Moor were established between the 11th and mid-14th centuries AD. Although many of these settlements were deserted by the close of the medieval period, 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. Occasionally such trackways show evidence for cobbling or paving. Long houses were the dominant type of farmhouse in upland settlements of south-west England between the 10th and 16th centuries. Rectangular in plan, usually with rubble or boulder outer walls and their long axis orientated downslope, the interiors of long houses were divided into two separate functional areas, an upslope domestic room and a downslope stock byre, known in south-west England as a shippon. The proportions of the plan occupied by the domestic room and the shippon vary considerably but the division between the two was usually provided by a cross passage of timber screens or rubble walling running transversely through the long house, linking opposed openings in the long side walls. Ancillary buildings were generally separated from the farmhouse itself, or else constructed as outshuts attached to the long house and often extending one end. These additional structures served as barns, fuel or equipment stores and occasionally contained ovens and corn-drying kilns. While many settlements in Devon are known from documentary sources to be of medieval origin, well- preserved deserted sites are rare. Consequently, those on Dartmoor provide the main surviving source of evidence for the distinctive form and layout of medieval settlements in Devon.

Despite destruction of an outlying part of the deserted medieval settlement at Blackaton, the remaining parts of the settlement survive well and together form a good example of a nucleated Dartmoor settlement. Considerable quantities of archaeological and environmental information relating to medieval life and farming will survive. A comprehensive range of contemporary documentation exists to complement the archaeological and environmental information.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a deserted medieval settlement situated on the lower west-facing slope of Blackaton Down. The settlement includes at least eleven separate buildings, three of which are set within or adjacent to small enclosures called crofts. The buildings survive as rectangular earthworks with the occasional protruding stones and most are aligned across the prevailing contour. At least six of the buildings have visible opposed entrances in their long walls and these must represent the remains of longhouses. The smaller buildings may represent the site of barns. A small number of lynchets within the southern part of the monument represent the remnants of a once more extensive strip field system. Modern building works in the vicinity of the monument have revealed substantial quantities of 13th century pottery. Documentation relating to the settlement indeed confirms that there was a settlement here between the 13th and 18th centuries, with the earliest reference being in 1229, at which time it was a manor belonging to the Pipards. In the 16th century the manor was purchased by the Southcott family and in 18th century documentation there is a mention of a chapel with courteledge. The site of this chapel maybe identified with the small building sitting within a square enclosure at NGR SX 69807828. All modern fences and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 36025

Legacy System: RSM


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX67NE48, (1987)

End of official listing