Scheduled Monument: Deserted medieval farm, W of Bramble Combe
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
15 October 1979
Date last amended
03 September 2015
Summary of Monument
Deserted medieval farmstead 345m north east of Grexy Combe Reservoir.
Reasons for Designation
Exmoor is the most easterly of the three main upland areas in the south western peninsula of England. In contrast to the other two areas, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, there has been no history of antiquarian research and little excavation of Exmoor monuments. However, detailed survey work by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England has confirmed a comparable richness of archaeological remains, with evidence of human exploitation and occupation from the Mesolithic period to the present day. Farmsteads, normally occupied by only one or two families and comprising small groups of buildings with attached yards, gardens and enclosures, were a characteristic feature of the medieval rural landscape. They occur throughout the country, the intensity of their distribution determined by local topography and the nature of the agricultural system prevalent within the region. Documentary evidence indicates that most farmsteads on the Moor were established between the 11th and mid-14th centuries AD. Many were deserted by the close of the medieval period, some were abandoned later. Deserted medieval farmsteads are often visible as close groupings of small buildings 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 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 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 from one end. These additional structures served as barns, fuel or equipment stores and occasionally contained ovens and corn-drying kilns. The deserted medieval farmstead 345m north east of Grexy Combe Reservoir survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, abandonment, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 September 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 includes a deserted medieval farmstead situated on the upper south facing slopes of the prominent coastal ridge called North Hill at the head of the steep natural gully of Grexy Combe. The farmstead survives as at least four rectangular buildings including at least one longhouse within an enclosure all defined by stony banks of up to 0.4m high. The longhouse measures 13.5m long by 6m wide with a doorway on the south side. Some of the buildings are set on massively terraced platforms. It was discovered by Betty Osborn in 1983 as part of a parish survey.
PastScape Monument No:-36839 and 866956
National Grid Reference: SS 94045 47920