MDE10877 - Medieval or post-medieval settlement earthworks at Barton Town (Monument)


A series of medieval or post-medieval settlement earthworks and hollow ways, with paths and tracks. The group would appear to form at least two farmsteads with associated cottages nucleated around the church forming a small hamlet.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Centred at SS 6808 4060 are settlement earthworks lying in two permanent pasture fields. The site lies some 1.3 kilometres to the west of Challacombe village and immediately east of the isolated Challacombe parish church (MDE10860). The only surviving settlement around the church consists of Barton Town farmhouse: a late 19th Century building (local information, MEM23057) which replaced an earlier dwelling to its immediate south at SS 6800 4055 (MDE20313). This still survives but as an outbuilding. To the west of the church is a group of cottages (MEM23067) which appear to be contemporary with the farmhouse. The settlement occupies the head of a narrow valley running north to south to join the valley of the river Bray. Close to the confluence, some 250 metres to the south, is the site of Challacombe mill (MDE10879). In the fields to the north and east are the remains of strip cultivation or lynchetting (MMO312). The earthworks, in a good state of preservation, appear to represent former farmsteads and cottages. The two fields in which they lie are divided by a west to east sunken unmetalled track called "Town Lane". The field to the north contains the best preserved earthworks. The sites of three buildings or groups of buildings are clearly visible at (a), (b) and (c). Earthworks at (a) consist of a crew yard terraced into the natural hill slope; the amorphous remains of platforms are visible on the northern or upslope side. To its northeast is a rectangular enclosure or yard defined by broad banks on its northern and western sides. At (b), in the northeastern corner of the field, is an 'L'-shaped scarp, 0.5 metres high, defining a rectangular platform measuring approximately 10 metres by 9 metres. At (c) are the turf covered footings of a stone structure measuring approximately 13 metres by 7 metres. A platform scarp, 0.6 metres high, on its southern side builds the platform out of the hillside. Other earthworks within the field comprise paths and tracks associated variously with rights of way across the field and farm access. There are also a number of drains and several springs which have been capped, but which have presumably led to disturbance of the earthwork in the past due to puddling, erosion and so on. In the southern field are further settlement earthworks comprising at least three rectangular platforms arranged west to east, and fronting a former way on their southern side. This way has been obscured by a field boundary running within it, and by a leat which obliquely cuts it at its western end. A former field boundary, marked only by a northwest to southeast ditch, runs across the middle of the field, and clips the most easterly of the three platforms. It is shown on the Tithe Map of 1839 [1] with a track running beside it on its eastern side. To the east of the former boundary is another slight platform (d) fronting the former way on its southern side. A spread north to south bank runs up the eastern side of the field and is perhaps associated with cultivation predating the existing eastern field boundary. At its northern end is a well defined platform marked by an "L"-shaped scarp defining an area measuring 10 metres by 9 metres. A plot is shown here on the Tithe Map and the Apportionment names it "Home Ground". The earthwork described here appear to consist of at least two farmsteads with associated cottages and ways nucleated around the church and forming a small hamlet. The earthworks are bounded to the north and east by cultivation remains visible on aerial photographs (MMO312). The date of the earthworks and time of desertion has not been pursued. Surveyed at 1:1000 scale, Sept. 1993. Further traces of earthworks are visible in the fields to the immediate south and east of those described here, but were considered too fragmentary to be included in the survey. [1-5] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Map: 1839. Challacombe Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <2> Technical drawing: Wilson-North, R. and Sainsbury, I.. 1993. Barton Town settlement/pencil survey . 1:1000. Permatrace. Pencil.
  • <3> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I. & Wilson-North, R.. 1993. Barton Town settlement/ink survey . 1:1000. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <4> Collection: RCHME Exeter. 1993-1999. Exmoor Project.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Various. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 23 September 1993.
  • <6> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 909984, Extant 10 November 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 6808 4060 (185m by 166m) (2 map features)
Map sheet SS64SE
Historic Parish CHALLACOMBE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 60619
  • Devon SMR: SS64SE/203
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE21685
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 SE49
  • National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 909984

Record last edited

Nov 10 2021 2:16PM


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