MDE1258 - Deserted medieval settlement at Badgworthy Water (Monument)
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Type and Period (3)
'The 'Doone Houses', or the Hermitage  lay in the Doone Valley west of Badgworthy Water. This may be the site of the Lacoma (Lank Combe) of Doomsday Book, which mentions a quarter hide of arable for use as a hermitage attached to Brendon Church. In the 12th century this area at Badgworthy passed into the hands of the Brethren of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem . Then in the 13th century tenancy passed to the family of Badgworthy . when it became a considerable village, and final mention historically is around 1430 when the village was fast falling into decay. The outline of two long houses have been identified under rough growth and the DMV Research Group class the site as 'A' which means:- "Clear pattern of earthworks recognisable as roads and crofts together with building platforms". This can not be verified from aerial photographs at present available.  At least twelve buildings exist within a hectare centred at SS 7935 4445 and dense bracken may conceal further remains. Five appear to be long houses, four being 17.0 metres long and 5.7 metres wide, the fifth 30.0 metres long. Generally subdivisions are indistinct or untraceable, though the dry stone outer walling, turf and bracken covered, averages 0.5 metres high. Because of tumble the gaps of doorways cannot always be found on both sides of a house. Seven other buildings of varying sizes in square and rectangular plan may represent store houses etc. No road pattern or garden plots are identifiable for the village as a whole. 150.0 metres to the southwest at SS 7917 4436 is another long house and outbuilding, separated from the main settlement by a large knoll in the valley bottom. Surveyed at 1:2500.  Remains clearly visible on aerial photographs taken early in the year.  Badgworthy and 'Lorna Doone'. The Doone family and their depredations on Exmoor are not fictitious. There is documentary evidence in the family papers of the Doones of Braemuir that Ensor, a troublesome son of James Stewart, Lord Doune, was in 1616 driven out of Scotland into exile on Exmoor, where he lived under the name of Doone until his death in 1684, producing four sons, who themselves had illegitimate issue. The doings of the family on Exmoor were 'not peaceable' and they were recalled to Scotland in 1699. This is generally corroborated by written Exmoor legends which were available to Blackmore, whose grandfather was a man of antiquarian taste and Rector of Oare. 'Oare' and the 'Lyn valley' are the only places mentioned in the Scottish sources as occupied by the Doones on Exmoor, but the local legends specify Badgworthy, which by no means conflicts, but is possibly suspect because it would be very natural to associate a deserted settlement with a notorious band of villains settled in the area. The names 'Doone Valley' (published by Ordnance Survey in their 1962 six inch map for instance) and 'Lorna's Bower', associated with the Badgworthy settlement, were in Chanter's belief "first applied to these side valleys by my cousins, the Miss Chanters, of Ilfracombe and Brendon, soon after Lorna Doone was published".  Doone Valley. The deserted settlement at Badgworthy Water consists of 14 structures or pounds. In addition, a number of field boudaries are visible as well as earthwork lynchets, suggesting medieval arable cultivation. Building tabulation. Building 1 12.2 by 5.7 metres. The remains of a rectangular building with lean-to to west and integral compartments at east. It is defined by roughly coursed rubble walls 0.5 metres high and 0.8 metres wide. Much of the interior is covered with rubble. An entrance lies at the east end of the south side. The small rooms at the east end presumably served as a store of dairy; they are reached through a separate entrance in the south wall. It is possible that they represent a later subdivision. The structure has been terraced into the hillside on its northern side. A small rectangular yard is visible to the south, and a larger enclosure or paddock adjoins the stream. Building 2 A pair of practically conjoined structures: a) 12.5 by 4.5 metres The remains of a rectangular building aligned north-north-west to south-south-east, and terraced into the hillside by 1.4 metres at its northern end. It is defined by stony banks 2 metres wide and 0.5 metres high, composed of large stones and rubble; no wall facing is visible. The entrance, 0.8 metres wide, lies on the eastern side. The western side of the building has been robbed away in places, and it cannot be ascertained whether there was a second entrance here. b) 17.1 by 4.1 - 5.4 metres An irregular subrectangular structure lying along the contour and terraced into the hillside by 1.3 metres on its northern side. The feature is defined by banks of partly turf covered rubble 1.5 metres wide and 0.4 metres high with large upright slabs facing them externally in places. The northern side is visible simply as a scarp. An entrance, the sides of which are defined by upright slabs, is on the southern side. To the west of the entrance, the south side of the structure has a sinuous course; this does not appear to be the result of slumping, and cannot easily be reconciled with its interpretation as a building. It may be, therefore, that 2b is a yard or pen. Building 3 17.1 by 6.2 metres The remains of a rectangular building defined by roughly coursed rubble walls 0.5 metres high and 1.1 metres thick (wall faces) with an overall spread of 2.5 metres. An entrance 1.1 metres wide is visible midway along the northern side. The building is cut into, by 0.8 metres, a natural outcrop or moraine to the west. Building 4 8.5 by 5.9 metres A subsquare pound defined by a stony bank or collapsed wall, 1.7 metres wide and 0.4 metres high, on its south, west and southeast, and by a massive stone-crested scarp 0.9 metres high on the north. This gives the appearance that the structure runs up the natural slope, rather than being terraced into it. An entrance, 0.6m wide, lies on the east. Building 5 11.1 by 4.7 metres The remains of a rectangular building defined by compact rubble banks 1.2 metres wide and 0.6 metres high. An entrance, 1.7 metres wide, is on the southern side. A "moraine"-like mound of natural material 2.2 metres high adjoins the west end of the building. The northern side of the building has a shallow external ditch 0.3 metres deep, and a low bank continues its north wall eastwards, suggesting an associated enclosure or yard. Building 6 17.1 by 4.4 metres The remains of a rectangular building defined by roughly coursed rubble banks 0.7 metres high with facing visible in places forming a wall thickness of 1.1 metres. The building is divided into three cells. It appears to have been stepped into the hillside with the compartments being on slightly different levels, the western one being cut 1.2 metres into the natural slope. The two small western compartments are now obscured by rubble. The western one has a floor width of 0.8m, although wall facing suggests a former width of 2.3 metres, it also has an entrance on the northern side. The middle compartment has wall facing suggesting a former width of 1.6 metres - 2 metres, and no entrance. The eastern part of the building comprises a cell with opposed entrances, now utilised by a path. There are traces of possible internal walling at the western end. An attached paddock on the south side of the building encloses an area adjacent to the stream. Building 7 7.1 by 4.3 metres The remains of a rectangular building defined by stony banks of roughly coursed rubble 1.9 metres wide (0.7 metre wall faces), and 1 metre high. The building has an entrance 0.9 metres wide at the western end of the north side. An upright slab 0.35 metres high lies on a west-east alignment close to the east wall of the structure. Building 8 13.4 by 5.6 metres The remains of a rectangular building defined by stony rubble banks 1.7 metres wide. An entrance, 1.9 metres wide, lies on the southwestern side. At its northwest end is a spread of rubble which may mark a former lean to. The whole building has been disturbed by cattle trample, both on the walls themsleves and over most of the interior. Building 9 25.1 by 5.9 metres The remains of a rectangular building defined by rubble walls 0.5 metres high and 2 metres wide. The building is divided into two cells by a stony cross scarp 0.5 metres high. The northeastern cell, 16 metres long, has an entrance on the northwest side. Its northeast wall is missing, having been cut by a field wall and ditch. The southwestern cell, 9 metres long, is crossed by a path, which has obscured any former entrances. Its southwest end is terraced 0.8 metres into the hillside. The southeast corner is irregular. The arrangement appears to be a dwelling with the addition of a cell at the upper or southwestern end. Building 10 8.5 by 7.6 metres A former subsquare yard or pen lying on level ground beside Badgworthy Water. It is defined by stony banks 2 metres wide and 0.5 metres high. Its southwest side utilises a natural riverine terrace/outcrop, which is 1 metre high, and continues as a boundary to the northwest, comprising large pieces of tumbled rock with fragments of walling between. A probable entrance, 1.6 metres wide, is on the southeast, where large recumbant slabs may have served as door jambs. Building 11 8.8 by 5.4 metres The remains of a rectangular structure defined by fragmentary stony banks 1.7 metres wide, best preserved on the northern side where wall facing is visible, giving a wall thickness of 0.8 metres. An entrance is visible on the southeastern side. The southwestern end of the building is terraced by 1 metre in to the hillside, and it has been covered by tumble from the collapse of the building itself as well as land slip. Building 12 13 metres A subcircular enclosure of pound, situated above the deserted village at Badgworthy Water, in a prominent position on a natural shelf on the slopes of a steep spur. It is defined by banks 0.4 metres high and 2 metres wide. It has an external ditch 0.3 metres deep on the western or upslope side. The entrance, 1.6 metres wide, is also on the western side. The interior of the feature is level. The pound is joined by a field boundary running roughly west to east down the point of the spur. The boundary appears to have incorporated the pound as if it were an existing feature, before continuing eastwards to the river. Building 13 12.7 by 4.6 metres The remains of a rectangular building on the south bank of an unnamed tributary of Badgworthy Water. The building is defined by turf covered stony banks 1.6 metres wide and 0.4 metres high; in places large stone slabs are visible poking through the turf. The northern side of the building has been largely eroded by the stream, with only a fragment now surviving. No archaeological deposits are currently visible in the face of the river bank. An entrance, 1.6 metres wide, is visible mid-way along the south side of the building. The structure is vulnerable to river erosion, which is presumably destroying archaeological deposits within it. Building 14 14.6 by 5.6 metres The fragmentary remains of a rectangular building southwest of the site of Badgworthy Cottage. The building is now more noticable for the substantial earthwork platform it occupied, rather than for the structural remains themsleves. The platform is 18 metres by 7 metres, and is cut into the slope by 0.9 metres on its northern side, with a downslope scarp of 1.2 metres. The building is defined by fragmentary sections of turfed over rubble banks. An entrance is visible midway along the south side. The interior is very disturbed and tussocky. It would seem that this building has been severely robbed, probably during the construction of Badgworthy Cottage in the 1860s. This observation is confirmed from contemporary documentary sources. Due to dense bracken, no survey action was possible on this complex. It has, therefore, been recomended for large-scale survey when appropriate. [9-11,26] 'Doone's houses' are the remains of ancient houses and chapel and hermits' cells founded c. 1170 according to an ancient charter for a community of hermits. The traditional home of the outlaw Doone family.  At least 5 houses mostly terraced into hillside, and traces of enclosures. Slighter traces across stream to south.  The longhouses, enclosures, fields and trackways were clearly visible on aerial photographs R. McDonnel, who has transcribed these at 6" scale as part of the CRAAGS Exmoor survey.  The buildings, field system and deserted settlement at Badgworthy are clearly visible on a number of aerial photographs. Several of the nearby enclosures, defined by irregular banks, show traces of ridge of furrow ploughing. Several possibly associated trackways or hollow ways are also apparent on the photographs (see MMO2372 and MMO2364). [7, 12-15] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the following survival scores for the different building platforms around Badgworthy settlement: 2a-9; 2b-8; 3-9; 4-8; 5-8; 6-9; 7-8; 10 (north)-10; 10 (south)-8; 12-8; 15-8; western outlyer-8. The overall condition score provided was 10.  The settlement does not appear to be laid out in relation to any discernible road network. There are level terraces above the settlement that would have been used for grazing and occasionally ploughed. It is possible that the settlement was abandoned due to declining climate and the black death allowing the tenements to seek an easier life in less harsh environments.  The village was abandoned at some point in the 15th Century, but it is uncertain when. One house was inhabited until 1814, local tradition records that the occupants, an old man and his granddaughter, died during a snowstorm in that year.  The site was surveyed in May 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. The following survival scores for the different building platforms around Badgworthy settlement were given: 2a-9; 2b-8; 3-9; 4-8; 5-8; 6-9; 7-7; 10(north)-9; 10(south)-8; 12-8; 15-9; western outlier-8. The overall condition score provided was 10.  This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. 
- <1> SEM7657 Monograph: Clay, R. M.. 1914. Hermits and Anchorites in England. Methuen & Co.. pp 244-245.
- <2> SMO4578 Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited. 129, 214.
- <3> SMO4185 Serial: Devon Archaeological Exploration Society newsletter no 1 (Sept 1962) - no 49 (January 1975) . RS Carver, Volume 28 (July 1969), p2.
- <4> SMO5393 Serial: Devonshire Association. 1862 -. Devonshire Association reports and transactions. Volume 60 (1928), pp24-25.
- <5> SMO5131 Serial: Medieval Village Research Group annual report no 1 (1953) - 33 (1985) . 1965.
- <6> SMO7320 Unpublished document: Quinnell, N.V.. Field Investigators Comments. Ordnance Survey visit, F1, 1 October 1974.
- <7> SMO4068 Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. Ordnance Survey aerial photographs 73087 680/81 (17 April 1973).
- <8> SDE93815 Article in serial: Chanter, F. J.. 1903. R.D. Blackmore & Lorna Doone. Devonshire Association reports and transactions. 35. 231-259. pp 239-250.
- <9> SMO4882 Map: Wilson-North, R.. 1994. Badgworthy medieval settlement/location plan . 1:2500. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
- <10> SMO7329 Unpublished document: Wilson-North, R.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 9 August 1994.
- <11> SMO5039 Report: Wilson-North, R.. 1996. Badgworthy Deserted Medieval Settlement. RCHME Exeter.
- <12> SEM6707 Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. 106G/UK/1501 4215-17 (13 May 1946).
- <13> SEM6707 Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. 106G/UK/1655 4077-78 (11 July 1946).
- <14> SMO4068 Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/931 4069-70 (8 November 1952).
- <15> SMO7566 Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 SE. MD002183.
- <16> SMO5831 Collection: RCHME Exeter. 1993-1999. Exmoor Project.
- <17> SEM6707 Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. CPE/UK/1980 3072, 4069 (April 1947).
- <18> SMO4068 Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. MAM 13/0777 (May 1977).
- <19> SDE93814 Report: Ancient Monuments.
- <21> SEM7406 Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography.
- <22> SEM7666 Article in serial: Chanter, F. J.. 1914-15. Unknown. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 8. 1. P. 77-81.
- <23> SEM7667 Article in serial: Chanter, J. F.. Gazette. no.7844a and 7944a.
- <24> SEM7668 Article in serial: Hall, J. + Hamlin, A.. 1976. Deserted Medieval Sites in Devon. Devon Historian. 13. P. 5.
- <25> SEM7171 Aerial photograph: Griffith, F.. 1980s-1990s. Oblique aerial photographs of the Devon part of Exmoor National Park. ua 5-12 (1 March 1991).
- <26> SEM7230 Monograph: Burton, R.A.. 1989. The Heritage of Exmoor. Roger A. Burton. P.115.
- <26> SEM7670 Report: Gillard, M. + Wilson-North, R.. 2001. The Farms and Fields of Exmoor. P. 17-21, 23-26.
- <27> SEM7402 Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
- <28> SEM7776 Article in monograph: Turner, S. & Wilson-North, R.. 2012. South-West England: Rural Settlement in the Middle Ages. Medieval Rural Settlement: Britain and Ireland, AD 800-1600. Windgather Press. Christie, N. & Stamper, P. P. 145.
- <29> SEM8012 Leaflet: 2013. Badgworthy, Exmoor: Exmoor moorland archaeology walks series. Exmoor National Park Authority.
- <30> SEM7620 Artwork: Brayne, J.. 2000. Reconstruction Drawings for 'The Field Archaeology of Exmoor'. Badgworthy settlement drawing.
- <31> SEM8278 Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015.
- <32> SDE72291 Unpublished document: Gillard, M.. 2001. The Farms and Fields of Medieval Exmoor. pp 17-21, 23-26.
- <33> SEM7987 Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35247, Extant 18 May 2021.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 7890 4451 (1090m by 863m) Centred on|
|Civil Parish||BRENDON, NORTH DEVON, DEVON|
Related Monuments/Buildings (6)
- Related to: Badgworthy Cottage, Badgworthy Lees (Monument) (MDE20870)
- Related to: Medieval or post-medieval enclosures east of Badgworthy Water (Monument) (MMO2408)
- Related to: Medieval or post-medieval enclosures east of Badgworthy Water (Monument) (MMO2408)
- Related to: Medieval or post-medieval trackway west of Badgworthy Cottage (Monument) (MMO2372)
- Related to: Medieval trackway east of Badgworthy Water (Monument) (MMO2364)
- Related to: Post-medieval quarry west of Badgworthy Cottage (Monument) (MDE20606)
Related Events/Activities (4)
Related Articles (2)
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=35247 (Pastscape entry: 35247)
- Devon SMR Monument ID: 642
- Devon SMR: SS74SE/1
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20007
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO84
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 SE14
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35247
Record last edited
Jun 15 2021 4:54PM
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