MMO2785 - Medieval and later field system on Whitefield Down (Monument)

Summary

A possible medieval field system is overlain in many places by a number of post medieval, probably late 19th Century, regular field boundaries.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Low banks forming ploughed out field boundaries on Whitefield Down and Kedworthy Down are visible on aerial photographs. [1-3] Sheep walks, but no evidence of field system on steep valley sides. Possible barrows not investigated closely. [4] Low banks forming numerous rectangular fields and enclosure are visible on aerial photographs as a complex series of earthworks on the southern slopes of Whitefield Down, Brayford, above Sherracombe. Centred at approximately SS 7174 3692, the system extends across the southern slopes of Whitefield Down from Whitefield Farm and Little Comfort Wood in the south to North Twitchen and Kedworthy Down in the North, covering a total area of 79 hectares. The system is aligned approximately northwest to southeast, although some of the banks, particularly in the south of the system appear to follow a north to south alignment. The banks, measuring between 3 and 5 metres wide, are relatively well preserved, although spread and much reduced in height, presumably by ploughing. Many of the fields can be seen in their entirety with the largest measuring some 207 metres long by 160 metres wide, while the smallest measures 160 metres long by 140 metres wide. Traces of ridge and furrow can be seen in at least two of the enclosures, at SS 7165 3677 and SS 1756 3646. These two areas measure 206 metres long by 90 metres wide and 140 metres long by 90 metres wide respectively. The distance between the rig measures approximately 6 to 8 metres. The presence of ridge and furrow ploughing of this size and form suggests a medieval date for this field system. The banks are overlain in many places by a number of post-medieval, probably late 19th Century, regular field boundaries. Neither the medieval field system nor the regular 19th Century boundaries are depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map, which shows this area as open moorland crossed by a few footpaths. It seems likely that the low banks are part of a medieval attempt to enclose the moor, which failed for some reason and was abandoned some considerable time prior to the publication of the map. In the late 19th or early 20th Century the Down was enclosed again, and the banks were further reduced by ploughing. [1,5-8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1980 4441-42 (11 April 1947).
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. MAM/14/101 (May 1977).
  • <3> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. Ss7135A, SS7136A.
  • <4> Archive: Devon County Council. Various. Devon SMR / HER records / parish files - Exmoor records. Anonymous, DCRA, site visit, 18 July 1979.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 106G/UK/1655 3274-76 (11 July 1946).
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73087 549-51 (17 April 1973).
  • <7> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1890.
  • <8>XY Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 73 NW. MD002189. [Mapped feature: #33160 ]

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SS 7162 3653 (1399m by 1505m) (Aerial Survey)
Map sheet SS73NW
Historic Parish HIGH BRAY
Historic Parish NORTH MOLTON
Civil Parish BRAYFORD, NORTH DEVON, DEVON
Civil Parish NORTH MOLTON, NORTH DEVON, DEVON

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 17821
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 61765
  • Devon SMR: SS73NW/545
  • Devon SMR: SS73NW/600
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20435
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE21715
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 73 NW125
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1484625

Record last edited

Sep 9 2020 11:30AM

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