Widecombe's Ancient Landscape Book Cover

Widecombe's Ancient Landscape

A book of 171 pages with 95 illustrations in full colour

Written by Roger Claxton

The perfect companion for exploring Widecombe village, the valley and the surrounding moorland

All sales profits are donated to local causes

A very limited number of copies of the printed book are available for local readers at £11.00 (plus postage)

Local collection also available to avoid postage

Kindle and Amazon hardback and paperback editions are also available

ISBN (Amazon hardback) 979-8852985002

ISBN (Amazon paperback) 979-8397281980

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Table of Contents

Additional supporting material for the book, including a number of interactive Google maps, is available from: www.mymusings.co.uk

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This book is about the landscape around Widecombe-in-the-Moor, a village in Dartmoor, Devon, UK. The focus is mostly on the immediate area around Widecombe village, and encompasses the hills and moorland as well as the valley in which the village sits, but also includes parts of the wider parish. This is an ancient landscape, as evidenced by the many archaeological features still present, which can easily be spotted just by walking around. Many of the buildings that can be seen today also bear evidence to this earlier time. This is not a comprehensive study, but picks out specific aspects of Widecombe’s history, either areas that have not been addressed before, or where a new perspective is shown on existing familiar history. As a result, the reader should discover some new and, hopefully, surprising, and interesting Widecombe related topics. The book should help the reader to understand the multi-faceted richness of what is a relatively small part of the moor, feeding the spirit with the rugged beauty, the peace, the skies that often race by and bring rapidly changing weather, and the relatively ‘unspoilt’ nature of the landscape even though it has been moulded by the actions of humans over recent millennia. It is also intended to help the reader enjoy the parish landscape either whilst out and about, or from the comfort of an armchair. It adds further richness to an already rich landscape, and thus hopefully makes a visit or a mental image that much more enjoyable. Some of the interpretations made in this book are necessarily conjectural and personal. The reader is encouraged to make up their own mind about what they see, and to just enjoy being in this unique part of the world.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Early History
  • Part One: The Valley Landscape
    • The Slope
    • Reaves
    • Hut-Circles
    • Abandoned Field Systems
    • Ridge and Furrow
    • Lines of Stones
    • Boulder Incisions
    • The ‘D’ Stone and Other Boundary Markers
    • Valley Field Systems
    • Moor Gates & Gate Posts
    • Driftways
    • Granite
    • Large Granite Slab
    • Water
    • Tin
    • Wildlife
    • Valley Flora
      • Gorse
      • Meadows
      • Marsh
      • Hedgerows
  • Part Two: Settlement
    • Introduction
    • Domesday
    • Medieval Widecombe
    • Some more on the origins of Widecombe
      • Box 8: Widecombe Origins
      • 1198-1201 - The Pipe Roll
      • 1244 - The Devon Eyre
      • 1244 - Testa de Nevil
      • Some Further Early Documents & Names
    • Early Religion
    • Ownership Patterns
    • Widecombe Manors
    • Dunstone
      • The Manor
      • Dunstone Cross and Green
  • Part Three: A Pre-Conquest Document
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgements
  • Bibliography
  • Some Internet Resources
  • Index


Thanks are due to the archive of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral for granting permission to use images, and for photographing the Peadington document, the South West Heritage Trust for their similar help with the documents in their care and the National Archives for permission to use the images of the 1201 Exchequer Pipe Roll and the 1244 Devon Eyre.

I am also indebted to David Stone and Richard Sandover for their work on the Moor Medieval project which looked at the origins of Widecombe, and which provided me with a starting point for the investigations in Part 2.

I would also like to thank Dr John Booker for his translations of the various Medieval Latin texts, Alex Richards, Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Historic Environment Record Officer for her invaluable help with the HER and LiDAR data and mapping and Andy Crabb of the Dartmoor National Park Authority Archaeology Department for his help with the archaeological features on Dunstone Down.

Thanks are also due to my wife, Ann, who provided valuable feedback on versions of the text, Tim Whitten and David Ashman for their valued comments, and to those who granted permission to use images, especially Peter Rennells for his map of the valley, used as a frontispiece to help people find their way around the places mentioned in the text.

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