Secrets of medieval manor revealed

A Dartmoor community got together to uncover the remains of a ruined medieval manor and found evidence that its occupants once travelled as far as Moorish Spain.

Secrets of Widecombe medieval manor are revealed
Volunteers excavating the remains of the lost manor of North Hall at Widecombe-in-the-Moor, and left, a small piece of 15th century pottery from Islamic Spain found during the dig [Credit: This is Devon]
More than 50 volunteers gathered in a bid to reveal the lost manor of North Hall in Widecombe-in-the-Moor.

The once imposing site has been reduced to an overgrown moat and apple pound but its new owners are attempting to return it to some of its former glory.

Archaeologists found the site was robbed for building stone after being abandoned, hastening its demise.

They think the stone was collected from the manor site in order to re-build Widecombe Church Tower in the 1640s.

Interestingly, they also came across a small piece of "high-status" 15th century pottery from Islamic Spain, indicating that the site might once have been home to wealthy and well-connected people.

Andy Crabb, archaeologist for Dartmoor National Park Authority, said the community excavation, which included schoolchildren and local historians, had been a great success.

"In five days of digging, well over 50 individual volunteers helped out – a fantastic achievement. The volunteers came from Widecombe village, the Widecombe Local History Group and from the wider local community.

"Despite some wet weather at the start of the dig, all seemed to greatly enjoy their experience of archaeological excavation, with many returning again and again throughout the week."

The dig was the culmination of many years of research by Peter Rennells of the Widecombe History Group, a leading light in investigating the history of the manor and its location.

Archaeologists from Oakford Archaeology helped to guide the groups of local volunteers.

Source: This is Devon [October 16, 2012]

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