The 2012 North Hall Dig

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Initial Report on the North Hall Community Excavation, Widecombe-on-the-Moor

A one week community excavation took place at North Hall from the 16th July until the 21st July 2012. Located to the north of the church of St Pancras and the village green, the site was defined by a large infilled moat and earthen bank with a "raised" platform in the centre. The dig was organised and funded by the Dartmoor National Park Authority and the Glebe Farm Partnership, and archaeological staff provided by Oakford Archaeology.

Local children from the Islington and Widecombe Primary Schools participated in the community dig, as did large numbers of volunteers from the local History Group.

A geophysical survey had been undertaken by Substrata in 2011 and had identified possible building remains in the centre of the site. The aim of the community excavation was to investigate the suspected location of the medieval hall and adjacent earthen bank.

The central area contained the heavily robbed out remains of a single N-S aligned wall, while large areas of the interior were covered in small, loose stone rubble. No evidence for internal floors or external surfaces was uncovered and it is thought that the site was comprehensively robbed from the mid-17th century onwards. Interestingly a single large postpit was identified underneath the rubble spread, possibly suggesting an earlier building phase. Excavations at the northern end of the site may have uncovered the remains of the robbed-out revetment wall which is likely to have lined the inside edge of the moat.

Excavations at the western end of the site through the earth bank behind the moat, has revealed at least two phases of activity. A small earthen bank and the beginnings of a ditch were identified underneath large scale later re-deposited natural soils. These are likely to be contemporary with the current moat, and evidence of a beamslot would suggest that the rear of the bank would have had some kind of timber revetment. A single piece of medieval pottery was recovered from the infilling of the beamslot and will in due course provide us with a date for the abandonment and disuse of the earth bank.

The finds recovered from the site contained large quantities of late 18th-19th century blue-and-white transfer print, as well as tobacco pipe stems and a number of plain bowls. Two-dozen pieces of medieval coarsewares, dating to the 13th-15th century were recovered from the site, and interestingly, a single sherd of "Valencian Lustre Ware" was recovered. This is a 15th century high status, good quality pottery from western Spain.

Marc Steinmetzer, Oakford Archaeology

Click here to watch a video of the dig.

Flyer for the dig conducted in July 2012:

Archaeological Dig at the North Hall Site, Widecombe 16th July 2012 - 20th July 2012

Open Day 21st July 2012

An archaeological dig is to be held at the North Hall Site in July organised by Dartmoor National Park Authority and the Council of British Archaeology with the permission of the North Hall Manor site owners, Michael Lamb and Margaret Rogers.

Volunteers are welcome for the dig days. For more details and/or to volunteer for one or more morning or afternoon sessions, please contact Andy Crabb at DNPA on 01626 831077.

Everyone is very welcome to the Free Open Day on 21st July 2012, 10.30am - 4.30pm.

North Hall is an enigmatic manor site with no visible remains on the surface but numerous written records of a manor house on the site. Finally we are getting to delve under the ground surface to see if the existence of the house can be established.

Peter Rennells of the Widecombe History Group has been researching documentary evidence for North Hall for over ten years. Some reports of his discoveries can be found on the History Group Project Pages.

The FREE OPEN DAY will include a range of free activities for all ages including:

  • Visit to the excavations
  • Geophysical survey demonstration
  • Finds surgery-bring along your own discoveries to be identified
  • Dumnonika Iron Age Re-enactment Group displays and demonstrations
  • Clay pot making
  • Build a mini medieval longhouse
  • Local History display and information
  • Historic Environment Record display
  • Medieval food quiz and games

For further information telephone 01822 890414

or visit

The North Hall site is located just behind the village green. There is plenty of car parking space available in the village

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The information on this page was last modified on March 14 2013 08:58:37.

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