A new film exploring the fascinating history of one of the most famous deserted villages in England has been released by Dartmoor National Park.
‘Medieval Houndtor: A Contested Landscape’ tells the story of Hound Tor Mediaeval village and celebrates the contribution pioneering female archaeologist Marie Minter made towards our understanding and conservation of Dartmoor’s heritage.
The film is available to watch now via Dartmoor National Park’s YouTube channel.
Medieval Houndtor: A Contested Landscape explores the excavation of the abandoned site in the 1960s, led by Mrs Minter, who sadly died a few years before the results were published.
Initially thought to have 8th Century origins, the settlement is now considered to have emerged as a permanent village in the early 13th Century.
As well as investigating the story of the dig and its finds the film reveals documentary evidence surrounding the marching of 26 men on the ‘vill’ in the 1230s and the tumultuous 14th Century, during which climatic change, the agrarian crisis of 1315-22 and the Black Death of 1348-9 all left their mark on the village.
What caused Houndtor mediaeval village to be abandoned? Was it a case of retreat and defeat or were the villagers forced out?
Medieval Houndtor: A Contested Landscape was produced and filmed between September – December 2019 and involved almost 40 volunteers from Dartmoor and surrounding areas.
Featuring interviews with surviving relatives of the 1960s archaeologists, local historians, volunteers and mediaeval re-enactments, it also includes new research and input from members of the Moor Medieval Study Group.
As well as undertaking research, volunteers and members of the Study Group designed and made historical costumes, sourced props, created original artwork, conducted interviews, took part in re-enactment scenes and contributed specialist knowledge to the project.
Emma Stockley, Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Community Engagement Officer, said: “The film was a huge team effort so a massive and heartfelt thank you to all those involved. No matter how large or small the contribution, we really couldn’t have done it without the dedication of all the organisations and people who took part.”
A trailer of the film is also on Dartmoor National Park’s Facebook page.
Footnote: please forgive the inconsistent spelling of mediaeval throughout this article. For consistency, The Moorlander uses the above spelling throughout our publication but the alternative spelling has been presented here as directed by Dartmoor National Park.