One of the intriguing aspects of Britains history is the potential Roman origins of Bartons, a key location for trade through waterways. The geographical significance of Bartons suggests its vital role in facilitating commerce during ancient times. Exploring the remnants of this historical trading hub allows historians to delve deeper into Devon's past and understand its cultural and economic importance.

The origins of Barton and its association with Roman trade routes continue to inspire historical research and speculation. The abundant waterways in the region provided an ideal environment for commerce and played a vital role in connecting different areas. Historians can uncover the remnants of this ancient trading network in Bartons, gaining valuable insights into the economic activities and cultural exchange that took place in Devon centuries ago. By examining the geographical features and historical artifacts, historians can piece together the story of Bartons' significant contribution to Devon's past and the broader context of Roman trade in the region.

Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins PublishersWord origin Old English beretūn, from bere barley + tūn stockade; see town but I have my own ideas, firstly and probably incorrectly that the ton on the end is saxon, is it , then what is the bar and why is it , so common ,that these Bartons relate , at least lets say they are old fashioned in terms of E culture 2021 ,some mention of priories under invesgation of roman port @ merthen

north taw barton devon

Romans crossed the River Taw at what is now Newland Mill, a little outside the present town, and established a succession of military camps there over the years.

The Roman fort is believed to have had the name Nemetostatio, meaning "The road-station of the sacred groves", and may have been located on the site of an ancient druidic sanctuary.

It covered an area of roughly 600 ft (185m) east-west by 390 ft (120m), and was located adjoining the Roman road between Isca Dumnoniorum ,(Exeter), and Okehampton. In addition, the site of a temporary marching camp has been identified half a mile to the north.

North Tawton station in 1970.
By the time of the Domesday survey (1086), there were six farm / manor holdings in what is now North Tawton Parish, including that of Tawton which was the forerunner of the town we know today.
St Peter's Church is first recorded in 1257.

Only the tower of the present building dates from that time, with the rest being mostly 14th and 15th century.

The tower is on the west and is topped by an oak-shingled spire.

There are two aisles with granite arcades and a number of old benchends.

North Tawton station in 1969
North Tawton was already a market town by the end of the 12th century.

Agriculture and the woollen industry provided the chief sources of employment for many centuries, but the former has much declined as a source of employment and the latter has gone altogether, the last town woollen mill closing in 1930.
The railway came to North Tawton in 1865.

North Tawton railway station (now closed) lies a mile or two outside the town on the line from Exeter to Okehampton which continued on to Plymouth and Cornwall. It closed to through passenger traffic in 1968, although a shuttle service between Okehampton and Exeter continued until 1972.
Bathe Pool, a grassy hollow near North Tawton, is said to fill with water at times of national crisis.

Some account of the Scots and Britons about the year 80 a.d. Red hair in the North of Britain and dark men in the West. The Britons are more easily beaten by the Romans because they do not often combine to fight a common foe. What they grow, and how they fight. Qui Caledoniam habitant rutilas habent comas et magnos artus. Silurum colorati uultus et torti plerumque crines. Rams duabus tribusue ciuitatibus ad propulsandum commune periculum conuentus : ita dum singuli pugnant uniuersi uincuntur. Solum fecundum est praeter oleam uitemque et cetera calidioribus terris oriri sueta. In pedite robur est; quaedam natlones et curru proeliantur : honestior est auriga ; clientes propugnant.




“ Where are the high born dames , and where their gay attire and jewelled hair and odours sweet 
Where are the gentle knights that came to kneel and breathe love’s ardent flame low at their feet 
Tourney and joust that charmed the eye and scarf and armoured panoply and nodding plume ,what were they but a pageant scene ”

The isolated little village of Roborough is in these days a place of very quiet charm. The cottages are mostly thatched, but some still show the ancient wide chimney and here and there the old-time oven can be seen bulging and round in the walls ; the water is drawn from wells, and in the evening the soft glow of lamplight is the only lighting. In past ages the church and group of cottages was the heart of large manors and bartons occupied by families of ancient name and sufficient wealth. In prehistoric times a camp of Early Iron Age flourished.  It is situated about three miles from Roborough in Ten Oaks wood , separated from the present village by a very deep and well-wooded valley. The camp is surrounded on three sides by a stream. It is defended by a rampart and ditch, with an outside agger still very perfect; an outer work embraces two-thirds of the camp. These iron age men belonged to the drift of later Celts, which flowed west about five hundred B.C. It would appear that the track of early man crossed through the present village of Roborough in a fairly straight line, and then down to the valley of the Taw. From the Domesday Survey we learn that in the time of the reign of Edward the Confessor the manor of Ruaberga was held by the Saxon Ulveva. It paid geld for if hides and could be ploughed by fourteen ploughs.


It was then given to the Bishop of Coutance.

The Survey continues:

“Now Drogo holds it of the Bishop.

Thereof Drogo has 11/2 virgates in demesne and one plough ; and the villeins have one hide and virgate and eight ploughs. Drogo has there 15 villeins, three bordars, five serfs, 15 beasts, 9 swine, 60 sheep, 20 acres of wood (land), 16 acres of meadow, and 20 acres of pasture. Worth £3 a year ; when the bishop received it, it was worth £4.“ The dominant factor in agriculture was the plough, which in its most powerful and effective form needed a team of eight bullocks to draw it. Usually the team was made up by villeins each contributing oxen, and forming a plough group. The furrow was the length which could be made in one drive without stopping ; it was about 40 rods, and became the furrow length or furlong. Each furrow was so close to the preceding one that the sod turned over and filled the hollow' left by the plough. When the lengths attained the breadth of one rod, it was called a rood. Four roods appear to have been the average day's turn out of work by a fully equipped team, and became in A.S. an acre.was reckoned that the plough could work about one hundred and twenty acres in a year. This measure has generally been accepted as a hide.

The levy on the manor per hide was unpopular, and under the Saxon regime seems to have been resorted to for Danegeld only.

The Normans by the aid of the Domesday register tried to make it a source of revenue, but the collection gave so much trouble that attempts ceased after 1163.
In 1166 Erkenbald of Flanders held in Roborough 1 fee with William de Ruaberga as tenant. It was held of the honour of Barnstaple through Baldwin Flemming. In 1241 the fee was held by Alexander de Cloigny. Writing of Roborough Sir William Pole states that Alexander was lord there in 1243, and that seventy years later a William de Cloigny was lord in 1315.
Historians tell us that the year 1315 was a year of famine and high prices. Indeed, food was so scarce that dogs and even carrion and loathsome animals were eaten and barons were in some instances unable to support their retainers and had to turn them away to roam about the country robbing and poaching in quest of food.4 In the year 1316, the name of Baldwin Flemming is given in the Feudal Aids as the lord of Roborough, with no tenant as there had been in previous years, and one might speculate if the very uneasy times would have led to this vacant manor.
Thirty years later in 1346 in the reign of Edward III the manor was held by Walter Pollard and Henry Barry for one fee, “ which William de Cloyngni aforetinme held, and it is Parcel of those eight fees for which Baldwin Flemming was charged for his relief/’5 These two families continued to hold the manor, for in 1428 Walter Pollard (probably the son of the above-mentioned Walter Pollard) Thomas Smyth, Richard Barry, William Wyke, and Elizabeth at Combe were the freeholders.
The home of Elizabeth at Combe was a small estate which Prince tells was so “ called for lying in a combe or valley ; which combe lyeth in Rowburrow.”6 Domesday Survey has it registered as a small estate of 1/20 to r/40 of a fee. It was held in 1241 by two owners, W. Cusin and Elyas de Combe, who held it of a middle lord in the honour of Barnstaple ; and in 1303 Thomas de Wanseley (of Wansley Barton) and Walter de Frenseton held in the same township. In 1309 Henry de la Combe, most probably the son of Elyas, and Emma his wife, settled half the fee upon themselves for life with the remainder to Henry Durant (of Whitteslegh St. Giles) and to his heirs.
It has been already noted that in 1428 Henry Barry and Walter Pollard were lords of Roborough manor ; Barry’s younger son dwelt at Combe and giving up his name of Barry was called after the name of his house. The Barry family were a younger branch Of an ancient Irish race the Barrys of Barrymore. In an old Latin deed executed in the time of Edward III, William Barry was described as “ Hiberniensis.” This deed was transcribed by “ Marland.”
Elizabeth, the freeholder of Roborough, was the daughter and heiress of Barry, or at Combe. She married Thomas Wollocombe of Over Wollocombe, in the parish of Morthoe.

The arms he bore were : Argent three bars gules, a file of three sable.

The family appear to have arranged advantageous marriages for their sons, although^ the name of the wife of William, son of Elizabeth and Thomas Wollcombe, is given simply as Thomasin, his son married a Cornish bride, Anne, daughter and heiress of J. Michelstone of Lanteglas, Cornwall, and their son married Thomsin Coles of North Tawton.

From this time the names of the brides are well known locally. Alexander, the next in succession, married Anne, daughter of Anthony Pollard of Horwood. The Pollards were an influential family and carried <arms : Argent a chevron sable between three escallops gules. Their son John married into the Bassett family. He married Mary, the daughter of Sir John Bassett of Umberleigh. Sir John was Sheriff of Devon in 1525, the sixteenth year of the reign of Henry VIII. His second wife was Honor, daughter of Sir Richard Grenville of Stowe.

Mary’s brother became privy counsellor to Queen Mary.

The wedding would have been a gay and charming sight, for in the early 16th century in country districts, the path to the church was strewn with flowers and rushes, and
along it the bride, in white or russet, her hair in long flowing tresses, was led by two bachelors, who acted as her bride-men. The groom was led by bridesmaids who carried gilded branches of rosemary. The guests usually wore bright scarves and fringed and gauntleted gloves. The bride’s gloves were very elaborate and were afterwards given to the bride-men.7
John the son of John and Mary, married at Alwington, Mary, the daughter of John Coffin, gent of Portledge.
He must have died before i6ir, for on January 30th of that year the custody and wardship of John Wollocombe was granted to Mary Coffin, his mother, by King James I.8 This John Wollocombe married Sara, daughter of John Fortescue of Wear Giffard.

Her memorial may still be seen on the north wall of Roborough church. Their children were John, Roger, Sara and Elizabeth. An old Latin deed dated April 4th, 1620, is an agreement between John and Sara his wife with the signatures of Hugh Fortescue and Lewis Pollard.; and an indenture of September 28th, 1654, between John Wollocombe and John Elford, witnesses being Arthur Fortescue, James Erissay and Edmund Fowell. This John Elford married Sara Wollocombe. Sara Wollocombe the elder had died in 1652. It is curious to note that in 1651 a pardon was granted to John Wollocombe but no reason is given, but as it was in the third year of the Commonwealth, it well might have been in connection with the Civil War. In 1649 there was a probate of the will of John Wollocombe. Roger, his son, married the daughter and heiress of John Elford of Shepstor. John Elford’s first wife was the co-heiress of Copplestone, and as there was no male issue the Copplestone property including the manor passed in consequence to the families of Fortescue and Wollocombe.

The Elford arms were : per pale argent and sable, lion rampant gules.9
In 1681 a Latin deed, translated by Marland, between Roger Wollocombe of Combe and Richard Coffin, William Elford and Roger Wollocombe the younger, and Jane Coffin spinster, must have been the marriage settlement, for Roger the younger married Jane Coffin of Portledge.

He became Sheriff of Devon.

He died childless in 1707 ; his name lives as the donor of the tenor bell which he gave in 1706 to be added to the peal of six bells in the church tower.
Roger’s sister Mary had married John Stafford whose family were of Stafford Barton , in Dolton parish.

Possibly they lived at Wansley as her three grand-daughters, Anna Zenobia, Isabella Charlotta, and Henrietta are recorded in the baptismal register of Roborough church in 1733, 1737 and 1738 as of Wansley.

Roger, the Sheriff, left his estate of Combe to Mary Stafford and to her heirs male.

 Mary had two sons, Roger and Thomas. Roger's daughter Elizabeth died s.p. and Thomas succeeding after the death of his brother, by virtue of an Act of Parliament took the name of Wollocombe, and was known as Thomas Stafford Wollo-combe.

He married at Bideford in 1728 Anne Rolle, daughter of Denis Rolle of Horwood. Her sister Florence married Sir Bourchier Wrey. Of their five children John and Roger died unmarried. Isabella Charlotta married and went to live at Langford, while Henrietta went back to Roborough when she married Henry Hole.
Henry Hole’s grandfather had become the owner of Ebberly and Combe ; he also acquired the Roborough bartons of Thelbridge and Cliston.
The Stafford Wollocombes removed to Bideford, where their names may be found in the Parish Church register. The head of the family died in 1755. This is a lengthy story, from Domesday Book through the Middle Ages, to the Queen Anne Sheriff, almost down to the “ age of elegance and here they fade away from the history of Roborough bartons ; and we find to the north another manor of the name of Ebberly, in which Henrietta Wollocombe has found a home.
The derivation of this name is obscure. In the fees for 1244 the name is spelt Emberlegh, in 1249 Ebbersley, and in 1310 Ebberlegh. The E.P.N.S. give as its source the O.E. name of Eadburg, that is should the earliest form be corrupt.
The name connected with this manor is that of Davy.

The first ancestor recorded in the pedigree of this family is a William de la Via, or Vye, who came to England with William I and made his home in Devonshire. His picture is painted on the side of the pedigree, in the armour of those times, with a helmet on his head, and a plume of feathers, in his right hand a battle-axe, and slung over his left arm his shield with his arms : argent, a chevron sable between three mullets pierced gules.


He left three sons.

The sole daughter of Walter the Eldest was married to Walter Pollard who thereby became possessed of the original estate of Way, which he transmitted to his posterity who bore their mother’s arms, sometimes quarterly with their paternal coat, but more frequently alone, and in preference to it.
A deed in Latin reads : “ Walter de la Waye son of William hath given to Walter Pollard all his land of de la* Waye for ever—Witnesses, Sir (chaplain) Henry de Wollegh, Thomas de Merton, knight, William de Stapledon, Henry de Winscot, Phillip de Stafford, Richard Witteslegh, Roger Durant and others.”

Seal, a lamb bearing a flag and sans date.11 This was evidently the marriage agreement. Waye barton is in St. Giles Parish.
William the second son, brother to Walter continued at Ebberly and Uppecot near Torrington to the reign of Henry VI.

The Parish Church of Roborough (North Devon).

The translation of a deed dated 1278 runs : Richard Davy hath given to William his eldest son all lands in Ebberly. Witnesses : Ralph Monek, William Stafford, Henry de la Combe and others. A hundred and forty-two years later in the eighth year of Henry VI (1420) a deed records “ John son of Walter de Cobleigh hath given to William Davy, land in Ebberly. Witnesses : Richard Barry and William Wollo-combe.”

The seal, a cross patee with label of three points. No reason is given for the transfer of the land. Risdon says of this family : “ They flourished for many years at Uppecott, Ebberly and Owlacombe.,,
Marland states that a Robert de Vye or Davy married the heiress of Owlacombe, and as we have the information that Robert, son of William Davy, married “ Letitia ” she might have been the lady.

Robert's son Roger married Thomasin daughter and heiress of Walter of Ebberly, and their son married Alicia, daughter and co-heiress of Stephen Gifford. A Latin deed dated 1424, the second year of the reign of Henry VI gives the following statement : Roger Davy hath confirmed to his son William and Alice his wife, his lands in Ebberly, which descended to him by the death of his kinsman (fratis) and Lettice his wife, mother of the said Roger. Witnesses : Richard Barry, John Pollard, William Wollo-combe and others.12
In 1446 William Davy represented the borough of Barnstaple in Parliament. The meeting was at Cambridge on the 10 th of February.

At this era it was not always easy to find candidates for the honour of sitting for Parliament.

A change had been made in 1430 in the method of electing members for the county, or “ knights of the shire ” as they were called.

All freeholders or landowners had been admissible to this court either in their own persons or by attorney, and it had been still the folk moot or general assembly of the people.

But in the ninth year of Henry VI the right of election was strictly limited to persons who possessed freeholds worth at least 40s. a year. All members were allowed 4s. a day, and proper means were taken to protect them, but even so it was not always safe to go to meetings of Parliament.

The year before William Davy became 4 Member, at the meeting in Leicester members took “ bats or cudgels ” to protect themselves with, and the Parliament was known as the “ Parliament of Bats/’13 5
William’s son Richard married and had two sons, William and Robert.

William married a daughter of Barry and remained at Ebberly continuing the elder line “ from some one of whose ramifications the family of Davy of Orleigh claim their origin.”


Robert married the heiress of Thomas and became the founder of the family of Davy of Creedy.

adjacent to roman forts and water
adjacent to roman forts and water

Cowick Priory
Geoffrey Yeo’s identification of Cowick Barton as marking the site of Cowick Priory  may be accepted without question.

The stained glass from the house was form early in the possession of my father, the late Arthur L. Radford.  It was reset in the windows at Bovey House, Beer, before 1914 and exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries, after he gave up the lease o f the house in 1914. The record of the meeting, on 28 May 1914, describes the two pieces from ‘Cowick Priory ’ as ‘the arms of Edward VI with prince’s crown in wreath o f am orini’ and ‘red and white Tudor rose and crown, temp. Edward VI’ . 1 The record o f acquisition, with other papers concerning my fath er’s collection perished in the bom bing o f Exeter in 1942. About 1920 I went with my father to look at Cowick Barton , the house from which the glass came; it was then in a state of poor repair and we were unable to gain access to the interior. The house of late Elizabethan or Jacobean date was that shown in a sketch published in 1887.2 It was the house named Cowick Barton in records from about 1619 and later as noted by Geoffrey Yeo. The external exam ination showed that the core of the building, including the main range and the wing on the right, in part at least, belonged to an older building. This can only have been the house o f the Russells and the record o f a date stone o f 1540 is borne out by the glass which must date from before the accession o f Edward VI in 1547. It is a reasonable conjecture that Russell took over and perhaps added to a part o f the priory buildings and that the main range o f the house shown in the sketch was the west range of the monastic cloister, which would have housed, on the upper floor, the Prior’s lodging and the main guest rooms. I summarize my father’s conclusions, which were set down in a report, my copy of which was destroyed with his other papers.

bagtor barton merthen wrey taw halwill bagtor cowick

Tor — and here I quote from Crossing’s Guide to Dartmoor where he says ‘Risdon speaks of a noted place called Saddletor from the hills near which the Lomen or as we now call it, the Lemon — “ fetcheth her fountain ” .

The nearest stream to the tor is the Sig which rises on Bag Tor Down about 1 quarter of a mile S of it  it falls into the Lemon (the springs of which are near Lud Gate) just below Sigfor , and immediately after having received the waters of the Langworthy Brook.’ All of which we shall be investigating in due course .

This particular stream, which becomes the River Sig, runs past Bugtor cottages and is typical of these moorland streams, deep set in ferns and bright flowers among the rocks as they chatter busily onwards, and it was here that Syd Wills, now living at St Budeaux,spent many happy hours of his childhood, and where he told me, ‘It was an unwritten law to let the foxes drink before you collected the day’s water supply from the brook.’ He went on to tell me of the two Indies who once ran Bagtor House and the Barton as guesthouse and farm, their names Miss Blankiron and Miss Cross. Memories of them too came from Miss Catherine Haines, now inher 80s and living at Bridford. She was a groom at Bagtor House in the 1920's . And here once again the tragedy offire touched the Lemon’s tributary , the Sig . Early one morning she got up at five to go cubbing and saw clouds of smoke coming from the neighbouring

farm of Westabrook, an old thatched house standing near the banks of the river . She rushed down to wake up the Retallick family , who lived there,

and to help the oldest member of the family from his bed and into thebarn for safety. Eventually the fire engine arrived, ‘B ut,’ she said , thore was some problem over getting the pump started to take water

I rom the stream, and I had to chase off to another farm for fuel. Meanwhile Mr Retallick was concerned about his watch which, as

was his habit, he had tied to the bedpost for the night. It was resn ii‘(l — only to be stolen from him later. His son, Mr H. Retallick, now farms Bagtor Barton and he told me that recently when they

were doing some repairs at Bagtor cottages they took down a partition and uncovered a small cubby hole like the ones from which

lickots are sold at railway stations. ‘My guess is that is where they

paid the men who worked in Newtake and Crownley M ines,’ he said

and there are also the remains of a blacksmith’s shop and blowing

house on the common.’

lie too remembered the two ladies from the Big House. ‘Proper

which have occurred on its banks.

Here, at its beginnings, controversy once raged, for water used to  be taken from it to feed the leat or pot water, the sole supply for

Ilsington village, and Dick Wills, parish historian of Narracombe,

whose family have farmed there for fourteen generations, told me

there were many accusations from the thirteenth century onwards

that too much water was taken, thus depriving the manor mill,

Bagtor, of its supply, whilst the leat was feeding the mills of Ilsington, Liverton and Pool.

The site of Calstock Roman Fort probably dating from the 1st century AD.

This is only the third Roman fort to have been found in Cornwall and the first with possible associations with Roman military interests in Cornwall's mineral resources.

 The site is located on a spur above the river Tamar near to St. Andrew's church

in the parish of Calstock, Cornwall.

 It was found accidently by a team from Exeter University, as part of the larger Bere Ferrers Project,

 investigating the development of medieval silver mines in this area.

 A geophysical survey in 2007 revealed the outline of a Roman fort enclosed by two ramparts and two ditches.

 A number of anomalies were also revealed which may be associated with Roman metalworking. In 2008 a trial trench was excavated on the site which revealed details of the fort's defences.
The fort measures circa 170m by 160m,

 with an internal area of circa 140m by 130m (1.82 hectares). This is much larger than the other two known Roman forts in Cornwall; Nanstallon (Monument Number 431370) and Restormel (Monument Number 432777). Two ramparts and ditches were uncovered.

The outer rampart is approximately five metres wide and is constructed of clay and shillet from the digging of the ditches. The sides of the rampart were held together with timbers on both faces.

 Two ditches were uncovered between the inner and outer rampart with characteristic v-shaped profiles and square-cut bases which is typical of Roman military sites.

They were 2.8m deep and approximately 3.5m wide. The outer rampart was also approximately five metres wide and the investigations show that it was capped with large sandstone rubble on the western and southern sides of the fort. Just outside this rampart a stone-lined furnace structure was excavated.

Finds from it included Roman pottery, fragments of furnace lining and some ore and slag which suggest that Roman metalworking was taking place in the 1st century AD.

A track leading into the fort was also identified.