THE HISTORY OF HUNTSHAW

We know that people have lived in Huntshaw for at least 3,500 years.  The earliest evidence of human occupation comes from the two burial mounds (known as barrows) that lie on the eastern boundary of the village at the end of Delgraves Lane.  These monuments date from the Bronze Age (1500 BC) and are found in a field called Burrow Park.  The barrows were excavated by Victorian enthusiasts in 1867 and 1875 and the remains of a cremation along with a bronze dagger were found.  The dagger is now on display in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter. The two barrows formed part of a barrow cemetery as at least three other burial mounds are found nearby.  Bronze Age barrows are often found on the boundaries of parishes, in elevated positions and covered in white chalk making them very visible for miles around.  

 

Berry Castle is an Iron Age enclosure that is thought to have been in use for a few hundred years from around 600 BC.  The enclosure is found on a promontory in Huntshaw Woods and it has been the subject of intensive conservation work over the past five years.   

The earliest written reference to Huntshaw appears in the Domesday Book that was compiled by King William 1st (Otherwise known as William the Conqueror) in 1085 - 86.  In this record the manor (village) is referred to as Huneseau. By 1308 it was known as Henshaue and in 1316 reference is made to Honshaue.  The year 1346 sees the village referred to as Honyschaue.  By the reign of Edward III the village is known as Honyshawe and it wasn't until the early 1600s that the name "Huntshaw" emerged.  We have to remember that written English in medieval times had variable spelling.  Tristan Eisdon, a local historian who was writing between 1605 to 1630, described the name of Huntshaw as the "Hunters shaddow" with shaw meaning shadow, an apt name as the village had substantial woodland.  In contrast the Place Name Society suggests that Huntshaw was originally "Honey Wood" so called because of the "sweetness of the water" or the abundance of swarms of bees in the woods.

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MORE HISTORY TO FOLLOW

Huntshaw is located in a remote and rural part of North Devon.  The approach to the village is via one of many steep (1 in 7) narrow roads some of which still have grass growing in the middle of them!   If you don't have a SatNav or a good map it can be difficult to find!  But once you get there you will find vibrant woodland, secluded hamlets and working farms in a landscape of undulating hills, valleys and streams that will surprise and delight you.  Walking is the best way to experience the beauty of the village but beware the roads are narrow and you will encounter traffic as well as the odd tractor.  If you venture up to Huntshaw Cross you will have wonderful views of the North Devon coastline, Lundy Island, Exmoor and Dartmoor. 

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