The village of Odcombe has a rich, varied and fascinating heritage - much of which
is in evidence in the local buildings, pathways, boundaries and landscape.
Read on to discover more about Odcombe’s fascinating past.

Tithe Map of 1814

This Tithe Map of 1814 centres on the Odcombe Church of St Peter's and St Paul's.

It shows the adjacent fields, roads and buildings - the layout of which is exactly the same today! The medieval strip field system can be perfectly in the top right corner on this map and the woodlands around the modern Pit Plain towards Ham Hill are shown very clearly. 

The dark area at the bottom mark the fields of the neighbouring village East Chinnock.  

 tithe map

Odcombe in prehistoric times

Whilst there is no physical evidence of a specific settlement within the parish of Odcombe in prehistoric times, that is not to say that Odcombe was an unpopulated wasteland! In those times the land was simply divided in different ways. 

There was definitely the nationally significant hill fort at Ham Hill in the Iron Age and there was also a prosperous villa at Lufton during the Roman period. 

Both of these sites are very close indeed to the modern parish of Odcombe and there is little doubt that the lands associated with them would have included what we now know as Higher and Lower Odcombe. 

Numerous Roman, Iron Age and earlier artefacts have been found at a number of locations within the parish, including flints, pottery as well as a specialised "whetstone" for sharpening iron needles.  

Odcombe in the Anglo Saxon Period

annotated tithe map of east chinnock

Boundary ditch on modern odcombe

The village of Odcombe seems to have acquired its own identity in the Anglo-Saxon period prior to the Domesday survey of 1086. The evidence for this is in the name of Odcombe itself which appears in the Domesday Book and must therefore have been in use before 1086.

It appears as “Udecome” and is usually translated as meaning either the broad valley or the valley belonging to Uda or Oda - a local Saxon landowner. There is further evidence in the surviving line of the parish boundary of Odcombe which can be seen in the image above.

On the eastern edge of the parish, the boundary follows a deep gully in the hillside which cannot have been formed naturally. This is fully consistent with the gully being the boundary between lands of Odcombe and those of ‘West Hescombe’ - a settlement that was lost in the middle ages but has been located recently within the modern parish of West Coker.

West Hescombe also has an entry in the Domesday book and scholars have linked the two settlements of ‘Hescombe’ and Odcombe. Along the southern edge of the parish, the boundary lies close to the line of ‘Landshire Lane’ whose name provides the strongest clue that this is an ancient boundary between Odcombe and East Chinnock.

The Tithe Map drawn in 1814 shows seven field names in this area which include the element “Lancher”, which is clearly a corruption of “Landshire” meaning “land share” or boundary. These features can be seen in there image below.

You may have walked or cycled along this important ancient boundary without even knowing it !

Norman Odcombe

This is the original entry for Odcombe in the Doomsday Book

doomsday book entry. Translation to the right

Translated from Latin, it tells us that: 

Ansger (the Breton) holds Odcombe from the Count. Edmer held it before 1066; it paid tax for 5 hides. Land for 5 ploughs. In lordship 2 ploughs; 4 slaves; 2 hides. 10 villagers and 16 small holders with 3 ploughs and 3 hides. A mill which pays 7s 6d. Meadow, 20 acres; pasture, 12 acres; underwood, 1 furlong. 36 pigs; 126 sheep. The value was and is 100s.

What does all this mean?

It is clear that Odcombe was a typical, medium to large sized farming community. The local Count was Roger of Mortain, half-brother of William of Conqueror who was rewarded with vast areas of land for his part in the conquest.

A ‘hide’ is the Anglo-Saxon variable unit of land which does not have a direct modern equivalent. The Domesday description in terms of plough land, meadows, pastures and woodland is completely consistent with the modern parish.

It is truly remarkable that there was an ‘Odcombe Mill’ still recorded on the 1904 Ordnance Survey map in the corner of Montacute Park by the stream where its remains can still be seen !