Church porch, Fifehead Neville
Fifehead Neville shown within Dorset
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Fifehead Neville is a village in the county of Dorset in southern England. It lies within the Blackmore Vale in the North Dorset administrative district of the county, two miles (3 km) south west of the town of Sturminster Newton. It is sited on Corallian limestone soil, next to the stream of the Divelish which runs down from the high hill of Bulbarrow Hill. The village has a population of 127. Thomas Hardy, who variously lived in nearby Dorchester and Sturminster Newton, once remarked of Fifehead Neville "Never before have I seen such beauty and activity combine so harminously."
Crossing the Divelish is a Saxon or early medieval packhorse bridge. In a field bordering the Divelish the remains of two wings of a Roman villa were found in 1880 and 1903. Floor mosaics and part of a hypocaust system were uncovered. The archeological findings are on view in the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.
The name Fifehead refers to the Saxon manorial holding of five hides. A hide was roughly 120 acres (0.49 km2) and was considered enough land to support one family and its dependents. Domesday Book names Waleran the Hunter or Huntsman as owning the fief in 1086 AD. The overlordship descended to Walter Walerand (d. 1200–1) and to his daughter and co-heiress Isabel de Waleran who married William de Nevill. The overlordship was inherited by Isabel de Nevill's daughter Joan de Nevill (d. 1263), wife of Jordan de St. Martin. To differentiate Fifehead from other manorial holdings called Fifehead in Dorset (Fifehead St. Quintin and Fifehead St. Magdelen) the Neville part was added to the name.
- Wightman, R., Portrait of Dorset, Hale, 1983, p17
- ONS & Dorset County Council, 2001 Census data.
- North Dorset District Council, District Official Guide, Home Publishing Co. Ltd., c.1983, p33
- Victoria County History, A History of the County of Wiltshire, volumes 4, 11, 12, 15, A History of the County of Dorset, volume 3
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