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An enclosed stone hut circle settlement and later tin working earthworks, 540m south east of Down Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Sheepstor, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5036 / 50°30'13"N

Longitude: -3.9981 / 3°59'53"W

OS Eastings: 258401.377977

OS Northings: 69000.994738

OS Grid: SX584690

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.YQTW

Mapcode Global: FRA 27JQ.L6Z

Entry Name: An enclosed stone hut circle settlement and later tin working earthworks, 540m south east of Down Tor

Scheduled Date: 13 November 1974

Last Amended: 6 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009088

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24080

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sheepstor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes an enclosure containing 14 stone hut circles, a
number of tinworking earthworks and a length of leat situated on a south west
facing slope between Down Tor and Combshead Tor overlooking the valley of the
Narrator Brook. The enclosure boundary survives as a 2m wide rubble bank
standing up to 0.8m high, surrounding an oval area measuring 122m north east
to south west by 94m north west to south east. A post-medieval drystone wall
measuring 0.7m wide and 1.4m high sits on top of the enclosure boundary around
its entire circuit.
The stone hut circles are composed of stone and earth banks each surrounding
an internal area. All of the huts are circular in plan, and their internal
diameters vary between 3m and 7m, with the average being 4.89m. The height of
the surrounding walls varies between 0.4m and 1.5m, with the average being
0.81m. One hut includes two rooms, three huts are linked to each other by a
low rubble bank and one possesses a visible doorway.
The interior of the enclosure has seen two different types of tin mining
during the historic period. Within the north east part of the enclosure are a
series of pits associated with dumps. These pits were excavated by tinners to
gain access to the upper parts of a lode which was then mined to a relatively
shallow depth. This type of tinwork is known as a lode-back work.
The second tinworking feature is a shaft surviving as a 5m deep circular pit
associated with three large dumps standing 4m high and lying on the downslope
side of the hole. This is a shaft, which was excavated to gain access to the
same tin lode at a greater depth than was possible with the nearby lode-back
pits.
A short length of leat cuts through the southern part of the enclosure and
although now dry it would have originally carried water from the upper reaches
of the Narrator Brook to tinworks on the western side of Down Tor.
The area to the south of the monument contains a large number of small
irregularly shaped fields. The boundaries of these survive largely as
post-medieval drystone walls, although they are clearly fossilising an earlier
field system which is probably contemporary with this monument. This field
system is not included in the scheduling however, because it has been damaged
during the medieval and post-medieval periods.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Dartmoor is the largest expanse of open moorland in southern Britain and,
because of exceptional conditions of preservation, it is also one of the most
complete examples of an upland relict landscape in the whole country. The
great wealth and diversity of archaeological remains provide direct evidence
for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards.
The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites,
major land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as
later industrial remains, gives significant insights into successive changes
in the pattern of land use through time. Stone hut circles and hut settlements
were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on Dartmoor. They mostly date
from the Bronze Age, with the earliest examples on the Moor in this building
tradition dating to about 1700 BC. The stone-based round houses consist of low
walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; remains of the turf or thatch
roof are not preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups
and may lie in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. Although
they are common on the Moor, their longevity and their relationship with other
monument types provide important information on the diversity of social
organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They are
particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of
surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The enclosed stone hut circle settlement 540m south east of Down Tor survives
comparatively well and contains archaeological remains and environmental
evidence relating to the monument, the economy of its inhabitants and the
landscape in which they lived. As such, it provides a valuable insight into
the nature of Bronze Age occupation on the west side of the Moor.
This monument survives in close proximity to a stone alignment, several cairns
and a broadly contemporary field system. This evidence is supplemented by the
survival of the remains of historic tinworks. Despite having caused some
disturbance to the earlier settlement, these provide evidence for the
continued exploitation of the Moor's natural resources.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE1, (1985)
Gerrard, G.A.M., The Early Cornish Tin Industry: An Arch. & Historical Survey, 1986, Unpubl. PhD thesis, St David's, Wales
Gerrard, G.A.M., The Early Cornish Tin Industry: An Arch. & Historical Survey, 1986, Unpubl. PhD thesis, St David's, Wales
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1988)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,

Source: Historic England

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