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An enclosed stone hut circle settlement, round cairn, pillow mound and tinworking earthworks 820m WSW of Nun's Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5113 / 50°30'40"N

Longitude: -3.9807 / 3°58'50"W

OS Eastings: 259659.745477

OS Northings: 69815.552035

OS Grid: SX596698

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.498X

Mapcode Global: FRA 27KQ.109

Entry Name: An enclosed stone hut circle settlement, round cairn, pillow mound and tinworking earthworks 820m WSW of Nun's Cross

Scheduled Date: 6 January 1972

Last Amended: 6 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009093

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24123

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartmoor Forest

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes an agglomerated enclosure, ten stone hut circles, a
round cairn, a pillow mound, a number of tinworking earthworks and a length of
leat straddling a shallow north-facing valley overlooking Newleycombe Lake.
The enclosure is composed of three conjoined enclosures defined by a partly
faced rubble wall measuring 1.5m wide and up to 0.5m high. The interior of
the southern enclosure measures 80m north to south by 90m east to west and the
north western enclosure, which is sub-triangular in shape, measures 44m north
to south by 37m east to west. The original dimensions of the third enclosure
are no longer discernible following later tin streamworking which has removed
part of its extent. There are three gaps in the boundaries which may
represent original entrances, although it is possible that they may be the
result of limited post-medieval stone robbing. Three stone hut circles lie
within the largest enclosure, three further examples are attached to the inner
face of the boundary and another is linked to this same wall. Another hut is
linked to the sub-triangular enclosure boundary wall. The two remaining huts
lie immediately south of the enclosures and are not enclosed in any way.
The stone hut circles are composed of stone and earth banks each
surrounding an internal area. Nine of the huts are circular in plan, and
their internal diameters vary between 2.5m and 5.2m, with the average being
3.79m. The height of the surrounding walls varies between 0.4m and 0.7m, with
the average being 0.52m. The interior of the remaining hut is oval in plan,
measures 3.5m long by 2m wide and is surrounded by a 1.1m wide and 0.4m high
wall. Four of the huts possess visible doorways.
A round cairn stands on the crest of the east-facing slope overlooking the
interior of the large enclosure, although it is not clear whether it is
earlier, contemporary or later than the settlement. The mound measures 7m in
diameter and stands up to 1.3m high. A hollow in the centre of the mound,
suggests partial early excavation or robbing.
A pillow mound lies in the north eastern enclosure and survives as a 10m long,
5.6m wide and 1.2m high, flat-topped, oblong shaped mound of soil and stone
surrounded by a 2.5m wide and 0.6m deep ditch from which material was quarried
during the construction of the mound. A clearly defined shallow gully leads
for 3m from the lower end of the mound. These gullies have traditonally been
interpreted as drainage ditches, but they may also have served as preferred
access routes for rabbits and vermin. Traps placed within these gullies could
have been used to control both rabbit and vermin populations. This pillow
mound is not known to belong to a warren and may have been constructed by the
tinners working the nearby tinworks, to help supplement their diet.
The monument also includes part of a tinwork, which survives as a gully and
series of pits with associated 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 gully
lies downslope of the pits and may represent a drainage level or small-scale
opencast work. Within the enclosure the gully measures 2.5m wide and up to
1.7m deep.
A leat cutting through the centre of the large enclosure measures 0.8m wide
and 0.1m deep and the associated bank of material upcast downslope during
construction is 1m wide and 0.1m high. This leat originally carried water
from SX 59796985 to a wheelpit at SX 59266994, a reservoir at SX 58066960 and
opencast tin mines known as openworks at SX 58206965, SX 57606965 and
SX 57636920.
The areas north and south of the monument include post-medieval tinworks which
are not included in the scheduling. An enclosed settlement lying a short
distance to the south west of this monument is the subject of a separate

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.

In addition to the enclosed settlement, the monument includes a round cairn.
Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age
(about 2000-700 BC). They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, the
latter predominating in areas of upland Britain where such raw materials were
locally available in abundance. Round cairns may cover single or multiple
burials and are sometimes surrounded by an outer ditch. Often occupying
prominent locations, they are a major visual element in the modern landscape.
Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provides
important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation
amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative
of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection. Dartmoor provides one of the best preserved
and most dense concentrations of round cairns in south western Britain.
The monument also includes a pillow mound which is a purpose-built breeding
place and shelter for rabbits or hares. Pillow mounds are low oblong shaped
mounds of soil and/or stones in which the animals lived. They are usually
between 15m and 40m in length and between 5m and 10m in width. Most have a
ditch around at least three sides to facilitate drainage. Inside, are a
series of interconnected narrow trenches excavated and covered with stone or
turf before the mound was erected. Pillow mounds usually occur together in
groups within a warren, but this example, unusually, is isolated and does not
form part of a warren.
The final components of the monument are a length of leat and part of a
tinwork. These features are associated with the post-medieval exploitation of
the rich tin deposits found on Dartmoor.
The enclosed stone hut circle settlement 820m WSW of Nun's Cross survives
comparatively well despite limited post-medieval interference. This monument
forms the largest part of the only settlement on Dartmoor where an agglomerate
enclosure containing huts both inside and outside the enclosed area is
associated with a separate agglomerated enclosure in which all the huts lie
within or are attached to the enclosure boundaries. The cairn lying within
the settlement lies on the interface between the nearby tin deposits and
grazing land and may contain information concerning both or either of these

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Crossing, W, Crossing's Dartmoor Worker, (1992), 61
Newman, P, 'Rep. Trans. Devon. As. Advnt. Sci.' in The Moorland Meavy - A Tinners' Landscape, , Vol. 119, (1987), 223-235
AM 107, Robinson, R, Pounds and hut circles at head of Newleycombe Lake, (1983)
AM 107, Robinson, R, Pounds and hut circles at head of Newleycombe Lake, (1983)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE123, (1981)
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, (1987)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE107,

Source: Historic England

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