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Two stone hut circles, a reave, round cairn and shelter south east of Sharpitor

A Scheduled Monument in Walkhampton, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5141 / 50°30'50"N

Longitude: -4.0299 / 4°1'47"W

OS Eastings: 256179.824016

OS Northings: 70222.956822

OS Grid: SX561702

Mapcode National: GBR Q1.R2P1

Mapcode Global: FRA 27FP.ZST

Entry Name: Two stone hut circles, a reave, round cairn and shelter south east of Sharpitor

Scheduled Date: 1 June 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011167

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22282

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Walkhampton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes a north west-south east orientated reave and, set
along the north side of it, two stone hut circles, a round cairn and shelter,
situated on a gentle east-facing slope overlooking the valley of the River
Meavy. Both stone hut circles are terraced into the hillslope and are composed
of stone and earth walls surrounding an internal area. The northern hut is
oval in shape, measures 3.6m long by 2.4m wide and is defined by a 1.2m wide
wall standing up to 0.2m high. A gap in the southern wall represents an
original doorway. The southern hut, which is attached to the north eastern
side of the Leather Tor reave, is also oval in shape, with 1m wide and 0.4m
high walls surrounding an interior measuring 2.2m long by 1.6m wide. The
doorway leading from this structure faces north east.
The Leather Tor Reave extends for 255m from the clitter on the east side of
Sharpitor to the clitter north of Leather Tor. The reave survives as a 0.7m
high, prominent rubble bank with an average width of 3.5m. In the southern
half of its length, there are 11 gaps, but none appear to be original. The
Leather Tor reave is a transverse boundary, which would have originally lead
at a right angle from the Walkhampton Common reave and would have sub-divided
open pasture land.
The round cairn measures 5.3m in diameter and stands up to 0.6m high. A
hollow in the northern side of the mound, suggests partial early excavation or
robbing.
The stone shelter is probably of medieval date. The interior of the building
is rectangular in shape, measures 6m long by 3.7m wide and is defined by a 1m
wide rubble wall standing up to 0.3m high. A gap in the south west wall
represents an original doorway.

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.

In addition to the stone hut circles the monument includes a length of reave,
which forms part of a coaxial field system. The reaves are part of an
extensive system of prehistoric land division introduced during the Bronze
Age. They consist of simple linear stone banks used to mark out discrete
territories, some of which are tens of kilometres in extent. The systems are
defined by parallel, contour and watershed reaves, dividing the lower land
from the grazing zones of the higher moor and defining the watersheds of
adjacent river systems. Occupation sites and funerary or ceremonial monuments
are often incorporated in, or associated with, reave complexes. Their
longevity and their relationship with other monument types provide information
on the diversity of social organisation, land divisions and farming practices
amongst prehistoric communities. They show considerable longevity as a
monument type, sometimes surviving as fossilised examples in medieval field
plans. They are an important element in the existing landscape and, as such, a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
protection.
The monument also includes a round cairn. Round cairns are Bronze Age funerary
monuments which 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
variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide 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
preservation. Dartmoor provides one of the best preserved and most dense
concentrations of round cairns in south western Britain.
The final component of the monument is a medieval shelter. These structures
provided temporary accommodation for shepherds, peat-cutters, tinners and
others who worked on the Moor. The shelters contain information relating to
seasonal and occasional use of the moor during the medieval and post-medieval
periods.
The two stone hut circles, length of reave, round cairn and medieval
shelter south east of Sharpitor survive comparatively well and lie within an
area containing a large number of contemporary settlements, fields and
enclosures.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 50
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE187,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE188,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE277,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE278,
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE119,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE122,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE123,
Raymond, F, Single Monument Class Description - Coaxial Field Systems, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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