Ancient Monuments

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Eight stone hut circles and a shieling forming part of the unenclosed stone hut circle settlement at Watern Oke

A Scheduled Monument in Peter Tavy, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6328 / 50°37'58"N

Longitude: -4.0316 / 4°1'53"W

OS Eastings: 256416.958017

OS Northings: 83428.649645

OS Grid: SX564834

Mapcode National: GBR Q1.HG8D

Mapcode Global: FRA 27FD.K53

Entry Name: Eight stone hut circles and a shieling forming part of the unenclosed stone hut circle settlement at Watern Oke

Scheduled Date: 12 August 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011561

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20356

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Peter Tavy

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Widecombe-in-the-Moor St Pancras

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes eight stone hut circles and a shieling situated
immediately next to an area of clitter on a south facing slope overlooking the
valley of the River Tavy and forming part of the large unenclosed stone hut
circle settlement at Watern Oke.
Of the eight hut circles, two are attached to boundary walls. Six of the huts
are circular in plan and the internal diameters of these vary from 2.3m to
4.3m. Two huts are oval in plan; these vary in length between 3.5m and 7.4m
and in width from 2m to 3m. The average height of all the walls is 0.76m.
Excavations by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee in June 1905 revealed that
seven of the huts contain hearths.
The shieling is a rectangular one-roomed structure with coursed stone walls.
This is later in date than the hut circles, probably dating to the medieval
period. The interior of the structure measures 7.4m long by 3m wide and has
1.7m wide walls standing up to 1m high. Excavations revealed a fire-place in
the south-west corner.
This monument forms part of one of the largest unenclosed stone hut circle
settlements on Dartmoor.

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 unenclosed stone hut circle settlement at Watern Oke is one of the largest
on Dartmoor and, despite partial excavation, important and informative
archaeological structures, features and deposits still survive. Such evidence
will provide a valuable insight into the economy of the site's inhabitants and
the landscape in which they lived.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Anderson, I K, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Hut Circle Settlement at Watern Oke, (1906), 109
Anderson, I K, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Hut Circle Settlement at Watern Oke, (1906), 108
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
Schofield, AJ, Single Monument Class Description - Shielings, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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