Ancient Monuments

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A stone hut circle forming part of an unenclosed settlement, and tinners' building at Watern Oke

A Scheduled Monument in Peter Tavy, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6329 / 50°37'58"N

Longitude: -4.024 / 4°1'26"W

OS Eastings: 256953.240023

OS Northings: 83421.834399

OS Grid: SX569834

Mapcode National: GBR Q1.HJ65

Mapcode Global: FRA 27GD.G3Z

Entry Name: A stone hut circle forming part of an unenclosed settlement, and tinners' building at Watern Oke

Scheduled Date: 12 August 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011568

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20363

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 a stone hut circle and a medieval or post-medieval
rectangular tinners' building situated on a gentle south-facing slope
overlooking the River Tavy; the hut circle forms part of the large unenclosed
stone hut circle settlement at Watern Oke. The stone hut circle is terraced
into the hillslope and is composed of a stone and earth wall 1.6m wide and
0.7m high, surrounding an internal area measuring 2.3m in diameter. The
tinners' building is composed of a rectangular drystone wall, 1.2m wide and
0.8m high, surrounding an internal area of 5.8m long by 3.2m wide. A large
earthfast boulder lies in the centre of the room and the doorway faces east.
During June and July 1905 these structures were partially excavated by the
Dartmoor Exploration Committee. There is no record of findings within the
stone hut circle, though it was interpreted by the excavators as a cook-house.
The excavation of the tinners' building strongly suggests that it was built
on top of an earlier hut; finds included a large rubbing stone,
pottery and a flint arrowhead. A corroded piece of iron also found in this
structure was probably a knife contemporary with the later building.

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.
Tinners' buildings are the shelters and storage structures used by medieval
and post-medieval tinners. They are found in close association with both
streamworks and mines. They contain important information concerning the scale
and character of tin exploitation on Dartmoor. The tinners' building at Watern
Oke is situated in close proximity to a streamwork and was probably built on
top of an earlier stone hut circle.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Anderson, I K, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Hut Circle Settlement at Watern Oke, , Vol. 38, (1906), 112
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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