Ancient Monuments

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Pillow mound 620m ESE of Legis Tor forming part of Willings Walls Warren

A Scheduled Monument in Shaugh Prior, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4711 / 50°28'15"N

Longitude: -4.0067 / 4°0'24"W

OS Eastings: 257689.503316

OS Northings: 65393.7251

OS Grid: SX576653

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.0NMP

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HT.8VF

Entry Name: Pillow mound 620m ESE of Legis Tor forming part of Willings Walls Warren

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014457

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24223

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shaugh Prior

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a pillow mound situated within a valley bottom terrace
adjacent to the River Plym. This mound forms part of Willings Walls Warren,
which includes at least 18 pillow mounds scattered along the hillside and in
the valley bottoms between Spanish Lake and Hentor Brook. Willings Walls
Warren, which covers an area of approximately 113ha, was established by at
least 1807, when a lease granted by Lord Boringdon to Peter Nicholls, a
warrener from Sheepstor, clearly indicates that it formed part of Hentor
Warren. Hentor Farm is considered to have been used as the warren house. The
reason why this part of Hentor Warren was given a separate name is unclear,
but it may refer back to a time when it was operated separately. Sometime
shortly after 1815 the warren was taken over by and worked from nearby
Ditsworthy and continued in use until the 1930s.
This pillow mound survives as a 20m long, 7m wide and 1m high, flat-topped,
rectangular shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 2m wide and 0.3m
deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. An 18m
long, 0.8m wide and 0.4m deep narrow gully leads south west from the lower end
of the ditch towards the nearby streamwork. Gullies such as this are
generally considered to be drains, though their location on steep well drained
slopes suggests that some at least may have served as animal runs leading to
vermin traps or snares. Vermin approaching their quarry tend to seek a route
that provides visual cover, and gullies such as this could have been excavated
to control their movement.

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 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.
Warrens are areas of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits
or hares. They usually include a series of purpose-built breeding places,
known as pillow mounds and buries, vermin traps and enclosures designed to
contain and protect the animals, and living quarters for the warrener who kept
charge of the warren.
Pillow mounds are low oblong-shaped mounds of soil and/or stones in which the
animals lived. They are usually between 15m and 40m long and between 5m and
10m wide. Most have a ditch around at least three sides to facilitate
drainage. Inside are a series of narrow interconnecting trenches. These were
excavated and covered with stone or turf before the mound was constructed.
Vermin traps of various kinds are found within most warrens. These include a
small stone-lined passage into which the predator was funnelled by a series of
ditches or walls. Over 100 vermin traps have been recorded on the Moor, with
the majority lying in the Plym Valley.
Warren boundaries were often defined by a combination of natural features such
as rivers. Within the warrens themselves smaller enclosed areas defined by a
ditch and bank are sometimes found, and some of these may have been
specialised breeding areas. Many of the warrens on the Moor contain a house in
which the warrener lived.
Most of the surviving warren earthworks probably date to between the 17th
century and the later 19th century, with some continuing in use into the early
20th century. At least 22 warrens are known to exist on the Moor and together
they contribute to our understanding of the medieval and post-medieval
exploitation of the area. All well-preserved warrens are considered worthy of

The pillow mound 620m ESE of Legis Tor survives well, forms part of the
nationally important Willings Walls Warren and contains information relating
to the exploitation of rabbits in the Upper Plym valley. This valley contains
the densest concentration of pillow mounds and other structures associated
with rabbit farming on the Moor.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Brewer, D, A field guide to the boundary markers on and around Dartmoor, (1986), 52-4
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE237, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE135,

Source: Historic England

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