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Pillow mound and `V'-shaped gully 350m north west of Great Trowlesworthy Tor forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren

A Scheduled Monument in Shaugh Prior, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.4643 / 50°27'51"N

Longitude: -4.0048 / 4°0'17"W

OS Eastings: 257807.804959

OS Northings: 64633.740098

OS Grid: SX578646

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.1939

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HT.PMK

Entry Name: Pillow mound and `V'-shaped gully 350m north west of Great Trowlesworthy Tor forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014459

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24120

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shaugh Prior

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes a pillow mound and `V'-shaped gully situated on the
gentle north facing upper slope of Little Trowlesworthy Tor overlooking the
valley of Spanish Lake. The mound and gully form part of Trowlesworthy
Warren, which includes around 64 pillow mounds and 40 vermin traps scattered
along the slopes of Little and Great Trowlesworthy Tors. The boundaries of
the warren are denoted by the River Plym, Spanish Lake and Blacka Brook.
Trowlesworthy Warren is generally accepted as the oldest surviving warren on
Dartmoor, although recently doubt has been expressed concerning its medieval
origins. However, it is known that the warren existed by 1651 when it was
occupied by John Hamblin, a skinner from Plymouth. The warren appears to have
remained in constant use from this time until the first half of the 20th
century.
The pillow mound survives as a 16.5m long, 7.5m wide and 0.7m high, flat-
topped, rectangular shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 2.7m wide
and 0.3m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction.
The `V'-shaped gully lies immediately west of the upper end of the pillow
mound. The western arm measures 17m long, 1m wide and 0.3m deep and the
eastern arm, which is 13m long, 0.9m wide and 0.25m deep, leads into the south
western corner of the ditch surrounding the pillow mound.
Gullies such as this are generally considered to be drains, although 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. Given that this
particular gully leads into the pillow mound ditch, the drainage
interpretation of this feature seems very unlikely in this circumstance.
Further archaeological features surviving in the vicinity of this monument
are the subjects of separate schedulings.
This monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.

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 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
protection.

The pillow mound and `V'-shaped gully 350m north west of Great Trowlesworthy
Tor form part of the nationally important Trowlesworthy Warren and contain
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

Sources

Books and journals
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 431
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE240, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
Robertson, J G, The Archaeology of the Upper Plym, 1991, Unpub. Ph.D. Thesis (Edinburgh)
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

Source: Historic England

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