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Pillow mound 530m ENE of Trowlesworthy Warren House forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren

A Scheduled Monument in Shaugh Prior, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.4665 / 50°27'59"N

Longitude: -4.0121 / 4°0'43"W

OS Eastings: 257292.268639

OS Northings: 64892.764716

OS Grid: SX572648

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.116W

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HT.DS2

Entry Name: Pillow mound 530m ENE of Trowlesworthy Warren House forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014462

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24213

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shaugh Prior

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes a pillow mound situated on the gentle north west facing
slope of Little Trowlesworthy Tor overlooking the valley of the River Plym.
This mound forms 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.
This pillow mound survives as a 12m long, 5.5m wide and 0.8m high, flat-
topped, oblong shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 2.5m wide and
0.4m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction.
Leading from the western end of this ditch is a 6m long, 0.8m wide and 0.15m
deep gully. Gullies such as this have traditionally been interpreted as
drainage ditches, but they may also have served as preferred access routes for
rabbits and vermin. Traps placed within these gullies could have been used to
control both rabbit and vermin populations.
The upper length of the pillow mound partly overlies an earlier leat which
measures 1.6m wide and 0.5m deep. Material upcast during the construction of
this leat forms a bank on its lower side and this measures 1m wide and 0.2m
high. Where the leat survives beneath the mound and within 2m of the
pillow mound ditch it is included in the scheduling.
Other archaeological features surviving within 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 530m ENE of Trowlesworthy Warren House forms part of the
nationally important Trowlesworthy Warren and contains information relating to
the exploitation of rabbits in the Upper Plym valley. The gully leading away
from the mound may contain information relating to the management and control
of rabbits and vermin.
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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