Ancient Monuments

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Two pillow mounds and a small area of tin streamwork 510m south west of Ditsworthy Warren House forming part of Willings Walls Warren

A Scheduled Monument in Sheepstor, Devon

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Latitude: 50.476 / 50°28'33"N

Longitude: -4.0021 / 4°0'7"W

OS Eastings: 258033.63472

OS Northings: 65930.29368

OS Grid: SX580659

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.0HSH

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HS.YF5

Entry Name: Two pillow mounds and a small area of tin streamwork 510m south west of Ditsworthy Warren House forming part of Willings Walls Warren

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014467

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24218

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sheepstor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes two pillow mounds situated amongst earlier tin
streamworking earthworks within the Plym valley bottom. These mounds form
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.
The northern pillow mound survives as a 13.4m long, 5m wide and 1.2m high,
flat-topped, oblong shaped mound of soil and stone, whilst the southern one
measures 12.3m long, 5m wide and 1.2m high. These pillow mounds lie on top
of earlier alluvial tin streamworking earthworks and are therefore clearly
more recent than the last phase of tin exploitation in this part of the River
The streamwork earthworks below and between the mounds are included in the

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 two pillow mounds 510m south west of Ditsworthy Warren House form part of
the nationally important Willings Walls Warren and contain information
relating to the exploitation of rabbits in the Upper Plym valley. The
adaptation of earlier spoil dumps from a tin streamwork provides
stratigraphical information relating to these two important activities.
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
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE236,
Gerrard, G.A.M., The Early Cornish Tin Industry: An Arch. & Historical Survey, 1986, Unpubl. PhD thesis, St David's, Wales
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
PWDRO/72/1034, (1625)
PWDRO/72/990/51,31, (1583)

Source: Historic England

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