Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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A rectangular building 750m south east of Legis Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Shaugh Prior, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4687 / 50°28'7"N

Longitude: -4.0062 / 4°0'22"W

OS Eastings: 257718.950174

OS Northings: 65131.773275

OS Grid: SX577651

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.0W77

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HT.H14

Entry Name: A rectangular building 750m south east of Legis Tor

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014479

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24081

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shaugh Prior

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes the remains of a rectangular building, thought to
represent a shelter, situated on a narrow terrace on the eastern side of the
steep sided valley of Spanish Lake. The building is considered to be of
historic date and overlies an earlier leat earthwork. The interior of the
building measures 5m long by 3m wide and is defined by a 1m wide and 0.4m high
double faced rubble wall.
The leat earthwork is included within the scheduling where it underlies the
monument. Other features within the vicinity of this monument are the subjects
of separate schedulings.

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.
Shelters are small rectangular or oval buildings which provided temporary
accommodation for a variety of moorland workers. Some were occupied seasonally
and formed habitation for months at a time, whilst others were only used
during work hours as shelters from inclement weather. Some probably had more
than a single function, with parts of the structure being utilised for
storage. The shelters vary considerably in size, but on average have internal
dimensions of 4.8m long by 2.7m wide, and whilst most were built of drystone
walling, some were also constructed from turf. Most shelters have a visible
doorway, whilst some have fireplaces, cupboards and benches. A single building
tradition appears to have been used by the different groups of workers who
constructed shelters.
Many shelters were constructed on virgin sites, but a significant number were
built within earlier ruined structures such as prehistoric stone hut circles
and medieval long houses. The function of each shelter can generally be
ascertained by its proximity to other archaeological features. Shelters found
within or close to tin works are generally considered to have been built and
occupied by tinners, whilst those close to peat cutting earthworks were
probably used by peat cutters. Shelters are also found close to stone cutting
pits, quarries, and leats. In some circumstances a single building may have
been used at different times by more than one group of workers. Shelters found
on the open moorland, with no other obvious clues as to their function, are
probably huts built for herdsmen tending animals grazing summer pasture on the
uplands. These particular huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby
stock was moved in spring from lowland pastures to communal upland grazing
during the warmer winter months. Settlement patterns reflecting transhumance
are known from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) onwards.
At least 400 shelters of various dates survive on the Moor, although it is
expected that this number will increase with future recognition.
Shelters are relatively common on the Moor and together as a group they are
considered to form a major source of archaeological information concerning
historic activity on the open moorland and, as such, a substantial proportion
are considered worthy of protection.

The building 750m south east of Legis Tor survives comparatively well and,
given the close proximity of the Lee Moor China Clay Leat, may have been
constructed by the builders or maintenance workers involved with the leat.

Source: Historic England


MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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