Ancient Monuments

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Pillow mound 770m ENE of Merrivale Bridge, forming part of Merrivale Warren

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5586 / 50°33'30"N

Longitude: -4.0373 / 4°2'14"W

OS Eastings: 255787.839849

OS Northings: 75184.722111

OS Grid: SX557751

Mapcode National: GBR Q1.N6S8

Mapcode Global: FRA 27FL.8YC

Entry Name: Pillow mound 770m ENE of Merrivale Bridge, forming part of Merrivale Warren

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014655

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24210

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a pillow mound situated on the gentle west facing slope
of Over Tor overlooking the valley of the River Walkham. This mound forms
part of Merrivale Warren, which includes at least 27 pillow mounds scattered
along the lower slopes of Great Mis Tor, Little Mis Tor and Over Tor. It has
been suggested that many of the pillow mounds within the Merrivale Warren may
be of medieval date because of their unusual oval shape and association with a
nearby medieval settlement. Most of the pillow mounds lie within the
Merrivale Newtake, but some including this one, lie on open moorland just
outside the intake wall.
This pillow mound survives as a 7.4m long, 3.7m wide and 1m high, flat
topped, oval shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 1.5m wide and
0.4m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction.

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 770m ENE of Merrivale Bridge forms part of the nationally
important Merrivale Warren and contains information relating to economy and
land use as well as the exploitation of rabbits in the Walkham valley.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 82
Linehan, C D, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Deserted Sites and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, , Vol. 10, (1966), 141-2
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57NE-013, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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