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Two pillow mounds and a small area of tin streamwork earthworks 770m north of Blackaton Cross, forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren

A Scheduled Monument in Shaugh Prior, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4571 / 50°27'25"N

Longitude: -4.0156 / 4°0'56"W

OS Eastings: 257016.313

OS Northings: 63861.675

OS Grid: SX570638

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.1LB7

Mapcode Global: FRA 27GV.CCL

Entry Name: Two pillow mounds and a small area of tin streamwork earthworks 770m north of Blackaton Cross, forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014663

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24248

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shaugh Prior

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes two pillow mounds situated amongst earlier tin
streamworking earthworks within the Blacka Brook valley bottom. These mounds
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 the Moor. Sometime before 1292 Samson de
Traylesworthie was granted land for rabbit farming by Baldwin de Redvers, Earl
of Devon. Many years later in 1551, the warren was leased to William
Woollcombe. The warren appears to have remained in constant use until the
first half of the 20th century.
The western pillow mound survives as a 29.4m long, 6.8m wide and 1.2m high,
flat-topped, oblong shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 0.8m wide
and 0.3m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction.
The eastern mound is similar in character and measures 30.7m long, 5m wide and
stands up to 0.9m high. The quarry ditch surrounding the mound measures 1.3m
wide by 0.4m deep. A 15m long, 0.8m wide and 0.2m deep narrow gully leading
WSW from the western lower side of the ditch and cutting through streamwork
earthworks may represent an animal run in which rabbits and vermin could have
been trapped.
Both pillow mounds lie on top of earlier tin alluvial streamworking earthworks
and therefore are clearly more recent than the last phase of tin exploitation
in this part of the Blacka Brook.
The streamworking earthworks adjacent to the monument are not included within
the scheduling, but those below the mound, ditch and gully are included,
together with those lying in the area between the mounds. This area is
included because it contains further information relating to rabbit farming in
this part of the Upper Plym valley.
This monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.

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 770m north of Blackaton Cross 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. The adaptation of earlier spoil dumps from a
tin streamwork provides useful stratigraphical information relating to these
two activities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 431
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE240, (1985)
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, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX56SE66,
PWDRO/72/1034, (1625)

Source: Historic England

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