Ancient Monuments

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Three pillow mounds 720m ENE of Merrivale Bridge, forming part of Merrivale Warren

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5588 / 50°33'31"N

Longitude: -4.038 / 4°2'16"W

OS Eastings: 255736.418919

OS Northings: 75205.81585

OS Grid: SX557752

Mapcode National: GBR Q1.N6LQ

Mapcode Global: FRA 27FL.8NH

Entry Name: Three pillow mounds 720m ENE of Merrivale Bridge, forming part of Merrivale Warren

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014673

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24203

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes three pillow mounds situated on the gentle west facing
slope of Over Tor overlooking the valley of the River Walkham. These mounds
form 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 these three, lie on open
moorland just outside the intake wall.
All three pillow mounds survive as flat topped, oval shaped mounds of soil
and stone surrounded on four sides by the ditches from which material was
quarried during their construction. The western mound measures 6m long, 2m
wide and 0.7m high and the surrounding ditch is 1.2m wide and up to 0.3m deep.
The northern mound is 8m long, 3m wide and 0.7m high and its ditch is 1.6m
wide and 0.3m deep. The eastern mound measures 5m long, 2.3m wide and 0.8m
high, and its ditch is 1.2m wide and 0.3m deep.

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 three pillow mounds 720m ENE of Merrivale Bridge form part of the
nationally important Merrivale Warren and contain information relating to
economy and land use as well as the exploitation of rabbits in the Walkham

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, (1966), 141-2
Linehan, C D, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Deserted Sites and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, (1966), 141-2
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57NE-013, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX57NE29,

Source: Historic England

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