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Prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, a contemporary field system, post-medieval buildings and two lengths of leat 310m south east of Yealm Steps

A Scheduled Monument in Cornwood, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.455 / 50°27'17"N

Longitude: -3.945 / 3°56'41"W

OS Eastings: 262025.547941

OS Northings: 63490.8488

OS Grid: SX620634

Mapcode National: GBR Q6.MSHJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 27MV.GXZ

Entry Name: Prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, a contemporary field system, post-medieval buildings and two lengths of leat 310m south east of Yealm Steps

Scheduled Date: 18 July 1961

Last Amended: 8 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015429

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24100

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Cornwood

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes a large prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, three
enclosures, a contemporary field system, two post-medieval buildings and two
lengths of leat, lying on a south-facing slope overlooking the valley of the
River Yealm.
The prehistoric settlement includes an agglomerate enclosure containing 25
stone hut circles, a small oval enclosure containing 2 huts and a scatter of
16 huts situated within a field system. The agglomerate enclosure survives as
two sub-circular parts lying across the slope and covers an area of 1.9ha.
The western enclosure is the earliest. This covers 0.7ha and is defined by a
3m wide and 0.6m high rubble wall. A clearly defined entrance into this
enclosure survives in the south west circuit, but other gaps in the north and
south east may be of more recent origin. At least five stone hut circles lie
within this enclosure. A gap in the eastern circuit wall of the enclosure
leads into the second, later and larger enclosure. This enclosure covers 1.2ha
and is defined by a 2.5m wide and 1m high rubble wall. Nineteen stone hut
circles lie within this enclosure, one is attached to the southern outer face
and another lies either side of the boundary between the two enclosures. This
last hut appears to underlie the enclosure boundary and this would suggest
that some of the huts may have been constructed before the enclosure. The
stone hut circles within the agglomerate enclosure survive as banks of stone
and earth surrounding oval or circular internal areas. Twenty-three of the
huts are circular in shape and their internal diameters vary between 2m and
6.6m with the average being 4.33m. Two huts are oval, and their interiors
measure 5.7m long by 3.7m wide and 4.5m long by 3.2m wide respectively. The
height of all the surrounding walls varies between 0.2m and 0.9m with the
average being 0.64m. Seventeen of the huts have visible doorways, four are
attached to the enclosure boundary, two include more than a single room, two
possess annexes, one has a porch, one is attached to an internal boundary bank
and two are cut by later leats. The stone hut circle attached to the southern
outer face of the enclosure measures 5.3m in diameter and the surrounding wall
is 3m wide and 0.7m high. This hut has seen limited damage as a result of a
leat being cut through it during the post-medieval period.
In the area south of the agglomerate enclosure are 16 huts and a cairn lying
within a field system. The field system survives as a large number of partly
lyncheted disjointed rubble banks many of which are either connected to
huts or surround them. Fifteen of the huts are circular in shape and their
internal diameters vary between 3.9m and 8m with the average being 5.25m. The
interior of the oval hut measures 3.3m long by 2.5m wide. The height of all
the surrounding walls varies between 0.3m and 1m with the average being 0.67m.
Thirteen of the huts have visible doorways, five are attached to field
boundaries and one has a forecourt. The cairn mound measures 5m in diameter
and stands up to 0.6m high. Given the proximity of this mound to nearby huts
it seems most likely to have been associated with the field clearance linked
to the field system within this area.
The final enclosure lies south of the field system and includes an oval shaped
area measuring 60m long by 30m wide defined by a 1.5m wide and 0.5m high
rubble bank on three sides and by the steep scarp down to the Ranny Brook on
the south eastern edge. This enclosure contains two stone hut circles. The
interior of the southern hut measures 4.5m in diameter and is defined by a 2m
wide wall standing up to 0.7m high. The doorway survives as a gap in the
surrounding wall, is partly blocked and faces south. The northern hut is
attached to the enclosure boundary, measures 4.7m in diameter and is
surrounded by a 2.5m wide and 0.75m high wall. An annex attached to the
eastern wall of the hut measures 4.7m long by 3m wide.
Two post-medieval buildings survive within this monument and both are attached
to the agglomerate enclosure boundary. The first is a cache, or small storage
building, and includes a coursed drystone structure with an interior measuring
1.6m square, defined by a 0.9m wide and 0.8m high wall. The purpose of this
cache is uncertain, though it may have been constructed and used by the
builders of the nearby leats. The second building is a shelter of drystone
construction and rectangular shape. The interior measures 2.5m long by 1.8m
wide and is defined by a 1.2m wide and 0.9m high wall. This building is
probably a shelter constructed by shepherds, who perhaps reused the
prehistoric enclosure as an animal pound.
Two leats cut through the agglomerate enclosure and some of the huts. The
upper of these leats survives largely as a buried feature and is most clearly
visible where it cuts through the agglomerate enclosure and two stone hut
circles. Where it survives as a slight earthwork, the channel measures 0.5m
wide and 0.1m deep and the associated material upcast during the construction
survives as an indistinct bank up to 0.1m high. The second leat survives as a
linear hollow measuring 1.5m wide and 0.2m deep and the associated bank is
1.7m wide and 0.3m high. Both leats were probably cut to carry water from the
River Yealm to a tin streamwork situated 270m east of the settlement.
Further stone hut circles lying to the north and east of this monument are the
subject of separate schedulings.

MAP EXTRACT
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. Stone hut circles and hut settlements
were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on Dartmoor. They mostly date
from the Bronze Age, with the earliest examples on the Moor in this building
tradition dating to about 1700 BC. The stone-based round houses consist of low
walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; remains of the turf or thatch
roof are not preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups
and may lie in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. Although
they are common on the Moor, their longevity and their relationship with other
monument types provide important information on the diversity of social
organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They are
particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of
surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

In addition to the prehistoric settlement there is an associated field system
and cairn. The field system is fragmentary in character and it is therefore
not possible to determine its precise character or extent. Deep peat deposits
within this area have obscured much of the detail of the individual plots,
though this material will have also provided a protective covering as well as
containing environmental information relating to the field system. The cairn
should probably be seen as forming part of this field system and is probably
not of funerary origin. The two post-medieval buildings, together with the
leats provide evidence for continued exploitation of the moor. The prehistoric
stone hut circle settlement 310m south east of Yealm Steps survives
comparatively well and contains archaeological remains and environmental
evidence relating to the monument, the economy of its inhabitants and the
landscape in which they lived. As such, it provides a valuable insight into
the nature of Bronze Age occupation on the south side of the Moor. The multi-
phase character of the settlement will provide information concerning the
changing domestic and agricultural requirements of an upland Bronze Age
society.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW211,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW212,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW254,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW255,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW256,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW257,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW258,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW259,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW261,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW262,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66SW32,
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles,
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1988)
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1988)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
National Archaeological Record, SX66SW30,

Source: Historic England

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