Ancient Monuments

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Historic settlement, fields and tin openwork at Shavercombe Foot 400m north of Shavercombe Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Sheepstor, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4821 / 50°28'55"N

Longitude: -3.9836 / 3°59'1"W

OS Eastings: 259361.629372

OS Northings: 66572.669893

OS Grid: SX593665

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.62HQ

Mapcode Global: FRA 27JS.CV2

Entry Name: Historic settlement, fields and tin openwork at Shavercombe Foot 400m north of Shavercombe Tor

Scheduled Date: 16 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015745

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24228

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sheepstor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes an historic settlement, at least two fields, part of a
tin openwork and several prospecting features situated on the northern side of
the Shavercombe Brook.
The historic settlement includes a small, well-preserved, two-compartment,
rectangular structure with two external annexes and an attached yard. Its
walls are of drystone construction, 1.2m wide and the faces are clearly
visible, particularly on the north east side of the north western compartment.
The internal partition lies 13.2m from the north western end and a depression
at the south western end may denote a doorway between the two compartments.
There are two possible external entrances, both into the larger north western
compartment. That in the north eastern wall is indicated by a 0.9m wide gap,
3.8m from the north west end. The other, and more convincing entry point, is
flanked by regular masonry on the south eastern side of a 0.8m wide gap
situated in the south western wall, 7m from the north western end. Attached to
the outer face of the south western wall on either side of the entrance are
two small square annexes. The larger one on the north western side of the
entrance encloses an area measuring 2.5m by 3m and is defined by a 1.2m wide
wall. A gap in the north western wall may have provided access. The smaller
annexe on the south east side of entrance measures 1.8 sq m and is defined by
a 0.6m wide wall. A small yard attached to the south east end of the structure
measures 15m long by 14m wide and is defined by a 2.6m wide and 0.3m high
rubble wall. Leading north eastward from the north eastern side of this yard
is a boundary bank which measures 1.5m wide and 0.2m high. An associated ditch
lies immediately south east of this bank and measures 2m wide by 0.3m deep.
The northern end of this boundary is truncated by the tin openwork.
The settlement lies within another field which had also been truncated by the
openwork. This field measures 95m by at least 125m and is defined by a 3m wide
rubble wall standing up to 0.5m high. Within the field are a number of narrow
shallow gullies which are probably the result of tin prospecting.
This settlement may be Hentor Cot, the residence of a farm labourer, employed
by Peter Nicholls of Hentor Farm in the early 19th century. However, the
settlement is likely to have had an earlier origin. The large field is likely
to have been out of use by the 19th century as it appears to have been
truncated by the openwork.
The length of openwork within the monument survives as a 5m deep and 20m wide
steep sided gully. The openwork was formed by the opencast quarrying of tin
ore. On the southern side of the openwork are a series of much narrower and
shallower gullies. These probably represent the remnants of prospecting
trenches excavated with the aid of running water.
Further lengths of the openwork and other tinwork structures in the vicinity
of the monument are not included in the scheduling because they are not
currently considered to be of national importance. However, other
archaeological features surviving in the vicinity of this monument are the
subjects of separate schedulings.
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

The settlement at Shavercombe Foot is certainly of historic date and was
undoubtedly occupied in the 19th century. It may have medieval origins, but
most likely represents an 18th century small scale colonisation of the Moor by
a part-time tinner. Settlements of this type are common in Cornwall, but are
much rarer on Dartmoor, although examples do exist in the vicinity of some
tinworks. As a group of monuments they represent one of the few sources of
archaeological information concerning the relationship between tinworking and
agriculture and well preserved examples surviving in the vicinity of tinworks
are therefore considered particularly important.
One of the earliest forms of tin mine known in the south west of England is
the openwork. They survive as steep sided elongated gullies and are often
associated with leats and reservoirs. Openworks were formed by opencast
quarrying of a tin lode. Although relatively rare in Cornwall, they form a
characteristic element of the Dartmoor landscape. Many of the examples on the
Moor probably date to the medieval period, although some may be later.

Source: Historic England


Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

Source: Historic England

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