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A prehistoric settlement complex, length of reave, tin streamwork and stamping mill on the western slopes of Cosdon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Belstone, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7045 / 50°42'16"N

Longitude: -3.9453 / 3°56'42"W

OS Eastings: 262733.666846

OS Northings: 91229.079878

OS Grid: SX627912

Mapcode National: GBR Q6.3SG1

Mapcode Global: FRA 27M6.W8D

Entry Name: A prehistoric settlement complex, length of reave, tin streamwork and stamping mill on the western slopes of Cosdon Hill

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015760

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28800

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Belstone

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: South Tawton St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Details

This monument includes an extensive prehistoric settlement complex, a length
of the Taw Marsh territorial reave and an eluvial tin streamwork, together
with two reservoirs, a leat and stamping mill. Most of the settlement complex
lies on the eastern side of the Taw Marsh reave and survives as clusters of
both enclosed and unenclosed stone hut circles. A total of at least 54 stone
hut circles survive as stone and earth banks surrounding an oval or circular
shaped internal area. There are four discrete clusters, the largest of which
is adjacent to the reave and includes at least 22 hut circles, two simple and
one agglomerated enclosure. Within this cluster six of the huts are
unenclosed. A short distance to the east lies a further simple enclosure
containing five stone hut circles. A further hut is linked to the enclosure
wall and another lies just outside its perimeter. South of this enclosure
lies another simple oval shaped enclosure which contains three stone hut
circles. To the east of this enclosure lies the fourth element of this
settlement complex and this survives as a cluster of at least 19 unenclosed
and three partially enclosed stone hut circles.
The settlement complex extends to the west of the Taw Marsh reave and here
it survives as a cluster of 32 stone hut circles, six of which are connected
to fragmentary lengths of boundary wall. Six clearance cairns surviving within
the vicinity of the settlement suggest farming activity.
The Taw Marsh reave which separates the settlement complex is considered
to represent the western edge of the prehistoric territory known as Cosdon.
Within the monument it survives as a linear earthwork measuring 3m wide and
0.7m high and leads from SX 62759173 to SX 62218926. For most of its length
it is covered in peat and its stone core is only visible in those places where
the peat has been eroded. The reave is cut by the tin streamworks on the
Small Brook and Ivy Tor Water.
The eluvial tin streamwork on the Ivy Tor Water survives as a substantial
hollow and within it the linear banks representing the spoil dumps thrown up
during the systematic extraction of the tin deposits are clearly visible.
Within the southern part of the streamwork the parallel dumps are curved, but
elsewhere they form straight lines. In most instances, the dumps lie parallel
with the Ivy Tor Water, although in some places they lie at right angles to
the stream. There is evidence of several distinct periods of working. At
least some of the water used by the streamwork was derived from the slopes of
Cosdon Hill via a leat which in the first instance carried water to two
reservoirs in which it was held before being released. Within the streamwork
at SX 62859176 a stamping mill in which tin ore was crushed is visible. The
mill building survives as a rectangular drystone structure with internal
dimensions of 4.2m long by 2.5m wide. This is one of the smallest mill
buildings known on Dartmoor and its size is much more reminiscent of a
tinners' shelter. The buddles in which the crushed tin was separated and
concentrated lie immediately north east of the mill building and survive as
small triangular hollows. This mill probably crushed ore derived from the
nearby streamwork.
Other archaeological features surviving within the vicinity of this monument
are the subject of separate schedulings. The area surrounding the monument may
contain further archaeological features and deposits, but these are not
included because they are not visible and cannot therefore be accurately
mapped or assessed.

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 settlement complex the monument includes a length of
territorial reave. The reaves are part of an extensive system of prehistoric
land division introduced during the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They consist
of simple linear stone banks used to mark out discrete territories, some of
which are tens of kilometres in extent. The systems are defined by parallel,
contour and watershed reaves, dividing the lower land from the grazing zones
of the higher moor and defining the watersheds of adjacent river systems.
Occupation sites and funerary or ceremonial monuments are often incorporated
in, or associated with, reave complexes. Their longevity and their
relationship with other monument types provide important information on the
diversity of social organisation, land divisions and farming practices amongst
prehistoric communities. They show considerable longevity as a monument type,
sometimes surviving as fossilised examples in medieval field plans. They are
an important element in the existing landscape and, as such, a substantial
proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.
Within the monument there is also a well preserved group of historic
tinworking earthworks including an eluvial streamwork together with its water
supply and a stamping mill.
The Cosdon Hill prehistoric settlement complex is one the best preserved
and largest on the Moor, and the tinwork adjacent to the Taw Marsh Reave is a
particularly fine example of a clearly defined, multi-phase eluvial
streamwork.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 202
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 202
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 201
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 54
Gerrard, S, 'The Archaeology of Dartmoor: Perspectives from the 1990s' in The Dartmoor Tin Industry: An Archaeological Perspective, (1994), 182
Gerrard, S, 'The Archaeology of Dartmoor: Perspectives from the 1990s' in The Dartmoor Tin Industry: An Archaeological Perspective, (1994), 182
Greeves, T, 'Dartmoor Magazine' in Blowing And Knocking - The Dartmoor Tin Mill Before 1750, , Vol. 23, (1991), 20
Other
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1996)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1996)
National Monuments Record, SX6391/4/197, (1977)

Source: Historic England

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