Ancient Monuments

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Two partially enclosed stone hut circle settlements and a round cairn on the eastern slope of Oke Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Belstone, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6893 / 50°41'21"N

Longitude: -3.9613 / 3°57'40"W

OS Eastings: 261558.768398

OS Northings: 89573.81577

OS Grid: SX615895

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.YVN8

Mapcode Global: FRA 27L8.2L1

Entry Name: Two partially enclosed stone hut circle settlements and a round cairn on the eastern slope of Oke Tor

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016640

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28723

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Belstone

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Widecombe-in-the-Moor St Pancras

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument, which falls into eight areas, includes two partially enclosed
stone hut circle settlements and a round cairn situated on the eastern slope
of Oke Tor overlooking the valley of the River Taw. The northern settlement
survives as two enclosures and four stone hut circles. The northern enclosure
links two huts, whilst the southern enclosure has one hut. The fourth hut
lies between the two enclosures. A length of broadly contemporary reave leads
towards the northern enclosure. The southern settlement includes at least six
enclosures together with four stone hut circles. Most of the enclosures are
agglomerated and are partially sealed by the peat deposits which cover this
The stone hut circles within both settlements survive as circular or oval
banks each surrounding an internal area which varies from 6 to 32 square
metres, with the average being 13 square metres. The height of the surrounding
walls varies between 0.3m and 0.8m, with the average being 0.46m. Two of the
huts have an annex, one has a visible doorway, four are butted by enclosure
walling, and they all are of single orthostatic or rubble bank construction.
Lying midway between the two settlements is a 4.9m diameter flat topped
cairn standing up to 0.7m high. A kerb formed by at least eight edge set
stones surrounds the mound, which does not appear to have been investigated by

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.

The two partially enclosed stone hut circle settlements and round cairn on the
eastern slope of Oke Tor survive well and form part of a group of at least
three settlements situated within the upper reaches of the Taw River. Deep
peat deposits covering much of the monument have preserved the sensitive
archaeological deposits and structures, whilst also containing important
environmental information. Settlements such as these provide valuble insights
into Bronze Age activity on the high moorland. The very well preserved cairn
lying midway between the settlements probably performed a land division
function at the local level as well as providing a funerary role.

Source: Historic England


MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1998)

Source: Historic England

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