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Pillow mound 145m south east of Eastington Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Langton Matravers, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.599 / 50°35'56"N

Longitude: -2.0239 / 2°1'25"W

OS Eastings: 398406.722979

OS Northings: 77698.989018

OS Grid: SY984776

Mapcode National: GBR 342.C46

Mapcode Global: FRA 67NH.1CY

Entry Name: Pillow mound 145m south east of Eastington Farm

Scheduled Date: 17 May 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016915

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33164

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Langton Matravers

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Worth Matravers St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes a pillow mound, aligned east-west, situated on a natural
terrace of a south-facing slope, overlooking Seacombe Bottom.
The monument has a mound composed of earth and gravel, with maximum dimensions
of 18m in length, 6m in width and about 1m in height. To the north, east and
west, the mound is flanked by a quarry ditch which survives as an earthwork
1.5m wide. To the south, the pillow mound is situated close to the edge of a
steep natural slope and the ditch does not extend into this area.
Two other features to the north west have been described as pillow mounds,
but are actually terraces cut into the base of the slope. Although the
associated disturbance appears to have attracted considerable burrowing by
rabbits, it is not certain that this was their original purpose. These
terraces are of an uncertain date and function. They are not considered to be
of national importance and are therefore not included in the scheduling.

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

A warren is an area of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares in order to provide a constant supply of fresh meat and
skins. Although the hare is an indigenous species, the tradition of warren
construction and use dates from the 12th century, following the introduction
of rabbits into England from the continent. Warrens usually contain a number
of purpose-built breeding places known as pillow mounds or rabbit buries,
which were intended to centralise the colony and make catching the animals
easier, whether using nets, ferrets or dogs. The mounds vary in design
although rarely exceeding 0.7m in height. Earlier monuments such as burial
mounds, boundary features and mottes were sometimes reused as breeding places.
The mounds are usually surrounded by ditches and contain underlying channels
or are situated on sloping ground to facilitate drainage. The interior of the
mound may also contain nesting places constructed of stone slabs or cut into
the underlying subsoil or bedrock.
A typical warren may contain between one and forty pillow mounds or rabbit
buries and occupy an area up to c.600ha. Many warrens were enclosed by a bank,
hedge or wall intended to contain and protect the stock. Other features
associated with the warren include vermin traps (usually a dead-fall mechanism
within a small tunnel), and more rarely traps for the warren stock (known in
Yorkshire as `types') which could contain the animals unharmed and allow for
selective culling. Larger warrens might include living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the site, sometimes surrounded by an enclosed
garden and outbuildings.
Early warrens were mostly associated with the higher levels of society;
however, they gradually spread in popularity so that by the 16th and 17th
centuries they were a common feature on most manors and estates throughout the
country. Warrens continued in use until fairly recent times, finally declining
in the face of 19th and 20th century changes in agricultural practice, and the
onset of myxomatosis. Warrens are found in all parts of England, the earliest
examples lying in the southern part of the country. Approximately 1,000 -
2,000 examples are known nationally with concentrations in upland areas, on
heathland and in coastal zones. The profits from a successfully managed warren
could, however, be considerable and many areas in lowland England were set
aside for warrens at the expense of agricultural land. Although relatively
common, warrens are important for their associations with other classes of
monument, including various forms of settlement, deer parks, field systems and
fishponds. They may also provide evidence of the economy of both secular and
ecclesiastical estates. All well preserved medieval examples are considered
worthy of protection. A sample of well preserved sites of later date will also
merit protection.

The pillow mound 145m south east of Eastington Farm survives well and will
contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and
the landscape in which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 415

Source: Historic England

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