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A prehistoric settlement with enclosures, an irregular aggregate field system and cairn north of Bellever Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5752 / 50°34'30"N

Longitude: -3.9126 / 3°54'45"W

OS Eastings: 264666.590356

OS Northings: 76799.820249

OS Grid: SX646767

Mapcode National: GBR Q7.L2QV

Mapcode Global: FRA 27PK.3HK

Entry Name: A prehistoric settlement with enclosures, an irregular aggregate field system and cairn north of Bellever Tor

Scheduled Date: 21 May 1974

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018512

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28689

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartmoor Forest

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

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

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Details

The monument, which falls into five areas of protection, includes an
agglomerated enclosure and irregular aggregate field system containing stone
hut circles and a round cairn lying on a ridge between Bellever Tor and
Lakehead Hill. The monument overlooks the valleys of the Cherry Brook and East
Dart River.
The irregular aggregate field system survives as a block of 17 fields covering
at least 4ha. The field walls are composed of rubble banks standing up to 2m
wide and 0.7m high. Within the fields there are nine visible stone hut
circles. To the east of the field system lies a further stone hut circle,
whilst to the west there are two enclosures. The northern enclosure is
agglomerated and measures overall at least 340m north to south by 270m east to
west. One stone hut circle lies within this enclosure and another two are
attached to the enclosure walling. The southern enclosure, which measures 500m
north to south by 300m east to west, is probably oval in shape, although the
eastern side is no longer visible. West of these enclosures lies a further
agglomerated enclosure. This survives as at least ten irregular shaped areas
each defined by boulder and rubble walling. Four stone hut circles survive
within the enclosure and three of these are butted by enclosure walling.
Sitting next to the north eastern side of the enclosure is a small cairn
measuring 3.7m in diameter and standing up tp 0.5m high.
The stone hut circles within the settlement all survive as banks surrounding
circular or oval internal areas which varies from 14.5 sq m to 50.2 sq m with
the average being 27.6 sq m. The height of the surrounding walls vary between
0.25m and 0.9m, with the average being 0.56m. The orthostatic and rubble bank
walling building traditions are all represented. Ten of the huts have visible
doorways and seven are attached to lengths of walling.
The surface of the forest road leading through the monument, together with
modern drainage channels and lengths of post and wire fencing are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

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.

Despite partial afforestation, the prehistoric settlement with enclosures, an
irregular aggregate field system and cairn north of Bellever Tor survive well
and together with other nearby broadly contemporary settlement sites and
ceremonial monuments provide an important insight into the nature of Bronze
Age occupation and exploitation in the very centre of Dartmoor. Relatively
deep peat and soil deposits cover this monument and as well as containing
environmental information they have helped to protect the archaeology from
modern activities.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 44
Other
1:2500 Plan, Sainsbury, I S, Bellever, Devon, West Devon, Lydford, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX67NW229.3, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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