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Two stone circles known as The Grey Wethers, three round cairns, two ring cairns and an oval enclosure in Great Stannon Newtake

A Scheduled Monument in Chagford, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6309 / 50°37'51"N

Longitude: -3.9245 / 3°55'28"W

OS Eastings: 263985.066039

OS Northings: 83017.126088

OS Grid: SX639830

Mapcode National: GBR Q6.8RN1

Mapcode Global: FRA 27ND.QVS

Entry Name: Two stone circles known as The Grey Wethers, three round cairns, two ring cairns and an oval enclosure in Great Stannon Newtake

Scheduled Date: 19 January 1962

Last Amended: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018707

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28680

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Chagford

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 six areas, includes two stone circles, three
round cairns, two ring cairns and an oval enclosure lying at the head of three
separate rivers within Great Stannon Newtake. The stone circles known
collectively as The Grey Wethers, lie adjacent to each other and are very
similar in size and character. The northern circle measures 31.5m in diameter
and is denoted by 20 upright granite slabs with an average height of 1.1m.
The diameter of the southern circle is 33m and includes 29 standing stones
varying in height between 1m and 1.4m. Excavations carried out by the
Dartmoor Exploration Committee towards the end of the 19th century revealed a
layer of charcoal covering the original ground surface. A shallow trench
visible leading through the southern circle may be the result of this
excavation.
A round cairn lying 280m east of the stone circles was also investigated
by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, whose work revealed a central pit
filled with charcoal. This cairn now survives as a 5.3m diameter and 0.7m
high stony mound. Lying north east of this cairn are two further mounds. The
largest of these may be a ring cairn which survives as a 15m diameter and 0.6m
high, flat topped mound with an outer edge of stones which represents the
remnant of a ring bank. Four metres to the north east of this cairn is
another mound which measures 4.5m in diameter and 0.7m high. A slight hollow
in the centre of this cairn is probably the result of robbing or partial early
excavation.
Lying 230m SSE of The Grey Wethers is an oval enclosure defined by a 4.5m
wide and 1.2m high rubble bank surrounding an internal area measuring 53.5m
east to west by 39m north to south. An 8.3m wide entrance gap on the eastern
side is flanked on each side by a stony mound. The considerable size of the
bank combined with its proximity to a number of ritual monuments strongly
supports the contention that this enclosure is much more likely to have been
used for ritual than domestic purposes and it has consequently been identified
as a henge. A cairn lying south east of the enclosure measures 9m in
diameter, stands up to 0.6m high and is surrounded by a clearly defined kerb.
To the SSE of this cairn is a sub circular enclosure measuring 22.7m long by
20.1m wide surrounded by a 2.8m wide and 0.5m high rubble bank. An entrance
on the western side measures 1.1m wide and in the centre is a substantial
recumbent stone which may have once stood upright. This enclosure has been
identified as a ring cairn.

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 circles, or circular
arrangements of upright stones, were set into the ground and acted as
ceremonial and funerary monuments during the later Neolithic and Bronze Age
periods (c.2400-700 BC). On Dartmoor they are often found in association with
stone alignments and burial monuments such as cairns and cists. The circles
may be single or enclose further circles; they may occur as isolated examples
or in groups. The 26 examples on Dartmoor form one of the most dense
concentrations of monuments of this type in the country. Due to their relative
rarity (with a national population of only some 200 examples) and longevity as
a monument type, all stone circles are considered to be nationally important.

A number of further ritual monuments survive within close proximity to The
Grey Wethers stone circles. The round cairns, ring cairns and possible henge
together provide evidence for an important ritual area in this part of Bronze
Age Dartmoor. The location of this area at the head of three rivers may
indicate that this concentration of ritual monuments had more than just local
significance.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 165-6
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 165-6
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Possible Henge At Teignhead, , Vol. 42, (1984), 103-6
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE103, (1995)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE104, (1995)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE126,

Source: Historic England

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