Ancient Monuments

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Tinners' building 90m north east of the confluence of the Brim Brook and West Okement River

A Scheduled Monument in Sourton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6646 / 50°39'52"N

Longitude: -4.0003 / 4°0'1"W

OS Eastings: 258725.42

OS Northings: 86901.5835

OS Grid: SX587869

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.MJ89

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HB.5B0

Entry Name: Tinners' building 90m north east of the confluence of the Brim Brook and West Okement River

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018929

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28732

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sourton

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 includes a tinners' building situated on a slight terrace
overlooking the Brim Brook and West Okement River. The building survives as a
0.7m wide drystone wall standing up to three courses and 0.9m high surrounding
a rectangular area measuring 5m long by 2.3m wide. The structure is divided
into two rooms and a gap midway along the eastern wall represents an entrance.
A bank standing adjacent to the southern side of the building may represent an
earlier waste dump or more likely was thrown up to offer additional protection
against inclement weather.
This building was probably constructed and used as a shelter by tinners
working at the nearby streamwork, which is the subject of a separate

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.
Shelters are small rectangular or oval buildings which provided temporary
accommodation for a variety of moorland workers. Some were occupied seasonally
and formed habitation for months at a time, whilst others were only used
during work hours as shelters from inclement weather. Some probably had more
than a single function, with parts of the structure being utilised for
storage. The shelters vary considerably in size, but on average have internal
dimensions of 4.8m long by 2.7m wide, and whilst most were built of drystone
walling, some were also constructed from turf. Most shelters have a visible
doorway, whilst some have fireplaces, cupboards and benches. A single building
tradition appears to have been used by the different groups of workers who
constructed shelters.
Many shelters were constructed on virgin sites, but a significant number were
built within earlier ruined structures such as prehistoric stone hut circles
and medieval long houses. The function of each shelter can generally be
ascertained by its proximity to other archaeological features. Shelters found
within or close to tin works are generally considered to have been built and
occupied by tinners, whilst those close to peat cutting earthworks were
probably used by peat cutters. Shelters are also found close to stone cutting
pits, quarries, and leats. In some circumstances a single building may have
been used at different times by more than one group of workers. Shelters found
on the open moorland, with no other obvious clues as to their function, are
probably huts built for herdsmen tending animals grazing summer pasture on the
uplands. These particular huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby
stock was moved in spring from lowland pastures to communal upland grazing
during the warmer winter months. Settlement patterns reflecting transhumance
are known from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) onwards.
At least 400 shelters of various dates survive on the Moor, although it is
expected that this number will increase with future recognition.
Shelters are relatively common on the Moor and together as a group they are
considered to form a major source of archaeological information concerning
historic activity on the open moorland and, as such, a substantial proportion
are considered worthy of protection.

The tinners' building 90m north east of the confluence of the Brim Brook and
West Okement River survives well. Given its strategic location within an area
which has been extensively worked for tin, valuable information concerning the
character and nature of the workforce may survive.

Source: Historic England


MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1999)

Source: Historic England

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