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Two irregular aggregate field systems with associated settlements, part of a coaxial field system, boundary stones and historic fields on Riddon Ridge

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5723 / 50°34'20"N

Longitude: -3.8857 / 3°53'8"W

OS Eastings: 266565.100495

OS Northings: 76423.084335

OS Grid: SX665764

Mapcode National: GBR Q8.S9LF

Mapcode Global: FRA 27RK.80F

Entry Name: Two irregular aggregate field systems with associated settlements, part of a coaxial field system, boundary stones and historic fields on Riddon Ridge

Scheduled Date: 1 January 1971

Last Amended: 7 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018930

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28733

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


The monument, which falls into three areas of protection, includes two
irregular aggregate field systems with associated settlements, part of the
Dartmeet coaxial field system, cairns, a coffin stone, boundary stones,
historic fields and groups of prospecting pits on Riddon Ridge, which lies
between the East Dart River and Walla Brook.
The northern irregular aggregate field system includes at least 60 fields
denoted by rubble walling containing at least three settlements. The northern
settlement includes at least 12 stone hut circles which survive as circular or
oval walls surrounding an internal area varying between 9.6 sq m and 37.4 sq m
with the average being 23.6 sq m. The height of the surrounding walls varies
between 0.3m and 1.2m, with the average being 0.58m. Four of the huts have
visible doorways, nine are attached to boundary walling and both orthostatic
and rubble bank construction techniques are represented. The central
settlement is centred at NGR SX 66107650 and includes two stone hut circles,
each associated with oval shaped fields. The third settlement contains two
stone hut circles, one of which lies adjacent to the field system.
The eastern irregular aggregate field system includes at least 32 fields
some of which are attached to reaves forming part of the Dartmeet coaxial
field system. In its final form this field system post-dates the construction
of the coaxial field system. There are two stone hut circle settlements with
this field system; the western one includes a single hut lying at NGR
SX 66407625, whilst the eastern one includes at least six stone hut circles.
The coaxial field system surviving within the monument forms part of the
much larger one known as the Dartmeet coaxial field system. Within the
monument there are three large fields together with at least 13 smaller ones,
all with a prevailing axis of north east to south west. A solitary stone hut
circle at NGR SX 67017602 has been incorporated into this field system.
There are at least seven cairns lying within the monument. Some of them are
probably funerary in origin although at least three of the smaller ones may
have been built during clearance activity, and two others may have been
erected by the builders of the coaxial field system as part of their initial
survey work.
An unusual feature of medieval date is a solitary recumbent stone with an
incised cross on one face. This is believed to be a coffin stone on which
coffins were rested en route to the Lich Way, an ancient route across the
Moor. Evidence of later land control markers lies within the monument and
includes four boundary stones each carved with letters. These may have been
connected with tinworking, although the only evidence of this activity takes
the form of two lines of prospecting pits and a few further pits scattered
within and around the monument.
Two areas of historic field system survive within the monument. The first
centered at NGR SX 66657655 includes a single rectangular field and to the
west of this two agglomerated fields. The field boundaries survive mainly as
low banks with an associated ditch, although in some places only the ditch is
visible. The second area lies to the south of the first and includes an area
of historic fields denoted on the outer edge by a corn ditch. Within the
field system the individual fields are denoted by banks and within the fields
themselves are slight traces of narrow ridge and furrow.

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 irregular aggregate field systems on Riddon Ridge are amongst the most
extensive recorded on Dartmoor. Their relationship with the Dartmeet coaxial
field system is of particular interest. The settlements and cairns provide
useful information on the character of occupation in this area during the
Bronze Age and together with the other Bronze Age remains, this monument
represents an important and relatively rare instance of an area containing
good examples of the major settlement and land division types found on the
Historic activity within the same area provides a useful insight into its
continuing use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 139
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX67NE306, (1994)
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1999)
Title: Riddon Ridge survey
Source Date: 1993
1:2500 plan

Source: Historic England

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