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Enclosed stone hut circle settlement and three round cairns on Giant's Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Sheepstor, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.4841 / 50°29'2"N

Longitude: -3.9815 / 3°58'53"W

OS Eastings: 259518.027756

OS Northings: 66795.055913

OS Grid: SX595667

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.5WLZ

Mapcode Global: FRA 27KS.0PX

Entry Name: Enclosed stone hut circle settlement and three round cairns on Giant's Hill

Scheduled Date: 14 March 1962

Last Amended: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019081

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24190

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sheepstor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes two agglomerated enclosures and 16 stone hut circles
together forming an enclosed stone hut circle settlement, three round cairns,
a cist and a tin prospecting pit lying on the west facing slope of Giant's
Hill overlooking the valley of the River Plym.
The stone hut circle settlement includes two agglomerated enclosures connected
to each other by a rubble wall. The western agglomeration is the largest,
includes at least five separate enclosed areas, covers 0.43ha and contains
eight stone hut circles. The northernmost enclosure is earliest and survives
as a 28m long by 20m wide oval area surrounded by a 2m wide and 0.75m high
rubble bank. Four stone hut circles are attached to the inner face of this
enclosure boundary on its eastern side. The second enclosure was added to the
southern side of the first and survives as an irregular shaped area measuring
31m long by 24m wide surrounded by a 3m wide rubble bank standing up to 1m
high. An earlier stone hut circle is incorporated into the southern circuit of
this enclosure. The third enclosure is attached to the western side of the
second and survives as a 2m wide and 0.5m high rubble bank defining an
irregular shaped area measuring 20m long by 16m wide. There are two stone hut
circles associated with this enclosure. The fourth enclosure is attached to
both the second and third. This enclosure is sub-rectangular in shape,
measures 32m long by 26m wide and is denoted by a 2m wide and 0.6m high rubble
bank. A stone hut circle is attached to the inner face of this enclosure wall
on its southern circuit. The final enclosure lies south of the fourth and
although this is now only visible as a 1.4m wide and 0.3m high curving bank
extending 20m southward, the remaining parts probably survive as a buried
feature.
All eight stone hut circles lying within this agglomerated enclosure include
banks of stone and earth each surrounding a circular internal area which vary
in diameter between 2m and 5.5m with the average being 3.61m.
The height of the surrounding wall varies between 0.3m and 0.7m with the
average being 0.58m. One of the huts has a visible doorway, six are attached
and two are linked to enclosure walling.
The second agglomerated enclosure lies to the east and is linked to the first
by a 24m long rubble bank. This enclosure includes at least two elements, with
the earliest one being the northern example. This survives as a 43m long by
42m wide sub-rectangular area surrounded by a 2m wide and 0.45m high rubble
bank with occasional orthostats. Two stone hut circles are attached to the
inner face of this enclosure boundary on its northern side, two others are
linked to the boundary by a short length of rubble bank a fifth lies in the
south western corner. The second enclosure is attached to the south western
corner of the first and survives as an oval area 38m long by 29m wide denoted
by a 1.3m wide and 0.5m high rubble bank also with occasional orthostats. The
five stone hut circles within this agglomerated enclosure are similar in
character to those lying elsewhere within the settlement. The internal
diameters of these huts vary between 2m and 3m with the average being 2.3m.
The height of the surrounding wall varies between 0.3m and 0.6m with the
average being 0.42m.
In the area between the agglomerate enclosures there are a further three
stone hut circles. All three are terraced into the hillslope and survive as
stone and earth banks surrounding a circular internal area. The interior of
the northern and southern huts measure 3m in diameter, whilst the central one
is 3.5m. The surrounding walls vary in height between 0.3m and 0.7m.
The three round cairns lie on the southern periphery of the stone hut circle
settlement. The western mound measures 5m in diameter and stands up to 0.5m
high. The northern mound lies 2.5m from the first, measures 5.3m in diameter
and 0.8m high. The southern mound measures 7.5m long by 5.5m wide, stands up
to 0.2m high and has in the past been excavated or robbed to reveal a cist.
The cist is situated at the WSW end of the cairn, measures 1.4m long, 0.7m
wide, 0.3m deep and is orientated north east to south west.
Evidence of later interest in the ground underlying the settlement is provided
by the survival of a tin prospecting pit. This survives as a sub-rectangular
pit measuring 2.3m long by 1.2m wide and 0.4m deep with an associated crescent
shaped bank standing up to 0.4m high lying immediately downslope. Pits of this
type were excavated by tinners searching for tin ore. The leat earthwork and
further tin prospecting pits adjacent to the monument are not included in the
scheduling because they are not currently considered to be of national
importance.
Further archaeological features surviving within the vicinity of this monument
are the subject of separate schedulings.
This monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.

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.

This monument also includes three round cairns, one of which contains a cist.
Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age
(about 2000-700 BC). They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, the
latter predominating in areas of upland Britain where such raw materials were
locally available in abundance. Round cairns may cover single or multiple
burials, which are often contained with a stone coffin known as a cist and are
sometimes surrounded by an outer ditch. Often occupying prominent locations,
they are a major visual element in the modern landscape. Their considerable
variation in form and longevity as a monument type provides important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early
prehistoric communities.
The enclosed stone hut circle settlement and three round cairns on Giant's
Hill survive comparatively well and together contain archaeological and
environmental information relating to the character of this area in
prehistoric times. This settlement lies on the interface between rich tin
deposits and extensive areas of upland grazing and therefore information
concerning the exploitation of these resources may survive.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 130
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE60, (1992)
Gerrard, G.A.M., The Early Cornish Tin Industry: An Arch. & Historical Survey, 1986, Unpubl. PhD thesis, St David's, Wales
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

Source: Historic England

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