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Medieval farmstead and field system, length of Willings Walls Reave, four round cairns, a ring cairn and pillow mounds at Willings Walls Warren

A Scheduled Monument in Shaugh Prior, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.465 / 50°27'54"N

Longitude: -3.9992 / 3°59'57"W

OS Eastings: 258207.636839

OS Northings: 64709.593784

OS Grid: SX582647

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.14K8

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HT.RSP

Entry Name: Medieval farmstead and field system, length of Willings Walls Reave, four round cairns, a ring cairn and pillow mounds at Willings Walls Warren

Scheduled Date: 14 March 1961

Last Amended: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019083

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24231

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shaugh Prior

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes a medieval farmstead and field system, a length of
Willings Walls Reave, four round cairns, a ring cairn, two stone hut circles,
a post-medieval rectangular building, 13 pillow mounds and a length of
Phillips Leat all situated within Willings Walls Warren. The medieval field
system forms the largest part of the monument and this lies on a gentle west
facing slope overlooking Spanish Lake. Extending beyond the field system is
the Willings Walls Reave which follows the contour around to the Hentor Brook.
Within this monument archaeological evidence relating to three major periods
of activity survive. The Bronze Age archaeology includes the ring cairn,
contour reave, four small round cairns and two stone hut circles. The
farmstead and its associated field system are of medieval date, whilst the
pillow mounds associated gullies, rectangular building and leats are post-
medieval.
The earliest surviving component of the monument is the ring cairn which lies
adjacent to and partly under the Willings Walls Reave. The cairn is internally
kerbed and survives as a 1m wide bank standing up to 0.2m high surrounding a
41m diameter internal area. At four places around the inner edge of the bank
are clusters of irregular boulders and these represent the remains of an
internal kerb. The Willings Walls Reave passes through the ring cairn and
significantly changes direction within its circuit. It has been suggested that
the reave builders used the cairn as a landmark when laying out their new
boundary. If so this would certainly mean that the cairn was earlier than the
reave and may have been an earlier territorial marker which was confirmed by
the construction of the reave.
Part of the Willings Walls contour reave lies within this monument and its
function seems to have been to separate the higher moorlands from the grazing
lands on the lower slopes. The reave, named by Fleming as the Cholwichtown
Reave, is part of the same land division boundary and therefore although named
separately this single contour reave once extended (except where natural
features were followed) between Eylesbarrow and Rook Reaves which form the
edges of the prehistoric territory named Plym by Fleming. Thus, together the
Willings Walls and Cholwichtown Reaves effectively split the Plym territory
into two parts.
Only a relatively short length of the reave lies within the monument and it
can be traced from SX58426552 on the Hentor Brook to SX58246441 at Spanish
Lake Head where it disappears below deep peat. Within this monument the reave
survives as a 2m wide rubble bank standing up to 0.8m high. Two gaps in the
reave may represent the site of original entrances. The first at SX58236465
survives as a 2m wide gap denoted on the north by a slight westward turn in
the reave and on the south by a large orthostat. The second possible entrance
lies at SX58206494 close to two stone hut circles. This survives as a 3m wide
gap and is thought to be original because of its sheltered position, proximity
to the huts and an inturned reave terminal on the northern side. At SX58276531
a marked kink in the reave may indicate the position where two separate gangs
of builders working from opposite ends met. At SX58306535 a 5m diameter and
0.8m high cairn sits on top of the reave, whilst at SX58276535 another lies
immediately adjacent and to the west of the reave. This cairn consists of a
mound 9m in diameter and up to 0.5m high. It contains a central cist which has
one end slab and two side slabs in place. The southern end slab and capstone
have been displaced and lean at an angle at the southern end. At SX58226520 is
a further cairn which measures 4m in diameter and 0.6m high and lies
immediately next to and east of the reave. The remaining cairn lies west of
the reave and survives as a 4.4m diameter mound standing up to 0.6m high.
The two stone hut circles lying adjacent to an entrance in the reave survive
as banks of earth and stone surrounding an internal area. The larger hut lies
west of the reave, its interior measures 6.5m in diameter and is defined by a
1.4m wide coursed and rubble bank standing up to 0.7m high. A gap in the wall
faces south and may represent an original doorway. The second hut is attached
to the eastern side of the reave and this survives as a 1.6m wide and 0.6m
high rubble bank surrounding an oval interior measuring 4m long by 3.4m wide.
The medieval farmstead is partly built upon the earlier Willings Walls Reave
and includes at least one long house, outbuildings, a garden plot and
farmyard. The longhouse survives as a rectangular three roomed building
terraced into the hillslope. The lower room (the byre or shippon) is the
largest and measures 6.1m long by 3.5m wide and is defined by a 1.1m wide
drystone rubble wall standing up to 0.5m high. The two upper rooms, which
represent the domestic accommodation, are subdivided by a 1m wide and 0.3m
high rubble wall. The western room measures 4.8m long by 3.5m wide and the
eastern room is 3.4m long by 2m wide. A gap midway along the southern wall of
the long house represents the site of a doorway, which was probably originally
one of two opposing entrances.
The doorway through the northern wall is no longer visible at ground level and
may have been blocked. A rubble wall 2m south of the long house and running
parallel to it may represent an outshut or, as this wall extends beyond the
eastern side of the building, it may be an earlier long house which has been
slighted by the later one. To the south of this wall is a partially enclosed
area measuring 5m long by 4.5m wide defined by a 1.2m wide and 0.4m high
orthostatic wall. This structure may represent a farmyard or garden plot. To
the north of the longhouse is a second enclosure which survives as a 10m long
and 6.4m wide sub-rectangular area defined by a 1.2m wide and 0.4m high rubble
wall which abuts the long house.
The farmstead's field system covers approximately 16ha and lies on the lower
slopes of Lee Moor overlooking Spanish Lake. The field system incorporates the
earlier Willings Walls Reave which was partly refurbished at the time when the
fields were laid out. At least six irregular shaped fields survive and most
are denoted by rubble banks and associated ditches. The northernmost field is
however defined to the north by a substantial gully with average dimensions of
4m wide by 1m deep and there is no accompanying bank.
The western side of the field system appears to be defined by Spanish Lake.
A small rectangular building attached to the western side of the Willings
Walls Reave in close proximity to the stone hut circles may also be of
medieval date. The interior of this building measures 6.3m long by 3.5m wide
and is defined by a 1.3m wide and 0.3m high rubble bank. A gap in the western
wall probably represents an original doorway. This structure may have been a
transhumance hut or shelter used by warreners.
Thirteen pillow mounds survive within this monument. Twelve of these lie close
to Spanish Lake and the remaining one is adjacent to the Hentor Brook. All of
the mounds form part of Willings Walls Warren, which includes at least 18
pillow mounds scattered along the hillside and in the valley bottoms between
Spanish Lake and Hentor Brook. Willings Walls Warren, which covers an area of
approximately 113ha, was established by at least 1807, when a lease granted by
Lord Boringdon to Peter Nicholls of Sheepstor, a warrener, clearly indicates
that it formed part of Hentor Warren. Hentor Farm is considered to have been
used as the warren house. The reason why this part of Hentor Warren was given
a separate name is unclear, but it may refer back to a time when it operated
separately. Sometime shortly after 1815 the warren was taken over by and
worked from nearby Ditsworthy and continued in use until the 1930s.
All the pillow mounds survive as flat-topped, sub-rectangular mounds of soil
and stone surrounded by the ditches from which material was quarried during
their construction. The mounds adjacent to Spanish Lake measure between 9m and
34m long by 4m and 8.5m wide and stand between 0.2m and 1.3m high. Three of
the quarry ditches survive only as buried features, but the remainder vary
between 0.5m and 3m wide by 0.1m and 0.5m deep. Four of the pillow mounds lie
close to narrow and shallow gullies which probably represent drainage ditches
and/or animal runs in which vermin and rabbits were trapped.
The remaining pillow mound lying next to Hentor Brook measures 23m long, 7m
wide and 0.75m high, whilst the ditch from which material was quarried during
its construction surrounds the mound and survives as a buried feature.
A 430m length of Phillips Leat also survives within the monument and this cuts
through the medieval field system. This leat cuts through Willings Walls
Warren and was constructed by William Phillips in approximately 1835 to carry
water to his newly leased clay works on Lee Moor. The leat took water from the
River Plym, above Langcombe Brook, under Little Gnats Head, and during its
working life was known as the Little Gnats Head Leat. Shortly after its
construction an agreement was made that after use in the china clay works, the
water was carried to serve Hemerdon tin mine. In 1877 the Bottle Hill Mine
closed and the Lee Moor China Clay Works were able to use the former mine
leat, which to this day remains operational and is known as the Lee Moor China
Clay Leat. The Phillips Leat was therefore abandoned sometime around 1877.
Within this monument the leat survives as a 430m long, 1m wide and 0.5m deep
channel flanked on the downslope side by 2m wide and 0.4m high bank which was
thrown up during its construction.
This monument is in the care of the Secreatry 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 provides direct evidence
for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards.
The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites,
land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later
industrial remains, give significant insights into successive changes in the
pattern of land use through time.
The medieval farmstead and field system, length of Willings Walls Reave, four
round cairns, the ring cairn and pillow mounds east of Spanish Lake represent
a complex array of interrelated structures and features belonging to the three
main periods of upland exploitation. The medieval field system is most
extensive, but within the area is also the well-preserved evidence for
prehistoric settlement, land division and funerary monuments together with a
medieval farmstead and rectangular building. In the post-medieval period a
series of pillow mounds forming part of a warren and a length of leat
highlight the continued use of this area.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Willings Walls Contour Reave And Connected Hut Circle Etc., (1991)
Brewer, D, A field guide to the boundary markers on and around Dartmoor, (1986), 52-4
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976), 107 345
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 128
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 164
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 44
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 261-4
Fleming, A, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in The Prehistoric Landscape Of Dartmoor Part 1: South Dartmoor, , Vol. 44, (1978), 117
Fleming, A, Collis, J, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Late Prehistoric Reave System Near Cholwich Town, Dartmoor, , Vol. 31, (1973), 4
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 66
Other
Darvill, T.C., Single Monument Class Description - Ring Cairns, 1989,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE133, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE237, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56SE12, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56SE196,
Gerrard, S., English Heritage Book of Dartmoor, 1997, Forthcoming
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
National Archaeological Record,
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE135,
Site 424, Central Excavation Unit, Plym Valley Survey,
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
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

Source: Historic England

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