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Partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement and post-medieval warren structures on the western slope of Little and Great Trowlesworthy Tors

A Scheduled Monument in Shaugh Prior, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.4619 / 50°27'42"N

Longitude: -4.0093 / 4°0'33"W

OS Eastings: 257483.139161

OS Northings: 64383.844384

OS Grid: SX574643

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.17ZG

Mapcode Global: FRA 27HT.V60

Entry Name: Partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement and post-medieval warren structures on the western slope of Little and Great Trowlesworthy Tors

Scheduled Date: 8 October 1952

Last Amended: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019084

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24233

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shaugh Prior

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes a partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement
forming part of a prehistoric settlement complex together with four pillow
mounds, four vermin traps and several animal runs forming part of
Trowlesworthy Warren, as well as two buildings and a cache lying on a west
facing slope of Trowlesworthy Tor overlooking the Blacka Brook.
The stone hut circle settlement includes at least 42 stone hut circles and
nine enclosures, five of which are agglomerated. Thirteen of the stone hut
circles are unenclosed and the remainder either lie within, or are connected
to, the enclosures. The stone hut circles survive as banks of stone and earth
surrounding a circular or oval internal area. The internal diameters of the
circular huts vary between 2.5m and 8.5m, with the average being 5.58m. The
internal lengths of the four oval huts vary between 3.8m and 10m, with the
average being 6.83m, whilst their widths vary between 2.5m and 8.1m with the
average being 5.15m. The heights of all the surrounding walls vary between
0.3m and 1.3m, with the average being 0.71m. Two of the huts have porches, at
least 24 have visible doorways, two have partitions and two are surrounded by
drainage ditches.
The largest agglomerated enclosure lies at the southern edge of the monument
and includes at least three distinct enclosed areas. The relationship between
the enclosures is not clear but the ground plan suggests that the southern one
is primary, with the western one being secondary and the northern one being
added last. This southern enclosure includes an irregular-shaped area
measuring 48m long by 46m wide and is defined by a 1.5m wide orthostat and
rubble wall standing up to 0.8m high. The enclosure wall incorporates an
earlier stone hut circle in its circuit. The western enclosure survives as a
62m long by 54m wide irregular shaped area surrounded by a 2m wide and 0.7m
high orthostat and rubble wall. One stone hut circle is attached to the inner
face of the enclosure wall although the relationship of two others which are
joined to each other, and to the enclosure wall is uncertain. The northern
enclosure is also irregular in shape, measures 70m long by 37m wide and is
defined by a 2m wide orthostat and rubble wall standing up to 0.5m high. Two
stone hut circles lie within the enclosure; one is attached to the inner face
and another to the outer face of the enclosure wall.
A simple enclosure lying 30m south west of the large agglomerated enclosure
survives as a 62m long by 56m wide sub-oval area surrounded by a 2m wide and
0.5m high orthostatic and rubble wall. One stone hut circle is visible within
the enclosure. The enclosure has been cut by a post-medieval leat and `V'-
shaped animal run. A second simple enclosure lies 100m to the north west and
this survives as a 60m long by 50m wide sub-rectangular area surrounded by a
3m wide partly faced rubble wall with occasional orthostats standing up to
1.2m high. At least five stone hut circles are visible within the enclosure,
one of which is attached to the inner face of the enclosure wall. The
enclosure has been cut by a post-medieval leat.
The third simple enclosure lies 100m to the north east and survives as a 65m
long by 60m wide sub-oval area surrounded by a 1.3m wide faced rubble wall
with occasional orthostats standing up to 1m high. At least six stone hut
circles are visible within the enclosure, one of which is attached to the
inner face of the enclosure wall.
The enclosure wall has been cut by two post-medieval vermin traps and a cache
has been inserted into the wall along its southern sector. A rubble wall leads
off from the southern side of the enclosure, but was probably never part of
another enclosure.
The second agglomerated enclosure lies 35m to the NNW and includes at least
two distinct enclosed areas. The northern enclosure is the earliest and
survives as a 34m long by 33m wide oval area surrounded by a 1m wide and 0.8m
high partly faced rubble wall.
The enclosure wall incorporates an earlier stone hut circle in its circuit.
The southern enclosure is attached to the first, is irregular in shape,
measures 60m long by 50m wide and is defined by a 2m wide partly faced rubble
wall standing up to 1m high. Two stone hut circles lie within the enclosure
and three are incorporated into the later enclosure wall.
The final enclosure lies 40m to the west and survives as a 40m long by 34m
wide sub-rectangular area surrounded by a 2m wide and 0.4m high rubble wall
with occasional orthostats. At least four stone hut circles are visible within
the enclosure, one of which is incorporated into the enclosure wall and
another which is attached to its inner face.
This monument lies within Trowlesworthy Warren and several structures and
features relating to the warren survive. Trowlesworthy Warren includes around
64 pillow mounds and 40 vermin traps scattered along the slopes of Little and
Great Trowlesworthy Tors. The boundaries of the warren are denoted by the
River Plym, Spanish Lake and Blacka Brook. Trowlesworthy Warren is generally
accepted as the oldest warren on Dartmoor, although recently doubt has been
expressed concerning its medieval origins. It is however known that the warren
existed by 1651 when it was occupied by John Hamblin, a skinner from Plymouth.
The warren appears to have remained in constant use from this time until the
first half of the 20th century.
Four pillow mounds, four vermin traps and several gullies interpreted as
animal runs survive within the monument. 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 pillow mounds
vary in length between 16.2m and 27m, between 4.8m and 6.2m in width and
between 0.6m and 1.2m in height. The surrounding ditches vary between 1.5m and
3m wide and between 0.2m and 0.4m deep. The vermin traps are all `X'-shaped
and utilise earlier prehistoric walling in their layout. The position of the
traps suggest that they were intended to catch vermin following enclosure
walling. Vermin approaching their quarry tend to seek a route that provides
visual cover and the purpose of a trap was to funnel predators along ditches
or alongside walls to a central point where they could be trapped.
A series of separate but interconnected gullies are visible throughout the
monument. These gullies probably represent a complex system of animal runs in
which rabbits and vermin could have been trapped. In the past, shallow gullies
such as these have been seen as drainage ditches. However, the location, shape
and alignment of many, including these ones, indicates very clearly that they
could not have had a drainage function. Their close association with vermin
traps in several instances strongly suggests that they are much more likely to
represent animal runs. In one instance an earlier leat was adopted as an
animal run with fresh `V'-shaped runs being added to either end.
Two post-medieval buildings and a cache survive within the monument. The
southernmost building lies within the large agglomerated enclosure and the
material used in its construction may have been taken from nearby abandoned
hut circles. The walls of the building are of drystone construction, measure
0.9m wide and stand up to 1m high. The interior is divided into two rooms, the
north eastern measures 4.3m long by 3.2m wide and is separated from the other
room by a 0.8m wide and 0.7m high partition. The south western room measures
4m long by 3.2m wide and the exterior doorway leads into this room through the
south eastern wall. East of this door is a flanking wall which leads south
eastward to a horseshoe shaped outbuilding composed of rubble walling with
inner and outer facings standing up to 0.8m high. The interior of this
structure measures 2.5sq m. Attached to the north western side of the two
roomed building is an outshut which survives as a rectangular area measuring
2.5m long by 2m wide defined by lines of large stones protruding through the
turf. The function of this building remains uncertain, although it has been
suggested that it is likely to have been a quarryman's or even a tinner's
house, although clearly it could have equally been associated with warrening
or upland grazing.
The second building lies immediately north west of the northernmost simple
enclosure. This building is considered to be of historic date and is often
referred to as the `The Smithy'. It is possible that it may have been the
smithy and dormitory for workers at Little Trowlesworthy quarry. The building
survives as a rectangular two compartment structure defined by coursed masonry
walling. The interior of the northern room measures 4.5m long by 2.5m wide,
whilst the southern one is 4.5m long by 3m wide. The partition wall separating
the two rooms measures 0.45m wide and stands up to 0.9m high, whilst the
exterior wall survives as a 1.5m wide and 0.6m high rubble bank.
The stone to construct this building may have been taken from nearby abandoned
stone hut circles and enclosure walling.
The cache is attached to the outer face of a prehistoric enclosure and
survives as a 1.3m wide and 1m high rubble wall surrounding a rectangular
internal area which measures 1.9m long by 1m wide. This structure was probably
built for storage of tools and equipment, and may have been built by
warreners, shepherds or stone cutters.
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 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, gives significant insights into successive changes in the
pattern of land use through time.
The prehistoric and historic archaeological landscape at Trowlesworthy
Warren represents a complex array of interrelated structures and features
belonging to the three main periods of upland exploitation. Within the
monument the well-preserved evidence for part of a prehistoric settlement
complex survives together with archaeological remains relating to post-
medieval warrening and other activities. The partially enclosed stone hut
circle settlement situated within the monument survives well considering the
later reuse of the area and contains both archaeological and environmental
information relating to the exploitation of this area. Of particular interest
is the location of the settlement on the interface between the lowland and
highland grazing zones. Stone hut circles and hut settlements were the
dwelling places of prehistoric farmers. They mostly date from the Bronze Age,
with the earliest examples on the Moor in this building tradition dating to
about 1700 BC.
A small part of Trowlesworthy Warren is also included within this monument
and the pillow mounds, vermin traps and animal runs associated with it survive
well. Warrens are areas of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares. They usually include a series of purpose-built breeding
places, known as pillow mounds and buries, vermin traps and enclosures
designed to contain and protect the animals, and living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the warren.
Other archaeological features surviving within the monument include a length
of leat, two rectangular buildings and a cache. These features together
provide evidence of complex landuse in this area during the post-medieval
period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 157
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 157
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 431
Price, D G, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in The Moorland Plym - Abandoned Settlement Features Of Etc., (1980), 86-7
Price, D G, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in The Moorland Plym - Abandoned Settlement Features Of Etc., (1980), 86-7
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56SE241, (1983)
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
National Archaeological Record, SX56SE66,
Robertson, J G, The Archaeology of the Upper Plym, 1991, Unpub. Ph.D. Thesis (Edinburgh)
Robertson, J G, The Archaeology of the Upper Plym, 1991, Unpub. Ph.D. Thesis (Edinburgh)
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
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
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
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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