Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric settlement, field system, cairn and three pillow mounds, 290m north east of Merrivale Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5587 / 50°33'31"N

Longitude: -4.0443 / 4°2'39"W

OS Eastings: 255291.772871

OS Northings: 75214.565018

OS Grid: SX552752

Mapcode National: GBR Q0.GBYP

Mapcode Global: FRA 27FL.67C

Entry Name: Prehistoric settlement, field system, cairn and three pillow mounds, 290m north east of Merrivale Bridge

Scheduled Date: 9 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019569

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22398

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


The monument includes a prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, associated
field system and cairn together with three historic pillow mounds situated on
a relatively steep west facing slope within Merrivale Newtake, overlooking the
River Walkham. The prehistoric settlement includes at least four stone hut
circles sitting within a field system denoted by walls composed of large
rubble blocks standing up to 0.8m high. The stone hut circles survive as
banks, each surrounding a circular or oval internal area of between 13sq m and
20sq m, with the average being 15 sq m. The hut walls are of single
orthostatic construction and their heights vary between 0.25m and 0.5m, with
the average being 0.36m.
Adjacent to the southern part of the field system is a small cairn which
survives as a 5.7m diameter mound standing up to 0.6m high. Edge set stones
around the periphery of the mound suggest the survival of a kerb. A large
number of quartz stones lie on this mound suggesting that it was deliberately
covered by a layer of quartz to enhance its appearance.
The three pillow mounds within the monument form part of Merrivale Warren,
which includes at least 27 pillow mounds scattered along the lower slopes of
Great Mis Tor, Little Mis Tor and Over Tor. It has been suggested that many
of the pillow mounds within the Merrivale Warren may be of medieval date
because of their unusual oval shape and association with a nearby medieval
settlement. Most of the pillow mounds, including these ones, lie within the
Merrivale Newtake, but some lie on open moorland just outside the intake wall.
The remaining components of this warren are the subject of separate
These pillow mounds survive as flat-topped, sub-rectangular mounds of soil and
stone surrounded on three sides by the ditches from which material was
quarried during their construction. The mounds are between 8.2m and 9.7m long
by between 6m and 6.6m wide. All three mounds are up to 1.5m high.

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 prehistoric settlement 290m north east of Merrivale Bridge survives well
despite lying close to the much visited, broadly contemporary stone alignments
and settlements at Merrivale. Information relating to the exploitation of the
area together with environmental data survives within this settlement and its
associated field system.
The small cairn south of the enclosures will contain further information
concerning the inhabitants of this settlement and their burial tradition.
The pillow mounds are later in date and form part of the nationally
important Merrivale Warren.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 127
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1999)

Source: Historic England

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