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Coaxial fields, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Halshanger and Horridge Commons, forming part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system

A Scheduled Monument in Ilsington, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5597 / 50°33'35"N

Longitude: -3.7622 / 3°45'43"W

OS Eastings: 275279.364117

OS Northings: 74814.137776

OS Grid: SX752748

Mapcode National: GBR QG.S57D

Mapcode Global: FRA 370L.84Q

Entry Name: Coaxial fields, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Halshanger and Horridge Commons, forming part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system

Scheduled Date: 14 February 1955

Last Amended: 19 February 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019603

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28774

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Ilsington

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Ilsington St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes part of the prehistoric field system known as the Rippon
Tor coaxial field system, seven broadly contemporary settlements, ten cairns,
an historic field system, two shelters, a Latin cross roughout, two millstone
roughouts, an animal pound and prospecting pits.
The coaxial field system includes a large number of fields arranged on a
single prevailing axis, subdivided by transverse boundaries. Within the area
defined by the fields there are seven settlements. The largest of these
survives as a scatter of at least 15 stone hut circles extending along the
lower slopes of Halshanger Common. The stone hut circles survive as walls each
surrounding an internal circular area whose diameters range from 4.3m up to
8.7m with the average being 6.9m. Eleven of the huts have visible doorways,
one has a porch and another an annex. The second major settlement lies on the
lower slopes of Horridge Common and includes 13 stone hut circles situated
within a cluster of smaller fields which themselves form part of the coaxial
field system. Eight of the hut circles within this settlement have visible
doorways and two have courtyards. The remaining five settlements within the
monument include small groupings of no more than three stone hut circles.
There are ten cairns within the monument, half of which stand at or near
the summit of Rippon Tor. The cairn crowning the summit of the tor measures
28m in diameter, stands up to 4m high and is largely composed of loose rocks.
Some 20m to the south is a tor cairn consisting of a 7m diameter and 0.7m high
stoney earthwork surrounding a small granite pillar. To the south east of
this cairn is a 6m diameter mound standing up to 0.7m high. A hollow in the
centre of this mound suggests partial early excavation or robbing. The
remaining two cairns in this area are butted by a reave forming part of the
Rippon Tor coaxial field system. The western cairn measures 20m in diameter
and stands up to 3.5m high and the eastern one is 20m in diameter and 2.5m
Three of the remaining cairns lie on the lower slopes of Horridge Common.
At NGR SX75467512 there is a 10.2m diameter mound standing 0.8m high whilst a
short distance to the east another example measures 10m in diameter and 0.8m
high. The third cairn measures 26m in diameter and up to 0.8m high and, like
the others, has hollows in its surface indicating previous investigation. The
two remaining cairns within the monument are isolated. One lies at NGR
SX74197455 and survives as a 5m diameter mound standing 0.7m high. The other
is more unusual lying within a circular enclosure at NGR SX75807496. This
cairn includes a 0.7m high platform with a diameter of 10.5m onto which a 1m
high and 5.5m diameter mound has been placed.
Archaeological remains of historic date also survive within the monument. Much
of the lower slopes of Horridge Common are occupied by a series of field
boundaries of historic date. Some of these boundaries reused earlier
prehistoric ones, although in places fresh lengths have been added. Two small
shelters lie within the monument. The first, at NGR SX74827470, survives as an
open ended rectangular structure measuring 3m long by 1.5m wide, whilst the
second one, at NGR SX76307540, is built within an earlier stone hut circle.
The rocks forming Rippon Tor were quarried during the historic period and
amongst the roughouts which remain are two millstones and a Latin cross whose
western arm was broken during its manufacture. Immediately to the east of the
summit is a sub-rectangular drystone structure with internal dimensions of
8.3m by 5m which may be an animal pound. Over the lower slopes there is a
series of prospecting pits excavated by tinners in their search for tin. The
results must have been disappointing as there no tinworks.
All modern fences, track surfaces and the Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar
are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features
is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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. Elaborate complexes of fields and
field boundaries are some of the major features of the Dartmoor landscape. The
reaves are part of an extensive system of prehistoric land division introduced
during the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They consist of simple linear stone
banks used to mark out discrete territories, some of which are tens of
kilometres in extent. The systems are defined by parallel, contour and
watershed reaves, dividing the lower land from the grazing zones of the higher
moor and defining the watersheds of adjacent river systems. Occupation sites
and funerary or ceremonial monuments are often incorporated in, or associated
with, reave complexes. Their longevity and their relationship with other
monument types provide important information on the diversity of social
organisation, land divisions and farming practices amongst prehistoric
communities. They show considerable longevity as a monument type, sometimes
surviving as fossilised examples in medieval field plans. They are an
important element in the existing landscape and, as such, a substantial
proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The coaxial fields, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Halshanger and
Horridge Commons survive very well and are amongst the most visually
impressive on the Moor. The field system in particular is well-preserved and
will contain important archaeological and environmental information relating
to occupation and use of this area during the prehistoric period. This
monument represents the best preserved and most extensive part of the largest
coaxial field system on Dartmoor. Evidence for continued use of the area in
medieval and post-medieval times further enhances the significance of the

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 47
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 40
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 42
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 45
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 47
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1999)

Source: Historic England

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