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Prehistoric fields, settlements and cairn south east of Venford Reservoir forming part of the Dartmeet coaxial field system

A Scheduled Monument in Holne, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5177 / 50°31'3"N

Longitude: -3.8504 / 3°51'1"W

OS Eastings: 268909.511895

OS Northings: 70288.033843

OS Grid: SX689702

Mapcode National: GBR QC.8SQ4

Mapcode Global: FRA 27TP.HRY

Entry Name: Prehistoric fields, settlements and cairn south east of Venford Reservoir forming part of the Dartmeet coaxial field system

Scheduled Date: 3 February 1976

Last Amended: 18 September 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020092

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22370

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Holne

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Holne St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a group of coaxial fields, associated stone hut
circles, a cairn, an area of historic fields and tinwork earthworks situated
on Holne Moor overlooking the valley of the River Dart. The coaxial fields
form part of the Dartmeet coaxial field system and survive as rubble banks
which in places have been modified during the construction of later historic
fields. There are at least nine parallel reaves within the monument, from
which several other boundaries lead, creating a number of smaller fields and
enclosures. The parallel reaves are aligned north east to south west and
many abut the terminal reave which denotes the western edge of the field
system. Within the field system there are at least nine stone hut circles,
which survive as rubble or orthostatic walls each surrounding a circular
internal area measuring between 3.5m and 8m in diameter. The surrounding walls
measure up to 0.8m high; two of the huts have visible doorways and one a hook-
shaped porch.
A cairn situated within the field system at NGR SX68847032 survives as a
9.7m diameter flat-topped mound standing up to 0.8m high. A small hollow in
the centre of the cairn suggests that it has been partially excavated or
Historic fields denoted by ditched boundary banks survive over much of the
monument and in places have reused earlier prehistoric walls. Another
activity of historic date for which abundant archaeological remains survive is
mineral prospecting and extraction. In several places, clusters of small
rectangular pits together with narrow trenches formed during the search for
tin are visible. The lodes encountered were exploited using opencast quarries
called openworks, which survive as narrow steep sided gulleys cutting into the
Three disused lengths of leat lead through the monument. The northern leat is
known as the Holne Moor Leat or Hamlyn's Leat and was cut in the early part of
the 19th century to supply water for textile mills in Buckfastleigh.
The southern leat is known as the Wheal Emma Leat and was constructed in 1859
to carry water from the upper Swincombe River to supplement the River Mardle.
The additional water was required by the Wheal Emma copper mine near
Buckfastleigh. Within the monument the leat survives as a 2.5m wide and 0.7m
deep channel crossed at one point by a clapper bridge. The third length of
leat is a short length of channel lying parallel to the Holne Gutter Leat and
represents an earlier route taken by this leat which still remains in use.
The active leats leading through the monument and the metal fence denoting the
edge of the Venford Reservoir forestry plantation are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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. 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 prehistoric fields, settlements and cairn south east of Venford Reservoir
forming part of the Dartmeet coaxial field system survive well and form part
of the best preserved coaxial field system on Dartmoor. The Dartmeet coaxial
field system extends over 3000ha and enough of it survives to enable a
full understanding of the widespread character and impact of Bronze Age
farming techniques on the moorland landscape.
The later historic field system which overlies many of the earlier coaxial
fields provides additional contrasting information concerning the character of
historic farming activity and this, together with the considerable evidence
for prospecting and mining, represents an important source of archaeological

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, , Vol. 4, (1993), 176
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2000)
Title: Holne Moor Survey
Source Date: 1997
1:2500 plan

Source: Historic England

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