Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric settlement and field system 240m east of Challacombe Cross

A Scheduled Monument in North Bovey, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6329 / 50°37'58"N

Longitude: -3.8436 / 3°50'36"W

OS Eastings: 269713.89223

OS Northings: 83089.957647

OS Grid: SX697830

Mapcode National: GBR QC.1GCN

Mapcode Global: FRA 27VD.DFV

Entry Name: Prehistoric settlement and field system 240m east of Challacombe Cross

Scheduled Date: 20 March 1974

Last Amended: 18 September 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020097

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22376

County: Devon

Civil Parish: North Bovey

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: North Bovey St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a prehistoric settlement together with associated fields
situated on a north facing slope on Shapley Common overlooking the valley of
the Green Combe. The settlement lies within the Shapley Common coaxial field
system and includes at least five stone hut circles and four rectangular
fields. The field walls survive as earthworks with frequent protruding
orthostats; the two western fields were added at a later date. The stone
hut circles survive as orthostatic walls each surrounding a circular internal
area which varies from 5.3m to 7.7m in diameter. The surrounding walls measure
up to 1.2m high and three of the huts have clearly defined doorways. The
northernmost hut is attached to a courtyard which was divided in two by an
historic boundary bank and ditch.
Two historic boundaries lead through the monument with the area between
representing an access route to the high moorland. All of the stone hut
circles are situated within the area between the boundaries suggesting that
the fields were deliberately laid out to avoid them.

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 settlement and field system 240m east of Challacombe Cross
survives particularly well and contains archaeological and environmental
information relating to the exploitation of this area during the prehistoric
and historic periods. This is a visually impressive settlement situated in an
area popular with visitors to the Moor.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 161

Source: Historic England

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