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Prehistoric settlements, fields and enclosures within the Shapley Common coaxial field system, 770m south of Challacombe Cross

A Scheduled Monument in North Bovey, Devon

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Latitude: 50.626 / 50°37'33"N

Longitude: -3.8449 / 3°50'41"W

OS Eastings: 269599.3328

OS Northings: 82328.2699

OS Grid: SX695823

Mapcode National: GBR QC.1VDK

Mapcode Global: FRA 27TF.5VM

Entry Name: Prehistoric settlements, fields and enclosures within the Shapley Common coaxial field system, 770m south of Challacombe Cross

Scheduled Date: 3 July 1964

Last Amended: 18 September 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020461

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22390

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, which falls into four separate area of protection, includes
three prehistoric settlements together with associated enclosures and fields
situated within the upper reaches of the East Bovey Head valley. The northern
settlement includes three substantial stone hut circles sitting within a group
of small rectangular fields connected to a parallel reave of the Shapley
Common coaxial field system. The field walls survive as 2m wide and 0.8m high
orthostatic walls and their relationship to the parallel reave indicates that
they were added some time after the construction of the coaxial fields. The
stone hut circles are all of double orthostatic construction with walls
standing over 1m high and are butted by the associated field walls. This
relationship indicates that the stone hut circles also predate the small
rectangular fields.
The enclosed settlements lie to the south and include three separate
enclosures each containing a number of stone hut circles. The northern
enclosure is divided in two by a later partition and contains at least seven
stone hut circles, most of which are abutted to the enclosure wall. A length
of reave leading west from the enclosure forms part of the coaxial field
system in this area and strongly suggests that the enclosure is earlier in
date than the field system. The central, irregular shaped enclosure also
contains seven stone hut circles, four of which are attached to the earlier
enclosure wall. One of the huts is abutted by the enclosure walling suggesting
that it is earlier and indicates that the settlement may have developed over
time. The final enclosure is the southernmost within the group and survives as
a 1m wide and 0.6m high orthostatic wall curving southward from a stone hut
circle with an internal diameter of 5.5m.

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 prehistoric settlements, fields and enclosures within the Shapley Common
coaxial field system, 770m south of Challacombe Cross survive very well and
contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the
exploitation of this area during the prehistoric period. In particular, the
juxtaposition of settlements with enclosures and those with fields provides
evidence for the different types of farming activity, in operation during this

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 160
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2000)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2000)

Source: Historic England

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