Ancient Monuments

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Field systems, hut circles and four beacons, 510m south of Middle Soar

A Scheduled Monument in Malborough, Devon

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Latitude: 50.2153 / 50°12'55"N

Longitude: -3.8065 / 3°48'23"W

OS Eastings: 271208.531383

OS Northings: 36592.288707

OS Grid: SX712365

Mapcode National: GBR QF.2ZVX

Mapcode Global: FRA 28XG.8VS

Entry Name: Field systems, hut circles and four beacons, 510m south of Middle Soar

Scheduled Date: 16 October 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020574

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34884

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Malborough

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Malborough All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a regular aggregate field system of small sub-
rectangular fields containing several hut circles and four post-medieval
beacons. It is located on heathland at the foot of a steepand rocky coastal
slope. Cliffs fall 40m to the sea on the south side of the site, which
enjoys spectacular views along the cliffs to the east and west.
The field walls are from 2m to 4m wide, and up to 1m high, constructed of
earth and stone rubble, with vertical stone slabs in places, set edge to
edge in the form of a fence. The huts are scattered throughout the field
system, mostly singly, but occasionally in pairs, and usually placed close
to or abutting the field banks. They measure from 8m to 12m in diameter,
their walls being constructed of horizontal stone slabs and earth,
measuring 2m wide and up to 1m high.
At the eastern end of the scheduling, four stone platforms on a north west to
south east alignment represent bases for post-medieval navigation beacons.
They are constructed of drystone rubble with facing stones laid on end and
their interiors filled with rubble. They vary in size and shape, the first two
from the west being semicircular, measuring 5m across and 2.5m into the slope,
falling up to 0.7m to the hillside. The third and fourth examples are sub-
rectangular, measuring 6m long, 5m wide and 1.5m high with facing stones on
three sides. Large angled slabs, once set vertically, surround the edges,
while the tops each contain a slight depression.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the
end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and
comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction,
with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one
another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can
be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The
field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves,
orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and
lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to
most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or
farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been
identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the
field system.
The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for
land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought
to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common
occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation
may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate
field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south
eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and
South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often
utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information
about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and
broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several
centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to
associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

The field systems and associated hut circles 510m south of Middle Soar are
an important survival in an area where such features are rare. Their
earthworks, occupation layers and other buried deposits will contain
archaeological and environmental information relating to their
construction and use in the contemporary landscape. The beacons are of
importance to the understanding of the later use of the site.

Source: Historic England


MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)
MPP fieldwork by R Waterhouse, Waterhouse, R, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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