Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric settlement and irregular aggregate field system 340m south west of Laughter Hole Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5648 / 50°33'53"N

Longitude: -3.9 / 3°53'59"W

OS Eastings: 265533.764638

OS Northings: 75616.935259

OS Grid: SX655756

Mapcode National: GBR Q7.LZXN

Mapcode Global: FRA 27QK.VWJ

Entry Name: Prehistoric settlement and irregular aggregate field system 340m south west of Laughter Hole Farm

Scheduled Date: 13 May 1974

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021045

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34457

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartmoor Forest

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Widecombe-in-the-Moor St Pancras

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a prehistoric settlement and an irregular aggregate
field system lying on the upper south east facing slope of Laughter Tor,
overlooking the valley of the East Dart River. The prehistoric settlement
survives wholly within the irregular aggregate field system and includes
at least five stone hut circles. The stone hut circles survive as circular
banks surrounding an internal area which varies from 8 sq m to 23 sq m,
with the average being 14 sq m. The height of the surrounding walls varies
between 0.4m and 0.7m, with the average being 0.52m. Two of the huts have
visible doorways, two are conjoined and three are attached to field
boundary banks. The irregular aggregate field system is defined by a
series of sinuous low rubble banks, some of which are lynchetted and which
together form at least 11 fields, which have been added over a period of

Field systems of a later date partly overlie the monument. The medieval
fields are denoted by a series of banks and ditches, whilst a
post-medieval coursed drystone wall leads across the monument from north
east to south west.

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. Stone hut circles and hut settlements
were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on Dartmoor. They mostly date
from the Bronze Age, with the earliest examples on the Moor in this building
tradition dating to about 1700 BC. The stone-based round houses consist of low
walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; remains of the turf or thatch
roof are not preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups
and may lie in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. Although
they are common on the Moor, their longevity and their relationship with other
monument types provide important information on the diversity of social
organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They are
particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of
surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The prehistoric settlement and irregular aggregate field system 340m south
west of Laughter Hole Farm survive comparatively well. Information concerning
the use of this area through the prehistoric and historic periods is known to
survive. A number of similar settlements and field systems survive on this
part of Dartmoor and together they form an important insight into the
character of settlement and land use on the fringes of the more substantial
coaxial field systems.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 46-47

Source: Historic England

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