Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric settlement and irregular aggregate field system 600m west of Laughter Hole Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5662 / 50°33'58"N

Longitude: -3.9067 / 3°54'24"W

OS Eastings: 265060.171573

OS Northings: 75780.516923

OS Grid: SX650757

Mapcode National: GBR Q7.LQ7G

Mapcode Global: FRA 27PK.RV4

Entry Name: Prehistoric settlement and irregular aggregate field system 600m west of Laughter Hole Farm

Scheduled Date: 13 May 1974

Last Amended: 8 September 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021046

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34458

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, which falls into three separate areas of protection,
includes a prehistoric settlement and an irregular aggregate field system
lying on the upper north west facing slope of Laughter Tor. The
prehistoric settlement survives partly within the irregular aggregate
field system and includes at least four stone hut circles, two of which
lie to the east of the field system. The stone hut circles survive as
circular or oval banks surrounding an internal area which varies from
9 sq m to 39 sq m, with the average being 19 sq m. The height of the
surrounding walls varies between 0.45m and 0.8m, with the average being
0.55m. One of the huts has a visible doorway and two are butted by field
boundary banks. The easternmost stone hut circle has a very unusual wall,
which can best be described as multi-orthostatic. The inner and outer
edges of the wall together with its core are formed by relatively small
edge set slabs.

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 time. Two of the
stone hut circles sit within the centre of this field system.

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 600m west
of Laughter Hole Farm survive well. Information concerning the use of this
area through the prehistoric period is known to survive. The unusual
multi-orthostatic construction of one stone hut circle deserves a special
mention. A number of similar settlements and field systems survive on this
part of Dartmoor and together they provide an important insight into the
character of settlement and land use on the fringes of the more
substantial coaxial field systems.

Source: Historic England


Title: Duchy Farms Survey - Brimpts Farm
Source Date: 1988
1:10000 plan

Source: Historic England

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