Ancient Monuments

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Rabbit warren 410m west and 310m north west of Beardown Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5623 / 50°33'44"N

Longitude: -3.9779 / 3°58'40"W

OS Eastings: 260006.556623

OS Northings: 75479.489201

OS Grid: SX600754

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.0XNJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 27KL.22H

Entry Name: Rabbit warren 410m west and 310m north west of Beardown Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 December 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021176

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34473

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartmoor Forest

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


The monument, which falls into two areas of protection, comprises a rabbit
warren situated on a south facing slope of Beardown Hill overlooking the
valley of the Cowsic River. The warren includes at least 50 pillow mounds,
with all but one lying to the south of a now abandoned length of the
Devonport Leat. The pillow mounds vary between 2.3m and 54m long, with the
average being 9.38m. They stand between 0.5m and 1m high and most are
surrounded by a ditch from which material was quarried during their
construction. The earliest reference to the warren is in a Duchy of
Cornwall lease of 1808 and it is generally believed that the warren was
established at around this time. The nearby Dartmoor Prison may have been
the primary market for the produce.

The modern fence posts within the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground below is included.

The Devonport Leat which passes under the monument via an undergound
pipeline is totally excluded from the scheduling.

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 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.
Warrens are areas of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits
or hares. They usually include a series of purpose-built breeding places,
known as pillow mounds and buries, vermin traps and enclosures designed to
contain and protect the animals, and living quarters for the warrener who kept
charge of the warren.
Pillow mounds are low oblong-shaped mounds of soil and/or stones in which the
animals lived. They are usually between 15m and 40m long and between 5m and
10m wide. Most have a ditch around at least three sides to facilitate
drainage. Inside are a series of narrow interconnecting trenches. These were
excavated and covered with stone or turf before the mound was constructed.
Vermin traps of various kinds are found within most warrens. These include a
small stone-lined passage into which the predator was funnelled by a series of
ditches or walls. Over 100 vermin traps have been recorded on the Moor, with
the majority lying in the Plym Valley.
Warren boundaries were often defined by a combination of natural features such
as rivers. Within the warrens themselves smaller enclosed areas defined by a
ditch and bank are sometimes found, and some of these may have been
specialised breeding areas. Many of the warrens on the Moor contain a house in
which the warrener lived.
Most of the surviving warren earthworks probably date to between the 17th
century and the later 19th century, with some continuing in use into the early
20th century. At least 22 warrens are known to exist on the Moor and together
they contribute to our understanding of the medieval and post-medieval
exploitation of the area. All well-preserved warrens are considered worthy of

The rabbit warren 430m west and 310m north west of Beardown Farm survives
well and represents a good example of a compact 19th century commercial
warren. Information concerning rabbit management will survive in and
around the many pillow mounds.

Source: Historic England


Beardown Farm Survey, Probert, S.A.J., SX67NW71, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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