Ancient Monuments

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Part of a coaxial field system, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Buttern Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Gidleigh, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6822 / 50°40'55"N

Longitude: -3.9077 / 3°54'27"W

OS Eastings: 265320.68459

OS Northings: 88679.518001

OS Grid: SX653886

Mapcode National: GBR Q7.CHYM

Mapcode Global: FRA 27P8.RFJ

Entry Name: Part of a coaxial field system, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Buttern Hill

Scheduled Date: 29 January 1975

Last Amended: 22 December 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021215

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34479

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Gidleigh

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Gidleigh Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes part of a coaxial field system, associated
prehistoric settlements and cairns situated on the east facing slope of
Buttern Hill. Other archaeological remains of historic date, including a
length of the Bradford Leat and an upright stone and earthwork, are also
included within the monument. The coaxial fields form part of the Buttern
Hill coaxial field system and survive as rubble banks which in places have
been modified during the construction of later historic fields. There are
at least eight parallel reaves within the monument, from which large
numbers of other boundaries lead creating a number of smaller fields and
enclosures. Within the field system there are at least 18 stone hut
circles, many of which are clustered together to form small settlements.
The stone hut circles survive as circular or oval rubble or orthostatic
walls surrounding an internal area which varies between 8.5 sq m and
78.5 sq m. Eight of the stone hut circles have visible doorways, one has a
porch and another has been the subject of a partial early excavation.

At least two cairns survive within the monument. The small round cairn at
NGR SX65238849 is 4m in diameter whilst the much larger long cairn at NGR
SX65528834 measures 14m long by 5.8m wide and stands up to 0.9m high. Two
large fallen granite slabs at the southern end may represent the remnants
of a chamber. Leading through the monument is the Bradford Leat which
carried water to the tinwork at Bradford Pool (SX70009100) from Wildtor
Well (SX63008758). This leat was the subject of a well documented court
case during the latter part of the 17th century, following which the leat
was abandoned. An upright stone at NGR SX65218852 is most likely to
represent a post-medieval boundary marker. The stone measures 1.35m high
and tapers to a relatively flat top. An earthwork at NGR SX65628848
survives as two parallel ditches with outer banks. The sides of the
ditches are relatively steep suggesting an historic date, but this
structure does not fit into any known category of site.

Modern fences and walling are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them is included.

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 coaxial field system, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Buttern Hill
survive comparatively well and will contain information relating to the use of
this area during the prehistoric period. The field system is one of three
major blocks of coaxial fields surviving on this part of Dartmoor and provides
a useful contrast to its larger neighbours. Part of the Bradford leat leading
through the field system contains important environmental and hydrological

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 143
Costello, L M, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in The Bradford Pool Case, , Vol. 113, (1981), 59-77
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2002)

Source: Historic England

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