Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Enclosure on Cator Common, 400m ESE of Riddon Brake

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5834 / 50°35'0"N

Longitude: -3.8759 / 3°52'33"W

OS Eastings: 267292.204578

OS Northings: 77643.779764

OS Grid: SX672776

Mapcode National: GBR Q9.YL3N

Mapcode Global: FRA 27RJ.KT8

Entry Name: Enclosure on Cator Common, 400m ESE of Riddon Brake

Scheduled Date: 11 July 2007

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021427

English Heritage Legacy ID: 36053

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 an oval enclosure situated on a small hill overlooking
the Walla Brook. The enclosure survives as a 65m long by 52m wide shaped
area denoted by a rubble bank measuring up to 3m wide from which at least 21
large edge set orthostats protrude. The substantial size of these orthostats
may indicate that the enclosure served a function beyond the usual domestic
one. The monument may therefore represent the site of a ritual enclosure,
examples of which have been identified elsewhere on Dartmoor. A circular
arrangement of stones within the southern part of the enclosure may be the
site of a ring cairn or hut circle. This enclosure was first recognised as
early as 1750 by the antiquarian Dean Milles who described it in some detail.

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. Within the landscape of Dartmoor
there are many discrete plots of land enclosed by stone walls or banks of
stone and earth, most of which date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC), though
earlier and later examples also exist. They were constructed as stock pens or
as protected areas for crop growing and were sometimes subdivided to
accommodate stock and hut circle dwellings for farmers and herdsmen. The size
and form of enclosures may therefore vary considerably depending on their
particular function. Their variation in form, longevity and relationship to
other monument classes 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.

Despite some historic robbing, the enclosure on Cator Common, 400m ESE of
Riddon Brake survives comparatively well and the use of particularly
substantial orthostats in its construction reflects its importance within a
special and particularly well preserved archaeological landscape. The
substantial nature of the enclosure suggests that it may have played an
important role in ritual practises on prehistoric Dartmoor, but if built for
domestic purposes only, its unusual construction reflects its special position
in the prehistoric society of this area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 137-8

Source: Historic England

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