Agglomerated enclosed stone hut circle settlement called Rider’s Rings.
Reasons for Designation
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. Rider’s Rings lies in an isolated location and is exceptionally well preserved. Where stones have fallen, they remain exactly where they originally landed. It was re-occupied only once, by a tinner who built a shelter amongst the walls. It is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive of Dartmoor’s many incredible prehistoric features. It will contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, use and landscape context, the significance of which cannot be over emphasised.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 5 November 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument includes an agglomerated enclosed stone hut circle settlement called Rider’s Rings overlooking the valley of the River Avon. The monument survives as a roughly rectangular enclosure to the south west measuring 130m long by 105m wide internally, with a slightly curving enclosure abutted to the north east measuring 220m long by 70m wide defined by double faced banks measuring up to 6m wide and 1.5m high. Within the southern enclosure there are at least 16 stone hut circles. Of these, nine are attached to the enclosure wall and seven are free standing. One has a conjoined annexe, another is subdivided by an internal wall and in one instance a freestanding hut is connected to an attached hut by a short length of walling. There are also seven courtyards, of varying shape, five are attached to the enclosure wall and two are freestanding. The northern enclosure is of a different character. There are up to 18 courts or pens attached to the enclosure wall with one free standing in the interior. In this enclosure there are up to 9 stone hut circles and of these only one is connected to the enclosure wall the others are spread throughout the interior. During the medieval period a rectangular tinner’s shelter measuring 5.5m long by 2.3m wide was constructed in the northern enclosure amongst the already existing court walls attached to the northern enclosure wall. There was a partial excavation of two hut circles by Worth in 1930 which produced charcoal, cooking stones, flint flakes, pottery fragments, a whetstone and revealed one stone slab acting as a firescreen.
Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of the monument, but these are not included within the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.