Settlement on Smallacombe Rocks
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002531
Date first listed: 13-Jan-1961
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Teignbridge (District Authority)
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 75583 78211
A stone hut circle settlement within part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system at Smallacombe Rocks.
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. They are particularly representative of their period. 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.
Despite partial early excavation the stone hut circle settlement within part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system at Smallacombe Rocks survives well and will include important archaeological evidence relating to its construction, development, agricultural use and relationship with the larger coaxial field system as well as environmental information concerning its landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 4 November 2015. The 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.
The monument includes a stone hut circle settlement within part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system surrounding Smallacombe Rocks and overlooking the Becka Brook. The settlement survives as four stone hut circles, a shelter and four rectangular fields. The stone hut circles are defined by orthostatic and rubble built walls and range in size between 6.6m and 8.8m in diameter internally. A semi-circular stony bank built against the face of the central rock outcrop could be a hut or possibly a later shelter. It has an internal diameter of 3.8m with a bank measuring 3.3m wide and 0.4m high. Surrounding the hut circles and tor are four roughly rectangular fields which form part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system. The field walls are well built and measure up to 0.5m high and 1m wide and contain many taller orthostats. Three of the huts are attached to the enclosure walls and one is freestanding. The stone hut circles were excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee in 1896 and produced flints, charcoal, a rubbing stone and some incised and decorated pottery. Many of the stones surrounding the tor show evidence of later stone working activity. The monument is crossed by several well defined paths.
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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 452
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
PastScape Monument No:-445002
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing