An agglomerated enclosed stone hut circle settlement at Bishop’s Meads, 560m north east of Eastern White Barrow.
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.
Despite remodelling and modification of the earlier enclosures and buildings during the medieval period the agglomerated enclosed stone hut circle settlement at Bishop’s Meads, 560m north east of Eastern White Barrow, survives comparatively well and will contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, use, re-use, changing agricultural practices and climatic conditions on the moor during its various periods of use.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 5 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 an agglomerated enclosed stone hut circle settlement situated at Bishop’s Meads on a steep north east facing slope of the Avon Valley. The settlement survives as three roughly oval conjoined enclosures which contain up to 11 stone hut circles and a range of later rectangular pens. The enclosure walls vary in height from 0.3m to 1m and are up to 5m wide. The hut circles vary in internal diameter from 3m to 6.8m and are defined by outer walls measuring up to 4m wide and 1m high. Seven hut circles are directly attached to enclosure walls, two are freestanding and two others are linked by a wall which also subdivides an enclosure. One hut appears to have been remodelled and is now D-shaped and the largest hut has an interior dividing wall. On the northern side three later small rectangular pens abut an internal enclosure wall. These are probably 13th or 14th century stock pens belonging to a nearby monastic settlement downstream, hence the name ‘Bishop’s Meads’.
Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of the monument, some are scheduled, but others are not currently protected and these are not included within the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.