A stone hut circle settlement with associated enclosures and a medieval long house within part of the Wigford Down coaxial field system, 700m south west of Durance.
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. 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.
Long houses were the dominant type of farmhouse in upland settlements of south-west England between the 10th and 16th centuries. Rectangular in plan, their long axis orientated downslope, the interiors of long houses were divided into two separate functional areas, an upslope domestic room and a downslope stock byre, known in south-west England as a shippon. The proportions of the plan occupied by the domestic room and the shippon vary considerably but the division between the two was usually provided by a cross passage of timber screens or rubble walling running transversely through the long house, linking opposed openings in the long side walls.
The stone hut circle settlement with associated enclosures and a medieval long house within part of the Wigford Down coaxial field system, 700m south west of Durance, survive well and represent the complex palimpsest of agricultural settlement throughout the past in times of ameliorating climatic conditions on Dartmoor.
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 a stone hut circle settlement with associated enclosures and a medieval long house which fall within a coaxial field system in the centre of Wigford Down. The stone hut circle settlement survives as two circular buildings which are linked by a double walled drove way and enclosed by a series of small irregular shaped fields of varying shape and size which all fall within a coaxial field system . The stone hut circles are defined by rubble or double faced orthostatic walls measuring up to 1.5m wide and 1m high which enclose circular areas with internal diameters of up to 9.5m. A stone in the wall of one building bears a carefully incised inscription reading ‘JTCP’.
To the south west of the enclosures is a medieval longhouse which falls within a later field system. The longhouse survives as a rectangular building defined by low walls measuring up to 1.5m wide and 0.6m high. The interior of the building is 12.5m long by 3.8m wide. There is an entrance on the south side and an interior cross wall. A 3m long flanking wall outside the entrance represents the upstanding remains of a porch with a further yard and garden plots beyond.