Part of a partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement on Heatree Down 500m south east of Heathercombe.
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 partial excavation and the removal of part of the enclosure boundary wall, the part of a partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement on Heatree Down 500m south east of Heathercombe survives well and is known from excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, use, development, agricultural practices and climatic changes affecting its landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 10 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, which falls into two areas, includes part of a partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement situated on the lower north western slopes of Heatree Down. The settlement remains within the monument survive as a circular enclosure measuring up to 58m in diameter internally defined by a wall up to 1.5m wide and 0.4m high which contains seven stone hut circles, with a further two outlying huts to the north and four more to the south. The enclosure has had part of its western wall cut by a later plantation wall. Four stone hut circles are attached to the enclosure wall and of these, two are interlinked by a separate curving wall and two are conjoined. The remaining three are freestanding within the enclosure. Throughout the settlement the stone hut circles vary in size from 3.9m to 6m in diameter internally and are defined by double orthostatic walls. The largest examples are outside the enclosure, the smaller ones are within it. The four southern stone hut circles and two huts against the eastern enclosure wall were partially excavated by Minter for the Devon Archaeological Society in 1968. Excavations within the enclosure did not proceed below the later rubble layer, but those to the south were excavated more fully. This work revealed Trevisker pottery and lithics. Internal structural evidence included post holes, paved surfaces and hearths.
Further stone hut circles forming part of this settlement stand to the north of the monument, but these are not included within the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.