Hut circles in Erme Pound E of River Erme
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002604
Date first listed: 09-Jan-1973
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: South Hams (District Authority)
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 63759 65651
An enclosed stone hut circle settlement, animal pound and two shelters known collectively as Erme Pound.
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 circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on Dartmoor. They mostly date from the Bronze Age, with the earliest examples dating to about 1700 BC. The stone-based round houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area. The huts may occur in large groups and may 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. The term animal pound is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word `pund' meaning enclosure, and is used to describe stock-proof areas for confining stray or illegally pastured stock and legally-kept animals rounded up at certain times of the year from areas of common grazing. The earliest documentary references to pounds date from the 12th century and they continued to be constructed and used throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods. Shelters are small rectangular or oval buildings which provided temporary accommodation for a variety of moorland workers. The shelters vary considerably in size and whilst most were built of drystone walling and some have fireplaces, cupboards and benches.
Despite long and active re-use the enclosed stone hut circle settlement, animal pound and two shelters known collectively as Erme Pound survives well, is the largest settlement of this type on Dartmoor and demonstrates the economic, agricultural, settlement and industrial palimpsest superbly.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 11 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.
The monument includes an enclosed stone hut circle settlement, animal pound and two shelters situated in the upper Erme Valley to the east of the river and at the foot of Brown Heath. The settlement survives as an irregular shaped enclosure defined by massively built walls, the circuit of which measures up to a kilometre in length and contains many internal paddocks and boundaries, some of which are buried under accumulations of peat, together with approximately 29 stone hut circles. The whole settlement appears to have developed over time and forms three distinct areas. The southernmost is largely devoid of hut circles containing only two large freestanding examples and up to three smaller ones connected to two rectangular paddocks on the northern side. The central section is characterised by huts of varying size which are connected to paddocks, with only one large centrally placed example being freestanding, a further single hut circle and two paddocks are attached to the outside of the enclosure. The northernmost section contains the largest hut circles some of which are linked by boundaries with two further hut circles enclosed by a small rectangular paddock appended to the outside of the north west edge. The outer enclosure wall itself in this area was reused as a Duchy drive pound and the wall has been strengthened. Two external small rectangular buildings date to this remodelling phase, one the pound keeper’s shelter which has internal stone benches and the other a tinner’s hut with an additional outer porch. The animal pound was known to have been in use by the sixteenth century when it was mentioned in a lease.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 804
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
PastScape Monument Nos:-441626 and 441629
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