Three enclosed stone hut circle settlements and a medieval farmstead 300m south-west of Brockhill Ford.
Reasons for Designation
Despite partial excavation and reservoir flooding the three enclosed stone hut circle settlements and a medieval farmstead 300m south-west of Brockhill Ford generally survive very well and together with other nearby broadly contemporary settlement sites, provide an important insight into the nature of Bronze Age and medieval occupation and land-use. The different relationships between the stone hut circles and enclosure walling suggests a chronological depth. The evidence for Bronze Age tin smelting is particularly noteworthy.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 5 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 includes three enclosed prehistoric settlements and a medieval farmstead situated on a gentle south facing slope of Dean Moor overlooking the Avon Reservoir. The southern settlement, survives partly within the Avon Reservoir, as an irregular shaped enclosure containing at least 15 stone hut circles, a length of walling and two animal pens. A further four structures attached to the outer western face represent further huts and pens. Excavations were carried out within this enclosure by Lady Fox in 1954-76. In the huts her findings included post-holes, hearths, internal divisions, paved floors and an underground storage chamber. Artefacts recovered included pot-boilers, whetstones, pottery, unfired clay, flint tools, saddle querns, spindle whorls and two carnelian beads. Of significant interest was the discovery of a deposit of iron ore and a small piece of tin slag. This last find provides the only conclusive evidence of Bronze Age tin exploitation on Dartmoor. The central settlement includes an agglomerated enclosure incorporating five stone hut circles in its walls. A further free-standing hut is situated with the south-western part of the northern enclosure. The northern settlement includes an agglomerated enclosure with four elements and at least 26 stone hut circles. Most of the huts are either within or attached to the enclosure walls suggesting that this settlement developed considerably after the building of the enclosures. Two huts lie a short distance east of the southern enclosure.
The medieval farmstead is a short distance south of the southern enclosure and lies fully within the Avon Reservoir. The farmstead was also excavated by Fox revealing a compact group of structures including a two-roomed house, byre, animal pen, yard and paddock. Large numbers of artefacts provided evidence of occupation during the 13th and 14th centuries. The farmstead has been identified as a seasonal dwelling of lay bothers from Buckfast Abbey and it was abandoned around the time of the Black Death. Henry Walbrook, the last of the lay brothers is said to have set fire to the house as they departed for the final time.
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.