Vermin trap immediately south west of Legis Tor forming part of Legistor Warren
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008716
Date first listed: 07-Jun-2000
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Devon (District Authority)
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 57085 65557
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 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.
Warrens are areas of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits
or hares. They usually include a series of purpose-built breeding places,
known as pillow mounds and buries, vermin traps and enclosures designed to
contain and protect the animals, and living quarters for the warrener who kept
charge of the warren.
Pillow mounds are low oblong-shaped mounds of soil and/or stones in which the
animals lived. They are usually between 15m and 40m long and between 5m and
10m wide. Most have a ditch around at least three sides to facilitate
drainage. Inside are a series of narrow interconnecting trenches. These were
excavated and covered with stone or turf before the mound was constructed.
Vermin traps of various kinds are found within most warrens. These include a
small stone-lined passage into which the predator was funnelled by a series of
ditches or walls. Over 100 vermin traps have been recorded on the Moor, with
the majority lying in the Plym Valley.
Warren boundaries were often defined by a combination of natural features such
as rivers. Within the warrens themselves smaller enclosed areas defined by a
ditch and bank are sometimes found, and some of these may have been
specialised breeding areas. Many of the warrens on the Moor contain a house in
which the warrener lived.
Most of the surviving warren earthworks probably date to between the 17th
century and the later 19th century, with some continuing in use into the early
20th century. At least 22 warrens are known to exist on the Moor and together
they contribute to our understanding of the medieval and post-medieval
exploitation of the area. All well-preserved warrens are considered worthy of
The vermin trap immediately south west of Legis Tor is considered to be the best preserved example on Dartmoor, forms part of the nationally important Legistor Warren and contains information relating to the exploitation of rabbits in the Upper Plym valley.
This monument includes a vermin trap situated near the summit of Legis Tor
overlooking the valley of the River Plym. The vermin trap includes two
`V'-shaped lengths of walling, together forming an `X'-shaped trap with the
narrow funnel trapping area situated in the centre of the feature. The
trapping area includes two flat-sided stone slabs laid parallel to each other
and 12.7cm apart, covered by a large flat stone into which three small holes
have been cut. R H Worth considers that these holes were used in connection
with the tripping apparatus which let down the shutters and sprang the trap.
The grooves in which the shutters sat survive as notches cut into the long
side stones at the point where the coverstone ends. The walls forming the
funnel on either side of the trapping area are of unequal length. The
north western wall is 6.1m long, the north eastern wall is 8.2m long and is
attached to a rock outcrop as is the south eastern wall which measures only
3.66m long. The final wall of the trap measures 6.4m long and, like all the
others, is 0.75m wide by 0.3m high.
Vermin approaching their quarry tend to seek a route that provides visual
cover and the purpose of a trap was to funnel predators along ditches or
beside walls to a central point where they could be trapped.
This vermin trap forms part of the rabbit warren at Legis Tor which is
sometimes called New Warren and may have operated jointly with Trowlesworthy
Warren until recent times when it became an adjunct of Ditsworthy Warren. The
name New Warren strongly suggests that there was an earlier warren on the
site. Dating of the warren is difficult because there are no early
documentary references, although it is generally accepted that the warren on
the other side of the River Plym at Trowlesworthy had been established by
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 24130
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 157-162
Linehan, C D, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Deserted Sites and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, , Vol. 10, (1966), 141
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE94,
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
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