Two stone hut circles, a reave, round cairn and shelter south east of Sharpitor

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011167

Date first listed: 01-Jun-1994

Map

Ordnance survey map of Two stone hut circles, a reave, round cairn and shelter south east of Sharpitor
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Walkhampton

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 56168 70227

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

In addition to the stone hut circles the monument includes a length of reave, which forms part of a coaxial field system. The reaves are part of an extensive system of prehistoric land division introduced during the Bronze Age. They consist of simple linear stone banks used to mark out discrete territories, some of which are tens of kilometres in extent. The systems are defined by parallel, contour and watershed reaves, dividing the lower land from the grazing zones of the higher moor and defining the watersheds of adjacent river systems. Occupation sites and funerary or ceremonial monuments are often incorporated in, or associated with, reave complexes. Their longevity and their relationship with other monument types provide information on the diversity of social organisation, land divisions and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They show considerable longevity as a monument type, sometimes surviving as fossilised examples in medieval field plans. They are an important element in the existing landscape and, as such, a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The monument also includes a round cairn. Round cairns are Bronze Age funerary monuments which were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, the latter predominating in areas of upland Britain where such raw materials were locally available in abundance. Round cairns may cover single or multiple burials and are sometimes surrounded by an outer ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major visual element in the modern landscape. Their variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation. Dartmoor provides one of the best preserved and most dense concentrations of round cairns in south western Britain. The final component of the monument is a medieval shelter. These structures provided temporary accommodation for shepherds, peat-cutters, tinners and others who worked on the Moor. The shelters contain information relating to seasonal and occasional use of the moor during the medieval and post-medieval periods. The two stone hut circles, length of reave, round cairn and medieval shelter south east of Sharpitor survive comparatively well and lie within an area containing a large number of contemporary settlements, fields and enclosures.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

This monument includes a north west-south east orientated reave and, set along the north side of it, two stone hut circles, a round cairn and shelter, situated on a gentle east-facing slope overlooking the valley of the River Meavy. Both stone hut circles are terraced into the hillslope and are composed of stone and earth walls surrounding an internal area. The northern hut is oval in shape, measures 3.6m long by 2.4m wide and is defined by a 1.2m wide wall standing up to 0.2m high. A gap in the southern wall represents an original doorway. The southern hut, which is attached to the north eastern side of the Leather Tor reave, is also oval in shape, with 1m wide and 0.4m high walls surrounding an interior measuring 2.2m long by 1.6m wide. The doorway leading from this structure faces north east. The Leather Tor Reave extends for 255m from the clitter on the east side of Sharpitor to the clitter north of Leather Tor. The reave survives as a 0.7m high, prominent rubble bank with an average width of 3.5m. In the southern half of its length, there are 11 gaps, but none appear to be original. The Leather Tor reave is a transverse boundary, which would have originally lead at a right angle from the Walkhampton Common reave and would have sub-divided open pasture land. The round cairn measures 5.3m in diameter and stands up to 0.6m high. A hollow in the northern side of the mound, suggests partial early excavation or robbing. The stone shelter is probably of medieval date. The interior of the building is rectangular in shape, measures 6m long by 3.7m wide and is defined by a 1m wide rubble wall standing up to 0.3m high. A gap in the south west wall represents an original doorway.

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.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 22282

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 50
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE187,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE188,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE277,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE278,
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE119,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE122,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE123,
Raymond, F, Single Monument Class Description - Coaxial Field Systems, (1987)

End of official listing