Stone hut circle settlement, irregular aggregate field system, two long houses and a medieval and post-medieval field system 700m SSW of Black Tor
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 12-Nov-2019 at 07:53:27.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Devon (District Authority)
- National Park:
- National Grid Reference:
- SX 57027 71133
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 an irregular aggregate field system. Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are a major feature of the Dartmoor landscape. Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have been employed in south west England from the Bronze Age to the Roman period. They comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. They are often located around or near ceremonial and funerary monuments. They are an important element of the existing landscape and are representative of farming practice over a long period. Within the landscape of Dartmoor there are many discrete plots of land enclosed by stone walls or banks of stone and earth, most of which date to the Bronze Age, though earlier and later examples also exist. They were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing and were sometimes subdivided to accommodate stock and hut circle dwellings for farmers and herdsmen. The size and form of enclosures may therefore vary considerably depending on their particular function. Their variation in form, longevity and relationship to other monument classes provide important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. Medieval features within the monument include two long houses and a strip field system. Long houses are one of several distinctive forms of medieval farmhouse. Rectangular in plan, usually with boulder and rubble outer walls and with their long axis orientated downslope, the interior of long houses was divided into two separate functional areas, an upslope domestic room and a downslope stock byre, known in south west England as a shippon. The proportions occupied by the domestic and shippon areas vary considerably but the division between the two, and their access, was usually provided by a cross-passage of timber screens or sometimes rubble walling, running transversely through the long house, linking opposed openings in the long side-walls. Excavation within the domestic areas of long houses has revealed stone hearths, cooking pits, benches, postholes for internal fittings and medieval artefacts. Excavation within the shippon areas has revealed stone- built drains, usually along the central axis, paving and edging slabs defining mangers. Long houses may be accompanied by ancillary buildings, separated slightly from the farmhouse itself, or by outshuts, attached to the long house and often extending one end. These additional structures sometimes served as fuel stores and occasionally contained ovens or corn drying kilns. The earliest known long houses date to the 10th or 11th centuries AD, but their main period of construction was during the later 12th to 15th centuries AD. The tradition was largely superseded by other plan forms in the post-medieval period though some long houses continued to be occupied, with subsequent alterations and additions. Long houses are known throughout northern, western and southern England, but have been longest recognised as a distinctive plan form in south west England. As the standard type of medieval farmhouse plan in the south western uplands, they may occur singly or grouped to form villages and may be related with the various types of field system and enclosure current in the medieval period. The stone hut circle settlement, irregular aggregate field system, two long houses and associated field system 700m SSW of Black Tor survive well, despite reuse of the area during the post-medieval period. This monument provides archaeological evidence relating to the continued use of a small area of upland landscape between the Bronze Age and post-medieval periods and is thus an important source of information concerning the development of settlement and agriculture on Dartmoor.
This monument includes an unenclosed stone hut circle settlement, an irregular
aggregate field system, a D-shaped enclosure containing two stone hut circles,
two long houses, a medieval strip field system and post-medieval field
boundaries situated on a gentle south-facing slope overlooking the valley of
the River Meavy.
The stone hut circles are composed of stone and earth banks surrounding an
internal area. Of the 33 hut circles, only one is oval in plan and this
measures 4.5m long by 2.4m wide. The remaining 32 huts are circular in plan
and the internal diameter of these buildings vary from 2m to 8.4m. The height
of the walls varies between 0.3m and 0.9m, with the average being 0.59m.
Twelve of the huts have visible doorways, one is conjoined and 23 are attached
to contemporary boundary walls.
The irregular aggregate field system includes 15 field plots defined by
rubble walls, many of which are lyncheted. These walls vary considerably in
character, but average 1.4m wide and 0.4m high. Twenty-nine of the stone hut
circles lie within this field system, of which seven are situated within the
field plots and the remainder are attached to the boundary walls.
To the north of this prehistoric field system is a small D-shaped enclosure
containing two stone hut circles. The interior of the enclosure measures 41m
north to south by 28m east to west and is defined by a rubble wall, up to 3.5m
wide and 0.4m high. The southern length of the boundary bank is no longer
visible as an earthwork, and survives as a buried feature.
Two medieval long houses and associated strip field system survive within the
area defined by the earlier prehistoric field system. The northern long house
is terraced into the hillslope, is rectangular in plan and is composed of
rubble walls containing some large orthostats. The interior of the structure
measures 12m long by 3m wide and is defined by a 1.5m wide wall standing up to
0.5m high. The southern wall has seen limited damage as a result of a post-
medieval wall being built over it. Stone hut circles in the vicinity of this
long house may have been reused as storage buildings. The southern longhouse
survives as a 15m long by 5.3m wide internal area defined by a rubble bank
lying directly below a post-medieval building of drystone construction. This
building is attached to one of the medieval strip-field boundaries. The strip
field system survives as two elongated field plots, defined by three parallel
rubble banks. These boundaries are roughly faced with stone and measure 1.2m
wide and 0.3m high and overlie the earlier prehistoric field system. The
northern and southern edges of the fields are no longer visible as earthworks.
The surviving strip fields cover an area of 2 ha.
A post-medieval field system lies partly within the monument and survives as a
series of sub-rectangular field plots, defined by stone and earth walls. These
boundaries are of drystone construction and measure 1.2m wide and stand up to
1.8m high. They overlie the earlier prehistoric and medieval field systems,
many stone hut circles and two long houses. Apart from the fields, an
irregular shaped pound measuring 55m east to west by 38m north to south and a
rebuilt stone hut circle belong to this period of activity. The farmstead
associated with these fields is Stanlake at SX 56957090.
The post-medieval fields lying outside the area defined by the prehistoric and
medieval field systems are not included within this scheduling because they
are not considered to be of national importance.
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:
- Legacy System:
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE101,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE41,
Gerrard, S., SM 22288 The Medieval, (1992)
Gerrard, S., SM 22288 The Post-Medieval, (1992)
Gerrard, S., SM 22288 The Prehistoric, (1992)
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
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