A stone hut circle forming part of an unenclosed settlement, and tinners' building at Watern Oke


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011568

Date first listed: 12-Aug-1993


Ordnance survey map of A stone hut circle forming part of an unenclosed settlement, and tinners' building at Watern Oke
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Dartmoor Forest

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 56953 83422


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.

The unenclosed stone hut circle settlement at Watern Oke is one of the largest on Dartmoor and, despite partial excavation, important and informative archaeological structures, features and deposits still survive. Such evidence will provide a valuable insight into the economy of the site's inhabitants and the landscape in which they lived. Tinners' buildings are the shelters and storage structures used by medieval and post-medieval tinners. They are found in close association with both streamworks and mines. They contain important information concerning the scale and character of tin exploitation on Dartmoor. The tinners' building at Watern Oke is situated in close proximity to a streamwork and was probably built on top of an earlier stone hut circle.


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


This monument includes a stone hut circle and a medieval or post-medieval rectangular tinners' building situated on a gentle south-facing slope overlooking the River Tavy; the hut circle forms part of the large unenclosed stone hut circle settlement at Watern Oke. The stone hut circle is terraced into the hillslope and is composed of a stone and earth wall 1.6m wide and 0.7m high, surrounding an internal area measuring 2.3m in diameter. The tinners' building is composed of a rectangular drystone wall, 1.2m wide and 0.8m high, surrounding an internal area of 5.8m long by 3.2m wide. A large earthfast boulder lies in the centre of the room and the doorway faces east. During June and July 1905 these structures were partially excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. There is no record of findings within the stone hut circle, though it was interpreted by the excavators as a cook-house. The excavation of the tinners' building strongly suggests that it was built on top of an earlier hut; finds included a large rubbing stone, pottery and a flint arrowhead. A corroded piece of iron also found in this structure was probably a knife contemporary with the later building.

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: 20363

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Anderson, I K, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Hut Circle Settlement at Watern Oke, , Vol. 38, (1906), 112
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)

End of official listing