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Three stone alignments, 15 cairns, a cist, a partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement and a small clapper bridge at Drizzle Combe

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Three stone alignments, 15 cairns, a cist, a partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement and a small clapper bridge at Drizzle Combe

List entry Number: 1014145

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Sheepstor

National Park: DARTMOOR

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 24-May-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Mar-2001

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 24104

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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. Despite limited excavation, the 3 stone alignments, 15 cairns, cist, partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement, short length of modified reave, leat and small clapper bridge at Drizzle Combe survive well and together form part of a particularly impressive collection of Dartmoor monuments. A division can be seen within the distribution of the monument's prehistoric remains, with the partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement lying on the hillslope overlooking evidence of ceremonial activity including stone alignments and cairns. The division of distinct areas within the monument is however not respected by the distribution of cairns which appear in both areas. Stone alignments or stone rows consist of upright stones set in single file or in avenues of two or more parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often physically linked to burial monuments, such as small cairns and cists, are considered to have had an important ceremonial function, and to mostly date from the Late Neolithic period (about 2400-2000BC). Cairns and cists are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (about 2000-700 BC). They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds and 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 considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provides important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. The partially enclosed stone hut circle settlement was the dwelling place of prehistoric farmers. Settlements such as this 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 provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. A field boundary which divides the settlement into two parts is considered to be part of the Willings Walls Reave, which was modified during the medieval period to form part of a field system. 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. In common with the length leading through the settlement at Drizzle Combe, 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 important information on the diversity of social organisation, land divisions and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. The prehistoric archaeology dominates the monument, but the surviving evidence does not solely belong to this period. During the medieval period the area was enclosed within a field system, and later cut by leats, one of which was crossed by a small clapper bridge. This monument is a popular visitor attraction and is regularly used for educational purposes.

History

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

Details

This monument includes 3 stone alignments, 15 cairns, a cist, 5 enclosures, 19 stone hut circles, a length of boundary bank, 2 sections of leat and a clapper bridge lying in the triangle of land between Drizzle Combe Brook and the River Plym. With the exception of the boundary bank, leat and clapper bridge, all these remains are of Neolithic and Bronze Age date. The monument is situated on the lower slopes of a gentle south west facing spur leading from Higher Hartor and overlooks the valley of the River Plym. A division can be seen within the distribution of the monument's prehistoric remains: the settlement, in the form of hut circles and associated enclosures, appears on the uphill north east side, overlooking evidence for ceremonial activity, in the form of the stone alignments, on the lower south west side. The division of distinct areas within the monument is not respected by the distribution of cairns which appear in both areas, although the largest, the Giant's Basin, lies within the vicinity of the stone alignments. The southernmost stone alignment is orientated approximately north east to south west and includes a double row of stones along its central length and a single line of stones at either end. This unusual mixture of a single and double row within a single alignment may be an original feature, and not the result of partial robbing. The alignment measures 150m long and includes 6 recumbent and 80 upright stones, with an average height of 0.3m, although the blocking stone at the south western end is much larger and stands up to 3.2m high. The spacing of the stones along the row averages 1.2m and the distance between the rows along the double length averages 0.9m. A cairn denotes the upper end of the alignment and this survives as a 6.7m diameter mound standing up to 0.8m high. A hollow in the centre of the mound represents the site of robbing or a partial early excavation. A small number of edge set stones around the periphery of the mound represent a kerb, which survives largely as a buried feature. A large flat stone, measuring 1.7m long, 1m wide and 0.3m thick, situated immediately south of the mound may be the displaced coverstone from a cist. The northernmost stone alignment is also orientated approximately north east to south west and includes a 150m long, single row of 2 recumbent and 69 upright stones with an average height of 0.24m, although the blocking stone at the south western end is much larger and stands up to 2.4m high. The spacing of the stones along the row averages 1.2m. A cairn denotes the upper end of the row and this survives as a 9m diameter mound standing up to 1m high. A hollow in the centre of this mound also represents the site of a partial early excavation or robbing. Surrounding the cairn is a ring of seven upright stones set 0.5m from its periphery. The easternmost stone alignment lies nearly parallel with the other two and includes an 82.2m long, single row of 3 recumbent and 11 upright stones with an average height of 0.38m, although the blocking stone at the south western end is much larger, stands up to 4.2m high and is the tallest example on the Moor. Sometime prior to 1963 the northern face of this stone was defaced with Chinese graffiti, though this is now weathered and not obtrusive. The spacing of the stones along the row varies between 3m and 4.5m. A cairn denotes the upper end of the row and this survives as a 9m diameter mound standing up to 0.9m. A central hollow represents the site of robbing or partial early excavation. Surrounding the mound, is a ring of 12 upright stones set 1.5m from its periphery. Within the vicinity of the three stone alignments are a further nine cairns. All but one of these cairns has seen limited damage as a result of partial early excavation or robbing. With the exception of one, known as the Giant's Basin, these vary in diameter from 2m to 8.8m and in height from 0.2m to 0.8m. The Giant's Basin survives as a 22m diameter stony mound standing up to 3m high. A ditch, from which material was quarried during the construction of the cairn, surrounds the mound. This has become infilled over the years but survives as a 2.5m wide band of rushes, the result of increased moisture in the buried ditch. One of the cairns survives as a cist, with a 1.3m long and 0.7m wide flat stone resting on three small stones set into the ground. Some of the cairns are defined by kerbs. A further five cairns survive in close proximity to the enclosures and stone hut circles which form the northern part of the monument. All of these cairns have hollowed centres indicating that they have been the subject of investigation in the past. They vary in diameter from 4.5m to 20m and in height from 0.3m to 1.5m. The largest cairn is surrounded by a 2.5m wide quarry ditch and another is defined by a kerb of set stones. Within the vicinity of this last group of cairns, 5 enclosures (2 of which are attached to each other) survive together with at least 19 stone hut circles. The northern enclosure is agglomerate, includes two separate enclosed areas, covers 0.45ha and contains six stone hut circles. The western enclosed element is the earliest, measures 62m east to west by 58m north to south internally and is defined by a 2m wide rubble wall standing up to 0.7m high. Two stone hut circles lie within this enclosure and another is attached to its inner face. The interior of the eastern enclosed element is sub-circular in shape and measures 38m north west to south east by 40m north east to south west. Three stone hut circles, two of which are conjoined, are linked by the eastern enclosure walling, strongly suggesting that they were built prior to this enclosure's construction. All six stone hut circles include banks of stone and earth surrounding a circular internal area. The internal diameter of the huts varies between 1.2m and 7.3m, with the average being 3.7m. The height of the surrounding wall varies between 0.4m and 0.7m, with the average being 0.53m. One of the huts has a porch, one is attached to, and three are linked by, the enclosure boundary wall. The central sub-circular enclosure contains two stone hut circles, measures 74m north to south by 68m east to west internally, and is defined by a rubble wall, 1.5m wide and up to 0.7m high, which is lined by slabs on the inner face of the north west quadrant. The south eastern corner of the enclosure has been slighted by a 1.6m wide and 0.6m high, medieval boundary bank, whose alignment suggests that it was built on the line of an extension of the Willings Wall Reave. The stone hut circles within this enclosure are composed of stone and earth banks surrounding a circular internal area. The northern stone hut circle is attached to the inner face of the enclosure. Its interior measures 5.3m in diameter and is defined by a 1.5m wide wall standing up to 0.4m high. A south west facing gap in the surrounding wall may represent an original doorway. The southern stone hut circle lies within the enclosure and includes a 1.9m wide and 0.6m high wall surrounding a 4.3m diameter internal area. A SSW facing gap, lined on both sides with upright slabs represents the original doorway. The southern enclosure is sub-circular in shape, contains two stone hut circles, measures 60m north to south and 52m east to west internally and is defined by a rubble wall 2m wide and up to 0.5m high. A post-medieval leat cuts through the enclosure from east to west and a scarp lying some 10m to the north of this may represent an earlier route taken by this leat. The stone hut circles are composed of stone and earth banks surrounding a circular internal area. The northern stone hut circle includes a 5.3m diameter interior surrounded by a 1.5m wide and 0.4m high double orthostatic wall. A south west facing gap in the wall may represent an original doorway. The southern stone hut circle survives as a 1.5m wide and 0.4m high wall surrounding a 2m diameter internal area. A SSW facing gap in the wall may represent an original doorway. The eastern enclosure is the smallest within the settlement and contains one stone hut circle. This sub-oval enclosure measures 22m north to south by 42m east to west internally and is defined by a 2m wide lynchetted rubble wall standing up to 0.8m high. The stone hut circle is composed of an oval stone and earth bank surrounding an internal area which measures 4.2m long by 4m wide and is surrounded by a 1.3m wide wall standing up to 0.7m high. A south facing gap in the surrounding wall is lined by slabs on both sides and represents an original doorway. This building is attached to the inner face on the western circuit of enclosure boundary wall and a small area measuring 4m long by 2.4m wide between the building and the southern length of the boundary may represent a stock pen or covered outbuilding. At least eight stone hut circles lie outside the enclosures and these are composed of stone and earth banks surrounding an internal area. One building is oval in shape and its interior, defined by a 2m wide rubble bank standing up to 0.5m high measures 4m long by 2.3m wide. The interiors of the remaining huts are circular in shape and vary between 3.7m and 8m in diameter, with the average being 5.97m. The height of all the walls varies between 0.4m and 0.9m, with the average being 0.64m. Four of the huts have visible doorways and one is attached to a short length of boundary wall. A length of boundary bank leading between the huts and enclosures survives as a 224m long, 1.6m wide rubble bank standing up to 0.6m high and forms part of a medieval field system which covers much of southern and western lower slopes of Higher Hartor. The boundary bank appears to slight the central prehistoric enclosure, although the relationship cannot be proven from surface evidence alone. The alignment of the boundary suggests that it may have been built on the line of an extension of the Willings Wall Reave, although it does appear to have been modified during the historic period. Two post-medieval leats cut through the monument. The southern leat cuts across the southern stone alignment and, although now dry, leads from the River Plym at SX59426696 to the tin streamwork on the Drizzle Combe Brook at SX59036708 and may have once continued to Ditsworthy at SX58366630 and to Sheepstor at SX56056764. Within the monument, the leat survives as a 1.3m wide and 0.15m deep channel and the associated bank of material upcast downslope during construction measures 1.5m wide and 0.15m high. The northern leat cuts through the southernmost enclosure and the reused boundary bank. The leat, although now dry, leads from the River Plym at SX61076720 to the tin streamwork on the Drizzle Combe Brook at SX59156740 and may have once also continued to Ditsworthy and Sheepstor. Within the monument, the leat survives as a 1.5m wide and 0.3m deep channel and the associated bank of material upcast downslope during construction measures 2.3m wide and 0.6m high. This leat is spanned by a small clapper bridge which survives as five parallel placed stone slabs laid across the leat channel and measures 2m long by 1.5m wide. This bridge was probably constructed to carry traffic using the hollow way which leads southwards from this area.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Breton, H H, Beautiful Dartmoor and its interesting antiquities, (1990), 45
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 136
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 135-6
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 135-36
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 137
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 128-29
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 141-2
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 142
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 128-9
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 137
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 138
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 138
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 139
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 139-40
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 136
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 136
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 434-5
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 434-35
Mercer, R J, Wilson, J G, An Archaeological Field Survey of the Upper Plym Valley, etc, (1986)
Somers Cocks, J, A Dartmoor Century 1883 - 1983, (1983), 39
Somers Cocks, J, A Dartmoor Century 1883 - 1983, (1983), 39
Somers Cocks, J, A Dartmoor Century 1883 - 1983, (1983), 39
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 209-212
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 210
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 211
Emmett, D D, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Stone Rows: The Traditional View Reconsidered, , Vol. 37, (1979), 111
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 80
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 79
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 78
Other
(1993)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE080, (1982)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE22, (1988)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE276, (1972)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE276-01, (1972)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE277, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE277-01, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE367, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE37, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE371, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE38, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE41, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE446, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE46, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE539, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE540, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE73, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE74, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE77, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE77-01, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE80-02, (1983)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56SE137, (1992)
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1993)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE44,

National Grid Reference: SX 59303 67173

Map

Map
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End of official listing