Vermin trap 620m south east of Legis Tor forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014463

Date first listed: 03-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Vermin trap 620m south east of Legis Tor forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Shaugh Prior

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 57593 65225


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 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 protection.

The vermin trap 620m south east of Legis Tor survives well, forms part of the nationally important Trowlesworthy Warren and contains information relating to the exploitation of rabbits in the Upper Plym valley. The superimposition of this vermin trap upon earlier spoil dumps in a tin streamwork provides stratigraphical information relating to these two activities. This valley contains the densest concentration of vermin traps and other structures associated with rabbit farming on the Moor.


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


This monument includes a vermin trap situated on the side and at the foot of a river terrace immediately adjacent to the River Plym. The vermin trap includes two adjacent `V'-shaped lengths of drystone wall, together forming an `X'- shaped trap. The position of the trap suggests that it was designed to capture vermin using the river for access into the warren. The trapping area survives as a gap between the two lengths of wall. The south western arm measures 8.5m long and includes a line of large stones leading up the river terrace slope. The SSE arm is 10m long, up to 1m high and is composed of a rubble wall revetting the terrace. The north western arm is 7.7m long, up to 0.7m high and overlies an earlier alluvial tin streamwork spoil dump. The NNE arm is 9m long, up to 0.3m high and lies on top of another streamwork dump. 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 Trowlesworthy Warren, which includes around 64 pillow mounds and 40 vermin traps scattered along the slopes of Little and Great Trowlesworthy Tors. The boundaries of the warren are denoted by the River Plym, Spanish Lake and Blacka Brook. Trowlesworthy Warren is generally accepted as the oldest surviving warren on Dartmoor, although recently doubt has been expressed concerning its medieval origins. However, it is known that the warren existed by 1651 when it was occupied by John Hamblin, a skinner from Plymouth. The warren appears to have remained in constant use from this time until the first half of the 20th century. The streamwork earthworks below and within 2m of the trap are included in the scheduling. Further archaeological features surviving within the vicinity of this monument are the subjects of separate schedulings. This monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.

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: 24214

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 431
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE105, (1982)
Gerrard, G.A.M., The Early Cornish Tin Industry: An Arch. & Historical Survey, 1986, Unpubl. PhD thesis, St David's, Wales
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
PWDRO/72/1034, (1625)
Robertson, J G, The Archaeology of the Upper Plym, 1991, Unpub. Ph.D. Thesis (Edinburgh)
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

End of official listing