Two pillow mounds and a small area of tin streamwork 510m south west of Ditsworthy Warren House forming part of Willings Walls Warren

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014467

Date first listed: 03-Jul-2000

Map

Ordnance survey map of Two pillow mounds and a small area of tin streamwork 510m south west of Ditsworthy Warren House forming part of Willings Walls Warren
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Location

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 58035 65928

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 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 two pillow mounds 510m south west of Ditsworthy Warren House form part of the nationally important Willings Walls Warren and contain information relating to the exploitation of rabbits in the Upper Plym valley. The adaptation of earlier spoil dumps from a tin streamwork provides stratigraphical information relating to these two important activities. This valley contains the densest concentration of pillow mounds and other structures associated with rabbit farming on the Moor.

History

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

Details

This monument includes two pillow mounds situated amongst earlier tin streamworking earthworks within the Plym valley bottom. These mounds form part of Willings Walls Warren, which includes at least 18 pillow mounds scattered along the hillside and in the valley bottoms between Spanish Lake and Hentor Brook. Willings Walls Warren, which covers an area of approximately 113ha, was established by at least 1807, when a lease granted by Lord Boringdon to Peter Nicholls, a warrener from Sheepstor, clearly indicates that it formed part of Hentor Warren. Hentor Farm is considered to have been used as the warren house. The reason why this part of Hentor Warren was given a separate name is unclear, but it may refer back to a time when it was operated separately. Sometime shortly after 1815 the warren was taken over by and worked from nearby Ditsworthy and continued in use until the 1930s. The northern pillow mound survives as a 13.4m long, 5m wide and 1.2m high, flat-topped, oblong shaped mound of soil and stone, whilst the southern one measures 12.3m long, 5m wide and 1.2m high. These pillow mounds lie on top of earlier alluvial tin streamworking earthworks and are therefore clearly more recent than the last phase of tin exploitation in this part of the River Plym. The streamwork earthworks below and between the mounds are included in the scheduling.

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: 24218

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Brewer, D, A field guide to the boundary markers on and around Dartmoor, (1986), 52-4
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE236,
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)
PWDRO/72/990/51,31, (1583)

End of official listing