Pillow mound 610m SSW of Ditsworthy Warren House forming part of Willings Walls Warren
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 06-Mar-2021 at 07:17:30.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- South Hams (District Authority)
- Shaugh Prior
- National Park:
- National Grid Reference:
- SX 58146 65717
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
The pillow mound 610m SSW of Ditsworthy Warren House survives well, forms part of the nationally important Willings Walls Warren and contains information relating to the exploitation of rabbits in the Upper Plym valley. This valley contains the densest concentration of pillow mounds and other structures associated with rabbit farming on the Moor.
This monument includes a pillow mound situated on a gentle north facing slope
overlooking the Hentor Brook. This mound forms 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
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.
This pillow mound survives as a 29m long, 6m wide and 0.5m high, flat-topped,
rectangular shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 1.8m wide and
0.2m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. The
entire eastern side and part of the west are revetted by drystone walling.
The tin streamwork earthworks lying 2m from the eastern edge of the monument
are not included within the scheduling because they are not currently
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:
Books and journals
Brewer, D, A field guide to the boundary markers on and around Dartmoor, (1986), 52-4
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE237, (1985)
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE135,
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
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