Pillow mound 270m south east of Ditsworthy Warren House forming part of Hentor Warren
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014477
Date first listed: 03-Jul-2000
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: South Hams (District Authority)
Parish: Shaugh Prior
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 58548 66053
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 270m south east of Ditsworthy Warren House forms part of the nationally important Hentor Warren and contains information relating to the exploitation of rabbits in the Upper Plym valley. The adaptation of an earlier spoil dump 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.
This monument includes a pillow mound situated amongst earlier tin
streamworking earthworks within the Plym valley bottom. This mound forms part
of Hentor Warren, which includes around 50 pillow mounds and 10 vermin traps
scattered along the hillside between Spanish Lake and Shavercombe Brook.
Hentor Warren, which covers an area of approximately 180ha, was established by
at least 1807, when a lease was granted by Lord Boringdon to Peter Nicholls, a
warrener from Sheepstor. The warren is denoted by the River Plym along its
north western side and by a series of five boundary stones (of which only
three survive), leading from Spanish Lake Head via Shavercombe Head to
Colesmills. Hentor Farm is considered to have been used as the warren house.
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 an 8.7m long, 4.7m wide and 1.4m high, flat-
topped, oblong shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 2m wide and
0.2m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. The
pillow mound lies on top of earlier alluvial tin streamworking earthworks and
is therefore clearly more recent than the last phase of tin exploitation in
this part of the River Plym.
The streamwork earthworks below the mound and ditch are included in the
Further archaeological features surviving within the vicinity of this monument
are the subjects of separate schedulings.
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: 24078
Legacy System: RSM
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, SX56NE236, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
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