Three pillow mounds and a military training pit 1000m ENE of Merrivale Bridge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014609

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Three pillow mounds and a military training pit 1000m ENE of Merrivale Bridge
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Dartmoor Forest

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 55935 75488


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 three pillow mounds 1000m ENE of Merrivale Bridge form part of the nationally important Merrivale Warren and contain information relating to the exploitation of rabbits in the Walkham valley.


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


This monument includes three pillow mounds and a military training pit situated on the gentle north west facing slope of Over Tor overlooking the valley of the River Walkham. The pillow mounds form part of Merrivale Warren, which includes at least 27 pillow mounds scattered along the lower slopes of Great Mis Tor, Little Mis Tor and Over Tor. It has been suggested that many of the pillow mounds within the Merrivale Warren may be of medieval date because of their unusual oval shape and association with a nearby medieval settlement. Most of the pillow mounds lie within the Merrivale Newtake but some, including these three, lie on open moorland just outside the intake wall. All three pillow mounds survive as flat topped, oval shaped mounds of soil and stone surrounded by the ditches from which material was quarried during their construction. The northern mound measures 6.2m long, 3.7m wide and 0.6m high and the surrounding ditch is 1.5m wide and up to 0.2m deep. A 1m wide and 0.2m deep trench cutting across the width of the mound may be the result of an early part excavation by an antiquarian who mistook the mound for a long cairn. The western mound is 8.3m long, 4.1m wide and 0.9m high, whilst its ditch is 2m wide and 0.5m deep. The eastern mound measures 8.2m long, 4m wide and 0.7m high, and its ditch is 1.5m wide and 0.2m deep. A 2.8m diameter ring of stones protruding through the turf is shown on the map extract as a cairn, though it is more likely to be the remains of a back filled military training pit excavated during World War II. The area surrounding this monument may contain further archaeological features and deposits, but they are not currently being proposed for scheduling because they cannot be accurately assessed or mapped.

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: 24207

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 82
Crossing, W, Crossing's Dartmoor Worker, (1992), 114
Linehan, C D, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Deserted Sites and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, , Vol. 10, (1966), 141-2
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57NE-013, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX57NE29,

End of official listing