Pillow mound 760m ENE of Trowlesworthy Warren House, forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014611
Date first listed: 24-Nov-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 57509 65001
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 760m ENE of Trowlesworthy Warren House, forms part of the nationally important Trowlesworthy 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 west facing
slope overlooking the River Plym. This mound 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
the Moor. Sometime before 1292 Samson de Traylesworthie was granted land for
rabbit farming by Baldwin de Redvers, Earl of Devon. Many years later in
1551, the warren was leased to William Woollcombe. The warren appears to have
remained in constant use until the first half of the 20th century.
This pillow mound survives as a 21m long, 5.7m wide and 0.7m high, flat-
topped, rectangular shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 3m wide
and 0.3m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction.
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: 24235
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 431
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE240, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
National Archaeological Record, SX56SE66,
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