Pillow mound 860m SSE of Trowlesworthy Warren House, forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2019 at 02:06:25.
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 57023 63949
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 860m SSE of Trowlesworthy Warren House survives well, forming part of the nationally important Trowlesworthy 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 industrial 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 lying on the gentle west facing lower slope of Great
Trowlesworthy Tor overlooking the valley of the Blacka Brook. 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.
The pillow mound survives as a 35m long, 5.5m wide and 1.4m high, flat-topped,
rectangular shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the ditch from which
material was quarried during its construction. This ditch survives as a 2.4m
wide by 0.7m deep hollow along the southern side of the mound, and as a 1.5m
wide by 0.2m deep gully along the north.
The pillow mound lies on top of an earlier tin streamworking spoil dump and
therefore is clearly more recent than the last phase of tin exploitation in
this part of the Blacka Brook.
The streamwork earthworks adjacent to the monument are not included in the
scheduling because they are not currently considered to be of national
importance, but those below the mound and ditch are included.
The 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 431
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE240, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX56SE66,
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