Pillow mound 530m north east of Merrivale Bridge, forming part of Merrivale Warren
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014654
Date first listed: 20-May-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Devon (District Authority)
Parish: Dartmoor Forest
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 55489 75338
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 530m north east of Merrivale Bridge forms part of the nationally important Merrivale Warren and contains information relating to economy and land use as well as the exploitation of rabbits in the Walkham valley.
This monument includes a pillow mound situated on the gentle west facing slope
of Over Tor overlooking the valley of the River Walkham. This mound forms 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, including this one, lie
within the Merrivale Newtake, but some lie on open moorland just outside the
This pillow mound survives as an 8m long, 4.8m wide and 1.4m high, flat
topped, oval shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 1.5m wide and
0.5m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. A 2m
square and 0.3m deep hollow in the north eastern side of the mound may be the
result of an early part excavation by an antiquarian who mistook the mound for
a long cairn.
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: 24209
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,
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