Two pillow mounds and a small area of tin streamwork earthworks 770m north of Blackaton Cross, forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014663

Date first listed: 07-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Two pillow mounds and a small area of tin streamwork earthworks 770m north of Blackaton Cross, forming part of Trowlesworthy Warren
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Shaugh Prior

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 56995 63863


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 two pillow mounds 770m north of Blackaton Cross form part of the nationally important Trowlesworthy Warren and contain 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. The adaptation of earlier spoil dumps from a tin streamwork provides useful stratigraphical information relating to these two activities.


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


This monument includes two pillow mounds situated amongst earlier tin streamworking earthworks within the Blacka Brook valley bottom. These mounds form 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 western pillow mound survives as a 29.4m long, 6.8m wide and 1.2m high, flat-topped, oblong shaped mound of soil and stone surrounded by the 0.8m wide and 0.3m deep ditch from which material was quarried during its construction. The eastern mound is similar in character and measures 30.7m long, 5m wide and stands up to 0.9m high. The quarry ditch surrounding the mound measures 1.3m wide by 0.4m deep. A 15m long, 0.8m wide and 0.2m deep narrow gully leading WSW from the western lower side of the ditch and cutting through streamwork earthworks may represent an animal run in which rabbits and vermin could have been trapped. Both pillow mounds lie on top of earlier tin alluvial streamworking earthworks and therefore are clearly more recent than the last phase of tin exploitation in this part of the Blacka Brook. The streamworking earthworks adjacent to the monument are not included within the scheduling, but those below the mound, ditch and gully are included, together with those lying in the area between the mounds. This area is included because it contains further information relating to rabbit farming in this part of the Upper Plym valley. 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: 24248

Legacy System: RSM


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)
Gerrard, G.A.M., The Early Cornish Tin Industry: An Arch. & Historical Survey, 1986, Unpubl. PhD thesis, St David's, Wales
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX56SE66,
PWDRO/72/1034, (1625)

End of official listing