Prehistoric and medieval settlements and their field systems at Hound Tor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Teignbridge (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SX 74423 78709

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the extensive south-west Peninsula sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, an area climatically, culturally and physically distinct from the rest of England. It includes varying terrains, from the granite uplands, through rolling dissected plateaux to fertile clay lowlands in the east. While nucleated settlements are present, notably in the Devon Lowlands and throughout the South Hams, many originated as small towns, and a high proportion may be of later date. Excluding only the moorland masses, the sub-Province is characterised by medium and high densities of dispersed settlements; indeed, some of the former industrial areas had densities as high as any in the country. The Dartmoor local region is a high, undulating moorland scenically and climatically distinct. The inner core, now treeless, is the ancient `Forest of Dartmoor', while an outer ring of commons provides grazing for a number of communities outside the Forest. Almost devoid of nucleated settlement, the region has extremely low densities of dispersed settlement. Scattered farmsteads and hamlets with irregular enclosed fields appear in peripheral valleys, while above the present head-dyke are numerous traces of abandoned settlements and fields.

In addition to the considerable evidence relating to the exploitation of this area during the medieval period, further information concerning earlier prehistoric settlement and land division survives. The prehistoric settlement has seen some damage as a result of disturbance during later periods, but despite this, enough remains to illustrate the character of the earliest visible settlements and fields. Although no longer permanently settled during the post medieval period, the monument continued to be intensively used and a number of cairnfields, shelters and extensive areas of ridge and furrow demonstrate the continuing agricultural role of this diverse archaeological landscape.


The monument includes a partly enclosed stone hut circle settlement, associated field system, two medieval settlements and their fields together with post medieval cairnfields, ridge and furrow and shelters situated on the upper slopes of Hound Tor overlooking the valley of the Becka Brook. The partly enclosed stone hut circle settlement includes at least eight huts and two enclosures. Lying south of the settlement is an extensive field system including three major fields and an enclosure. The medieval hamlet of Houndtor, which is in the Care of the Secretary of State, includes four longhouses, one of which was converted into a barn towards the end of the settlement's life. Other buildings include three corn driers and four barns. The settlement was excavated during the 1960s and this work confirmed that it was abandoned in the mid-14th century. The fields surrounding the settlement are irregular in shape and appear to be the result of several phases of unorganised expansion and contraction. The medieval farmstead lies to the NNW of the hamlet and survives as a single longhouse, together with a barn and corn drier. An earlier stone hut circle was partly demolished to make room for the barn, whilst another hut appears to have been adapted and reused as an ancillary building. A number of irregular shaped fields lie in close proximity to the farmstead and many of these contain lynchets. After the settlements were abandoned in the mid-14th century the fields may have continued to be cultivated. Certainly in the post-medieval period continued interest in the area is witnessed by extensive areas of narrow ridge and furrow. Several groups of clearance cairns may also date to this time. In the area south of Greator Rocks, three shelters built against medieval boundary banks are probably also of post medieval date. The area of Greator Rocks itself is totally excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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, (1991), 51
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 52
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 55
Newman, P, Probert, S, Riley, H, Houndtor Down, Manaton, Devon, (1994)
Newman, P, Probert, S, Riley, H, Houndtor Down, Manaton, Devon, (1994)
Newman, P, Probert, S, Riley, H, Houndtor Down, Manaton, Devon, (1994)
Beresford, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Three Deserted Medieval Settlements On Dartmoor: Etc, (1979), 98-158
Beresford, G, 'Medieval Archaeology' in Three Deserted Medieval Settlements On Dartmoor: Etc, (1979), 98-158
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1995)


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

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