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Two stone circles known as The Grey Wethers, three round cairns, two ring cairns and an oval enclosure in Great Stannon Newtake

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Two stone circles known as The Grey Wethers, three round cairns, two ring cairns and an oval enclosure in Great Stannon Newtake

List entry Number: 1018707

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Dartmoor Forest

National Park: DARTMOOR

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 19-Jan-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Mar-1999

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 28680

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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 an 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. Stone circles, or circular arrangements of upright stones, were set into the ground and acted as ceremonial and funerary monuments during the later Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (c.2400-700 BC). On Dartmoor they are often found in association with stone alignments and burial monuments such as cairns and cists. The circles may be single or enclose further circles; they may occur as isolated examples or in groups. The 26 examples on Dartmoor form one of the most dense concentrations of monuments of this type in the country. Due to their relative rarity (with a national population of only some 200 examples) and longevity as a monument type, all stone circles are considered to be nationally important.

A number of further ritual monuments survive within close proximity to The Grey Wethers stone circles. The round cairns, ring cairns and possible henge together provide evidence for an important ritual area in this part of Bronze Age Dartmoor. The location of this area at the head of three rivers may indicate that this concentration of ritual monuments had more than just local significance.

History

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

Details

The monument, which falls into six areas, includes two stone circles, three round cairns, two ring cairns and an oval enclosure lying at the head of three separate rivers within Great Stannon Newtake. The stone circles known collectively as The Grey Wethers, lie adjacent to each other and are very similar in size and character. The northern circle measures 31.5m in diameter and is denoted by 20 upright granite slabs with an average height of 1.1m. The diameter of the southern circle is 33m and includes 29 standing stones varying in height between 1m and 1.4m. Excavations carried out by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee towards the end of the 19th century revealed a layer of charcoal covering the original ground surface. A shallow trench visible leading through the southern circle may be the result of this excavation. A round cairn lying 280m east of the stone circles was also investigated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, whose work revealed a central pit filled with charcoal. This cairn now survives as a 5.3m diameter and 0.7m high stony mound. Lying north east of this cairn are two further mounds. The largest of these may be a ring cairn which survives as a 15m diameter and 0.6m high, flat topped mound with an outer edge of stones which represents the remnant of a ring bank. Four metres to the north east of this cairn is another mound which measures 4.5m in diameter and 0.7m high. A slight hollow in the centre of this cairn is probably the result of robbing or partial early excavation. Lying 230m SSE of The Grey Wethers is an oval enclosure defined by a 4.5m wide and 1.2m high rubble bank surrounding an internal area measuring 53.5m east to west by 39m north to south. An 8.3m wide entrance gap on the eastern side is flanked on each side by a stony mound. The considerable size of the bank combined with its proximity to a number of ritual monuments strongly supports the contention that this enclosure is much more likely to have been used for ritual than domestic purposes and it has consequently been identified as a henge. A cairn lying south east of the enclosure measures 9m in diameter, stands up to 0.6m high and is surrounded by a clearly defined kerb. To the SSE of this cairn is a sub circular enclosure measuring 22.7m long by 20.1m wide surrounded by a 2.8m wide and 0.5m high rubble bank. An entrance on the western side measures 1.1m wide and in the centre is a substantial recumbent stone which may have once stood upright. This enclosure has been identified as a ring 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 165-6
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 165-6
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Possible Henge At Teignhead, , Vol. 42, (1984), 103-6
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE103, (1995)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE104, (1995)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE126,

National Grid Reference: SX 63877 83139, SX 64005 82883, SX 64080 82830, SX 64159 83161, SX 64166 82654, SX 64317 83284

Map

Map
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2017 at 11:42:48.

End of official listing