Two stone circles known as The Grey Wethers, three round cairns, two ring cairns and an oval enclosure in Great Stannon Newtake
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1018707.pdf
The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.
This copy shows the entry on 22-Nov-2019 at 23:22:11.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Devon (District Authority)
- Dartmoor Forest
- National Park:
- National Grid Reference:
- SX 63877 83139, SX 64005 82883, SX 64080 82830, SX 64159 83161, SX 64166 82654, SX 64317 83284
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.
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
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
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.
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), 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
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE103, (1995)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE104, (1995)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE126,
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