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Medieval farmstead and field system, length of Willings Walls Reave, four round cairns, a ring cairn and pillow mounds at Willings Walls Warren

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: Medieval farmstead and field system, length of Willings Walls Reave, four round cairns, a ring cairn and pillow mounds at Willings Walls Warren

List entry Number: 1019083

Location

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

County: Devon

District: South Hams

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Shaugh Prior

National Park: DARTMOOR

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-Mar-1961

Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-2001

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 24231

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 provides direct evidence for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards. The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites, land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains, give significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time. The medieval farmstead and field system, length of Willings Walls Reave, four round cairns, the ring cairn and pillow mounds east of Spanish Lake represent a complex array of interrelated structures and features belonging to the three main periods of upland exploitation. The medieval field system is most extensive, but within the area is also the well-preserved evidence for prehistoric settlement, land division and funerary monuments together with a medieval farmstead and rectangular building. In the post-medieval period a series of pillow mounds forming part of a warren and a length of leat highlight the continued use of this area.

History

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

Details

This monument includes a medieval farmstead and field system, a length of Willings Walls Reave, four round cairns, a ring cairn, two stone hut circles, a post-medieval rectangular building, 13 pillow mounds and a length of Phillips Leat all situated within Willings Walls Warren. The medieval field system forms the largest part of the monument and this lies on a gentle west facing slope overlooking Spanish Lake. Extending beyond the field system is the Willings Walls Reave which follows the contour around to the Hentor Brook. Within this monument archaeological evidence relating to three major periods of activity survive. The Bronze Age archaeology includes the ring cairn, contour reave, four small round cairns and two stone hut circles. The farmstead and its associated field system are of medieval date, whilst the pillow mounds associated gullies, rectangular building and leats are post- medieval. The earliest surviving component of the monument is the ring cairn which lies adjacent to and partly under the Willings Walls Reave. The cairn is internally kerbed and survives as a 1m wide bank standing up to 0.2m high surrounding a 41m diameter internal area. At four places around the inner edge of the bank are clusters of irregular boulders and these represent the remains of an internal kerb. The Willings Walls Reave passes through the ring cairn and significantly changes direction within its circuit. It has been suggested that the reave builders used the cairn as a landmark when laying out their new boundary. If so this would certainly mean that the cairn was earlier than the reave and may have been an earlier territorial marker which was confirmed by the construction of the reave. Part of the Willings Walls contour reave lies within this monument and its function seems to have been to separate the higher moorlands from the grazing lands on the lower slopes. The reave, named by Fleming as the Cholwichtown Reave, is part of the same land division boundary and therefore although named separately this single contour reave once extended (except where natural features were followed) between Eylesbarrow and Rook Reaves which form the edges of the prehistoric territory named Plym by Fleming. Thus, together the Willings Walls and Cholwichtown Reaves effectively split the Plym territory into two parts. Only a relatively short length of the reave lies within the monument and it can be traced from SX58426552 on the Hentor Brook to SX58246441 at Spanish Lake Head where it disappears below deep peat. Within this monument the reave survives as a 2m wide rubble bank standing up to 0.8m high. Two gaps in the reave may represent the site of original entrances. The first at SX58236465 survives as a 2m wide gap denoted on the north by a slight westward turn in the reave and on the south by a large orthostat. The second possible entrance lies at SX58206494 close to two stone hut circles. This survives as a 3m wide gap and is thought to be original because of its sheltered position, proximity to the huts and an inturned reave terminal on the northern side. At SX58276531 a marked kink in the reave may indicate the position where two separate gangs of builders working from opposite ends met. At SX58306535 a 5m diameter and 0.8m high cairn sits on top of the reave, whilst at SX58276535 another lies immediately adjacent and to the west of the reave. This cairn consists of a mound 9m in diameter and up to 0.5m high. It contains a central cist which has one end slab and two side slabs in place. The southern end slab and capstone have been displaced and lean at an angle at the southern end. At SX58226520 is a further cairn which measures 4m in diameter and 0.6m high and lies immediately next to and east of the reave. The remaining cairn lies west of the reave and survives as a 4.4m diameter mound standing up to 0.6m high. The two stone hut circles lying adjacent to an entrance in the reave survive as banks of earth and stone surrounding an internal area. The larger hut lies west of the reave, its interior measures 6.5m in diameter and is defined by a 1.4m wide coursed and rubble bank standing up to 0.7m high. A gap in the wall faces south and may represent an original doorway. The second hut is attached to the eastern side of the reave and this survives as a 1.6m wide and 0.6m high rubble bank surrounding an oval interior measuring 4m long by 3.4m wide. The medieval farmstead is partly built upon the earlier Willings Walls Reave and includes at least one long house, outbuildings, a garden plot and farmyard. The longhouse survives as a rectangular three roomed building terraced into the hillslope. The lower room (the byre or shippon) is the largest and measures 6.1m long by 3.5m wide and is defined by a 1.1m wide drystone rubble wall standing up to 0.5m high. The two upper rooms, which represent the domestic accommodation, are subdivided by a 1m wide and 0.3m high rubble wall. The western room measures 4.8m long by 3.5m wide and the eastern room is 3.4m long by 2m wide. A gap midway along the southern wall of the long house represents the site of a doorway, which was probably originally one of two opposing entrances. The doorway through the northern wall is no longer visible at ground level and may have been blocked. A rubble wall 2m south of the long house and running parallel to it may represent an outshut or, as this wall extends beyond the eastern side of the building, it may be an earlier long house which has been slighted by the later one. To the south of this wall is a partially enclosed area measuring 5m long by 4.5m wide defined by a 1.2m wide and 0.4m high orthostatic wall. This structure may represent a farmyard or garden plot. To the north of the longhouse is a second enclosure which survives as a 10m long and 6.4m wide sub-rectangular area defined by a 1.2m wide and 0.4m high rubble wall which abuts the long house. The farmstead's field system covers approximately 16ha and lies on the lower slopes of Lee Moor overlooking Spanish Lake. The field system incorporates the earlier Willings Walls Reave which was partly refurbished at the time when the fields were laid out. At least six irregular shaped fields survive and most are denoted by rubble banks and associated ditches. The northernmost field is however defined to the north by a substantial gully with average dimensions of 4m wide by 1m deep and there is no accompanying bank. The western side of the field system appears to be defined by Spanish Lake. A small rectangular building attached to the western side of the Willings Walls Reave in close proximity to the stone hut circles may also be of medieval date. The interior of this building measures 6.3m long by 3.5m wide and is defined by a 1.3m wide and 0.3m high rubble bank. A gap in the western wall probably represents an original doorway. This structure may have been a transhumance hut or shelter used by warreners. Thirteen pillow mounds survive within this monument. Twelve of these lie close to Spanish Lake and the remaining one is adjacent to the Hentor Brook. All of the mounds form part of Willings Walls Warren, which includes at least 18 pillow mounds scattered along the hillside and in the valley bottoms between Spanish Lake and Hentor Brook. Willings Walls Warren, which covers an area of approximately 113ha, was established by at least 1807, when a lease granted by Lord Boringdon to Peter Nicholls of Sheepstor, a warrener, clearly indicates that it formed part of Hentor Warren. Hentor Farm is considered to have been used as the warren house. The reason why this part of Hentor Warren was given a separate name is unclear, but it may refer back to a time when it operated separately. Sometime shortly after 1815 the warren was taken over by and worked from nearby Ditsworthy and continued in use until the 1930s. All the pillow mounds survive as flat-topped, sub-rectangular mounds of soil and stone surrounded by the ditches from which material was quarried during their construction. The mounds adjacent to Spanish Lake measure between 9m and 34m long by 4m and 8.5m wide and stand between 0.2m and 1.3m high. Three of the quarry ditches survive only as buried features, but the remainder vary between 0.5m and 3m wide by 0.1m and 0.5m deep. Four of the pillow mounds lie close to narrow and shallow gullies which probably represent drainage ditches and/or animal runs in which vermin and rabbits were trapped. The remaining pillow mound lying next to Hentor Brook measures 23m long, 7m wide and 0.75m high, whilst the ditch from which material was quarried during its construction surrounds the mound and survives as a buried feature. A 430m length of Phillips Leat also survives within the monument and this cuts through the medieval field system. This leat cuts through Willings Walls Warren and was constructed by William Phillips in approximately 1835 to carry water to his newly leased clay works on Lee Moor. The leat took water from the River Plym, above Langcombe Brook, under Little Gnats Head, and during its working life was known as the Little Gnats Head Leat. Shortly after its construction an agreement was made that after use in the china clay works, the water was carried to serve Hemerdon tin mine. In 1877 the Bottle Hill Mine closed and the Lee Moor China Clay Works were able to use the former mine leat, which to this day remains operational and is known as the Lee Moor China Clay Leat. The Phillips Leat was therefore abandoned sometime around 1877. Within this monument the leat survives as a 430m long, 1m wide and 0.5m deep channel flanked on the downslope side by 2m wide and 0.4m high bank which was thrown up during its construction. This monument is in the care of the Secreatry 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Willings Walls Contour Reave And Connected Hut Circle Etc., (1991)
Brewer, D, A field guide to the boundary markers on and around Dartmoor, (1986), 52-4
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976), 107 345
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 128
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 164
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 44
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 261-4
Fleming, A, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society' in The Prehistoric Landscape Of Dartmoor Part 1: South Dartmoor, , Vol. 44, (1978), 117
Fleming, A, Collis, J, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Late Prehistoric Reave System Near Cholwich Town, Dartmoor, , Vol. 31, (1973), 4
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 66
Other
Darvill, T.C., Single Monument Class Description - Ring Cairns, 1989,
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE133, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE237, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56SE12, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56SE196,
Gerrard, S., English Heritage Book of Dartmoor, 1997, Forthcoming
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1995)
National Archaeological Record,
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE135,
Site 424, Central Excavation Unit, Plym Valley Survey,
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

National Grid Reference: SX 58181 64717

Map

Map
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End of official listing