A length of the Great Western Reave, a prehistoric settlement, three cairns and two field systems on Walkhampton Common


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of A length of the Great Western Reave, a prehistoric settlement, three cairns and two field systems on Walkhampton Common
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Devon (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SX 55677 70739, SX 56380 72238

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. Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are some of the major features of the Dartmoor landscape. The reaves are part of an extensive system of prehistoric land division introduced during the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They consist of simple linear stone banks used to mark out discrete territories, some of which are tens of kilometres in extent. The systems are defined by parallel, contour and watershed reaves, dividing the lower land from the grazing zones of the higher moor and defining the watersheds of adjacent river systems. Occupation sites and funerary or ceremonial monuments are often incorporated in, or associated with, reave complexes. Their longevity and their relationship with other monument types provide important information on the diversity of social organisation, land divisions and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They show considerable longevity as a monument type, sometimes surviving as fossilised examples in medieval field plans. They are an important element in the existing landscape and, as such, a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The length of the Great Western Reave, the prehistoric settlement, three cairns and two field systems on Walkhampton Common survive well and together contain information relating to the construction, use and development of the longest known territorial reave on Dartmoor. The adjacent field systems are probably earlier than the reave and therefore contain evidence relating to the exploitation of this area in the time before the more substantial Bronze Age territories were established.


The monument, which falls into two areas of protection, includes a length of the Great Western Reave, a prehistoric settlement, three cairns, two field systems and a boundary stone on Walkhampton Common. The Great Western Reave measures over 10km long and is the longest known prehistoric land division boundary on Dartmoor. A 2.58km length of the reave survives within the monument. The first part leads from NGR SX55217030 to SX56157163 and the second part leads from NGR SX56207173 to SX56567251. Along its length, the width of the reave varies between 2.5m and 4m, whilst its height varies between 0.2m and 0.7m. Where the core of the reave is visible, it is of rubble bank construction. A second reave leads off at right angles at NGR SX55777088 and this one measures 500m long by 1.5m wide and 0.5m high. The prehistoric settlement lies adjacent to the Great Western Reave at NGR SX56007126 and includes at least six stone hut circles and two enclosures. The stone hut circles survive as banks each surrounding a circular or oval internal area which varies between 2.54 sq m and 7.5 sq m, with the average being 5.4 sq m. The heights of the surrounding walls vary between 0.3m and 0.5m, with the average being 0.4m. One of the huts has a visible doorway, all six are butted to the Great Western Reave and two are in turn butted by enclosure walling. These relationships indicate that the reave was constructed first, followed by the stone hut circles and finally the enclosures. Towards the south western end of the Great Western Reave are two field systems and three cairns. The first, centred at NGR SX55377057, includes two substantial rubble banks measuring up to 8m wide and 1.4m high. These banks are more substantial than the field boundaries associated with Bronze Age settlements on the Moor and it is considered likely that they are of Neolithic or Early Bronze Age date. Their position midway between two stone alignments and more significantly the addition of a later funerary cairn to the top of one boundary is very suggestive of an early origin. The cairn on top of the field boundary measures 8m in diameter and stands up to 1.4m high. A slight hollow in the centre of the mound suggests partial early excavation or robbing. A second cairn lying south of the field system measures 9.8m long by 5m wide and stands up to 0.7m high. This too has been investigated in the past. The second field system is similar in character to the first and is centred at NGR SX55227033. This field system includes two main boundaries, the largest of which measures 64m long, up to 5m wide and 0.3m high. This field system may also predate the nearby Great Western Reave. A nearby cairn measures 5.8m in diameter and stands up to 0.5m high. Two features of historic date survive within the monument. The first is a boundary stone of unknown date and function which stands in the centre of the prehistoric settlement. This stone measures 1.3m high by up to 0.84m wide and tapers to a point at the top. The second historic feature is a short length of leat which cuts through the Great Western Reave at NGR SX56347212. Both features are included in the scheduling.

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, (1994), 85
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE279, (1986)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2000)
Title: SX 57 SE Source Date: 1982 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:10000


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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