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Coaxial fields, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Halshanger and Horridge Commons, forming part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system

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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Coaxial fields, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Halshanger and Horridge Commons, forming part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system

List entry Number: 1019603


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

County: Devon

District: Teignbridge

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Ashburton

County: Devon

District: Teignbridge

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Ilsington

National Park: DARTMOOR

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-Feb-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Feb-2001

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 28774

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. 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 coaxial fields, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Halshanger and Horridge Commons survive very well and are amongst the most visually impressive on the Moor. The field system in particular is well-preserved and will contain important archaeological and environmental information relating to occupation and use of this area during the prehistoric period. This monument represents the best preserved and most extensive part of the largest coaxial field system on Dartmoor. Evidence for continued use of the area in medieval and post-medieval times further enhances the significance of the monument.


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


The monument includes part of the prehistoric field system known as the Rippon Tor coaxial field system, seven broadly contemporary settlements, ten cairns, an historic field system, two shelters, a Latin cross roughout, two millstone roughouts, an animal pound and prospecting pits. The coaxial field system includes a large number of fields arranged on a single prevailing axis, subdivided by transverse boundaries. Within the area defined by the fields there are seven settlements. The largest of these survives as a scatter of at least 15 stone hut circles extending along the lower slopes of Halshanger Common. The stone hut circles survive as walls each surrounding an internal circular area whose diameters range from 4.3m up to 8.7m with the average being 6.9m. Eleven of the huts have visible doorways, one has a porch and another an annex. The second major settlement lies on the lower slopes of Horridge Common and includes 13 stone hut circles situated within a cluster of smaller fields which themselves form part of the coaxial field system. Eight of the hut circles within this settlement have visible doorways and two have courtyards. The remaining five settlements within the monument include small groupings of no more than three stone hut circles. There are ten cairns within the monument, half of which stand at or near the summit of Rippon Tor. The cairn crowning the summit of the tor measures 28m in diameter, stands up to 4m high and is largely composed of loose rocks. Some 20m to the south is a tor cairn consisting of a 7m diameter and 0.7m high stoney earthwork surrounding a small granite pillar. To the south east of this cairn is a 6m diameter mound standing up to 0.7m high. A hollow in the centre of this mound suggests partial early excavation or robbing. The remaining two cairns in this area are butted by a reave forming part of the Rippon Tor coaxial field system. The western cairn measures 20m in diameter and stands up to 3.5m high and the eastern one is 20m in diameter and 2.5m high. Three of the remaining cairns lie on the lower slopes of Horridge Common. At NGR SX75467512 there is a 10.2m diameter mound standing 0.8m high whilst a short distance to the east another example measures 10m in diameter and 0.8m high. The third cairn measures 26m in diameter and up to 0.8m high and, like the others, has hollows in its surface indicating previous investigation. The two remaining cairns within the monument are isolated. One lies at NGR SX74197455 and survives as a 5m diameter mound standing 0.7m high. The other is more unusual lying within a circular enclosure at NGR SX75807496. This cairn includes a 0.7m high platform with a diameter of 10.5m onto which a 1m high and 5.5m diameter mound has been placed. Archaeological remains of historic date also survive within the monument. Much of the lower slopes of Horridge Common are occupied by a series of field boundaries of historic date. Some of these boundaries reused earlier prehistoric ones, although in places fresh lengths have been added. Two small shelters lie within the monument. The first, at NGR SX74827470, survives as an open ended rectangular structure measuring 3m long by 1.5m wide, whilst the second one, at NGR SX76307540, is built within an earlier stone hut circle. The rocks forming Rippon Tor were quarried during the historic period and amongst the roughouts which remain are two millstones and a Latin cross whose western arm was broken during its manufacture. Immediately to the east of the summit is a sub-rectangular drystone structure with internal dimensions of 8.3m by 5m which may be an animal pound. Over the lower slopes there is a series of prospecting pits excavated by tinners in their search for tin. The results must have been disappointing as there no tinworks. All modern fences, track surfaces and the Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 47
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991)
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 40
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 42
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 45
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 47
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1999)

National Grid Reference: SX 75138 74818


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End of official listing