Prehistoric fields, settlements and cairn south east of Venford Reservoir forming part of the Dartmeet coaxial field system

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020092

Date first listed: 03-Feb-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-2001

Map

Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric fields, settlements and cairn south east of Venford Reservoir forming part of the Dartmeet coaxial field system
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Holne

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 68878 70239

Summary

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 prehistoric fields, settlements and cairn south east of Venford Reservoir forming part of the Dartmeet coaxial field system survive well and form part of the best preserved coaxial field system on Dartmoor. The Dartmeet coaxial field system extends over 3000ha and enough of it survives to enable a full understanding of the widespread character and impact of Bronze Age farming techniques on the moorland landscape. The later historic field system which overlies many of the earlier coaxial fields provides additional contrasting information concerning the character of historic farming activity and this, together with the considerable evidence for prospecting and mining, represents an important source of archaeological data.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a group of coaxial fields, associated stone hut circles, a cairn, an area of historic fields and tinwork earthworks situated on Holne Moor overlooking the valley of the River Dart. The coaxial fields form part of the Dartmeet coaxial field system and survive as rubble banks which in places have been modified during the construction of later historic fields. There are at least nine parallel reaves within the monument, from which several other boundaries lead, creating a number of smaller fields and enclosures. The parallel reaves are aligned north east to south west and many abut the terminal reave which denotes the western edge of the field system. Within the field system there are at least nine stone hut circles, which survive as rubble or orthostatic walls each surrounding a circular internal area measuring between 3.5m and 8m in diameter. The surrounding walls measure up to 0.8m high; two of the huts have visible doorways and one a hook- shaped porch. A cairn situated within the field system at NGR SX68847032 survives as a 9.7m diameter flat-topped mound standing up to 0.8m high. A small hollow in the centre of the cairn suggests that it has been partially excavated or robbed. Historic fields denoted by ditched boundary banks survive over much of the monument and in places have reused earlier prehistoric walls. Another activity of historic date for which abundant archaeological remains survive is mineral prospecting and extraction. In several places, clusters of small rectangular pits together with narrow trenches formed during the search for tin are visible. The lodes encountered were exploited using opencast quarries called openworks, which survive as narrow steep sided gulleys cutting into the hillside. Three disused lengths of leat lead through the monument. The northern leat is known as the Holne Moor Leat or Hamlyn's Leat and was cut in the early part of the 19th century to supply water for textile mills in Buckfastleigh. The southern leat is known as the Wheal Emma Leat and was constructed in 1859 to carry water from the upper Swincombe River to supplement the River Mardle. The additional water was required by the Wheal Emma copper mine near Buckfastleigh. Within the monument the leat survives as a 2.5m wide and 0.7m deep channel crossed at one point by a clapper bridge. The third length of leat is a short length of channel lying parallel to the Holne Gutter Leat and represents an earlier route taken by this leat which still remains in use. The active leats leading through the monument and the metal fence denoting the edge of the Venford Reservoir forestry plantation are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 22370

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, , Vol. 4, (1993), 176
Other
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2000)
Title: Holne Moor Survey Source Date: 1997 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1:2500 plan

End of official listing