Prehistoric settlements, fields and enclosures within the Shapley Common coaxial field system, 770m south of Challacombe Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020461

Date first listed: 03-Jul-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-2001


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric settlements, fields and enclosures within the Shapley Common coaxial field system, 770m south of Challacombe Cross
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Teignbridge (District Authority)

Parish: North Bovey

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 69376 81924, SX 69426 82088, SX 69442 82402, SX 69582 82214


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 settlements, fields and enclosures within the Shapley Common coaxial field system, 770m south of Challacombe Cross survive very well and contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the exploitation of this area during the prehistoric period. In particular, the juxtaposition of settlements with enclosures and those with fields provides evidence for the different types of farming activity, in operation during this period.


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


The monument, which falls into four separate area of protection, includes three prehistoric settlements together with associated enclosures and fields situated within the upper reaches of the East Bovey Head valley. The northern settlement includes three substantial stone hut circles sitting within a group of small rectangular fields connected to a parallel reave of the Shapley Common coaxial field system. The field walls survive as 2m wide and 0.8m high orthostatic walls and their relationship to the parallel reave indicates that they were added some time after the construction of the coaxial fields. The stone hut circles are all of double orthostatic construction with walls standing over 1m high and are butted by the associated field walls. This relationship indicates that the stone hut circles also predate the small rectangular fields. The enclosed settlements lie to the south and include three separate enclosures each containing a number of stone hut circles. The northern enclosure is divided in two by a later partition and contains at least seven stone hut circles, most of which are abutted to the enclosure wall. A length of reave leading west from the enclosure forms part of the coaxial field system in this area and strongly suggests that the enclosure is earlier in date than the field system. The central, irregular shaped enclosure also contains seven stone hut circles, four of which are attached to the earlier enclosure wall. One of the huts is abutted by the enclosure walling suggesting that it is earlier and indicates that the settlement may have developed over time. The final enclosure is the southernmost within the group and survives as a 1m wide and 0.6m high orthostatic wall curving southward from a stone hut circle with an internal diameter of 5.5m.

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


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

Legacy System number: 22390

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 160
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2000)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2000)

End of official listing