Part of a coaxial field system, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Buttern Hill
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1021215
Date first listed: 29-Jan-1975
Date of most recent amendment: 22-Dec-2003
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Devon (District Authority)
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 65314 88003
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 field system, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Buttern Hill survive comparatively well and will contain information relating to the use of this area during the prehistoric period. The field system is one of three major blocks of coaxial fields surviving on this part of Dartmoor and provides a useful contrast to its larger neighbours. Part of the Bradford leat leading through the field system contains important environmental and hydrological information.
The monument includes part of a coaxial field system, associated
prehistoric settlements and cairns situated on the east facing slope of
Buttern Hill. Other archaeological remains of historic date, including a
length of the Bradford Leat and an upright stone and earthwork, are also
included within the monument. The coaxial fields form part of the Buttern
Hill 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 eight parallel reaves within the monument, from which large
numbers of other boundaries lead creating a number of smaller fields and
enclosures. Within the field system there are at least 18 stone hut
circles, many of which are clustered together to form small settlements.
The stone hut circles survive as circular or oval rubble or orthostatic
walls surrounding an internal area which varies between 8.5 sq m and
78.5 sq m. Eight of the stone hut circles have visible doorways, one has a
porch and another has been the subject of a partial early excavation.
At least two cairns survive within the monument. The small round cairn at NGR SX65238849 is 4m in diameter whilst the much larger long cairn at NGR SX65528834 measures 14m long by 5.8m wide and stands up to 0.9m high. Two large fallen granite slabs at the southern end may represent the remnants of a chamber. Leading through the monument is the Bradford Leat which carried water to the tinwork at Bradford Pool (SX70009100) from Wildtor Well (SX63008758). This leat was the subject of a well documented court case during the latter part of the 17th century, following which the leat was abandoned. An upright stone at NGR SX65218852 is most likely to represent a post-medieval boundary marker. The stone measures 1.35m high and tapers to a relatively flat top. An earthwork at NGR SX65628848 survives as two parallel ditches with outer banks. The sides of the ditches are relatively steep suggesting an historic date, but this structure does not fit into any known category of site.
Modern fences and walling 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 34479
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 143
Costello, L M, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in The Bradford Pool Case, , Vol. 113, (1981), 59-77
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2002)
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