Part of a coaxial field system, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Buttern Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Part of a coaxial field system, prehistoric settlements and cairns on Buttern Hill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Oct-2019 at 17:36:49.


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 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:
Legacy System:


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

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