Warren at Sheeps Tor, 520m north of Chubstone Cottage


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021391

Date first listed: 18-Feb-2011


Ordnance survey map of Warren at Sheeps Tor, 520m north of Chubstone Cottage
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Sheepstor

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 56187 68143, SX 56232 68248, SX 56279 68355, SX 56286 68514, SX 56336 68208, SX 56365 68073, SX 56429 68013, SX 56529 67990, SX 56555 68202, SX 56597 68138, SX 56647 68136


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 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. Warrens are areas of land set aside for the breeding and management of rabbits or hares. They usually include a series of purpose-built breeding places, known as pillow mounds and buries, vermin traps and enclosures designed to contain and protect the animals, and living quarters for the warrener who kept charge of the warren. Pillow mounds are low oblong-shaped mounds of soil and/or stones in which the animals lived. They are usually between 15m and 40m long and between 5m and 10m wide. Most have a ditch around at least three sides to facilitate drainage. Inside are a series of narrow interconnecting trenches. These were excavated and covered with stone or turf before the mound was constructed. Vermin traps of various kinds are found within most warrens. These include a small stone-lined passage into which the predator was funnelled by a series of ditches or walls. Over 100 vermin traps have been recorded on the Moor, with the majority lying in the Plym Valley. Warren boundaries were often defined by a combination of natural features such as rivers. Within the warrens themselves smaller enclosed areas defined by a ditch and bank are sometimes found, and some of these may have been specialised breeding areas. Many of the warrens on the Moor contain a house in which the warrener lived. Most of the surviving warren earthworks probably date to between the 17th century and the later 19th century, with some continuing in use into the early 20th century. At least 22 warrens are known to exist on the Moor and together they contribute to our understanding of the medieval and post-medieval exploitation of the area. All well-preserved warrens are considered worthy of protection.

The warren at Sheeps Tor survives well and will contain important archaeological and environmental information concerning rabbit farming on Dartmoor during the early post-medieval period. The warren is situated close to the densest concentration of pillow mounds on the moor and provides a crucial contrast to its neighbours in the adjacent Plym Valley.


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


The monument, which falls into eleven areas of protection, includes at least eleven pillow mounds, three vermin traps and a warreners' house together forming a warren on the upper slopes of Sheeps Tor. The pillow mounds survive as rectangular mounds together with ditches from which material was quarried during their construction. The mounds vary between 7m and 19m long, with the average being 11.5m and they stand between 1m and 1.6m high. Two of the vermin traps survive as adjacent V shaped lengths of drystone wall together forming X shaped traps. The trapping areas survive between the two lengths of wall. The third trap at NGR SX56556820 includes two lengths of 3.7m long drystone wall forming a V shaped trap. Vermin approaching their quarry tend to seek a route that provides visual cover and the purpose of a trap was to funnel predators along ditches or beside walls to a central point where they could be trapped. Lying within the southern part of the warren at NGR SX56426801 is an irregular shaped drystone built enclosure containing a small rectangular building and at least four internal divisions. This structure has been identified as the warreners' house and although no documentary evidence is currently known to support this identification, its character and position strongly supports this interpretation. The warreners' house survives as a drystone building denoted by walls standing up to 1.4m high and its interior is filled with rubble. No documentary information is currently known concerning the warren at Sheeps Tor, although the presence of vermin traps suggests an early origin. The boundary stone is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath this feature 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.


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

Legacy System number: 36019

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Haynes, R G, 'Post Medieval Archaeology' in Vermin Traps and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor, , Vol. 4, (1970), 161-162
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE207, (1991)
Undated manuscript, Haynes, R G, Sheepstor,

End of official listing