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HER Number:MDV2380
Name:Dewerstone enclosure or hillfort

Summary

A poorly preserved stone-built double walled enclosure, the outer of two enclosures on Dewerstone Hill. Thought to represent the site of a Neolithic hilltop enclosure. The interior of the enclosure measures 220 metres long by 170 metres wide and is denoted by two parallel rubble walls separating the promontory from its surroundings. Secondary enclosure and associated stone hut circles recorded on separate records.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 538 639
Map Sheet:SX56SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishMeavy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishMEAVEY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX 56 SW 14
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56SW/11
  • Old SAM County Ref: 314
  • Old SAM Ref: 34436.01
  • Pastscape: 439553

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HILLFORT (Early Neolithic to Late Iron Age - 4000 BC to 42 AD (Between))

Full description

Pilkington-Rogers, C. W, 1932, The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities, 384-5, map (Article in Serial). SDV149513.

Pilkington-Rogers suggested, in his 1932 paper on the date of Dartmoor antiquities, that the ring of ancient camps (including the camp on Dewerstone) circling Dartmoor dated to the early Iron age. In making this suggestion Pilkington-Rogers was following Christopher Hawkes in assuming that all hillforts, with the exception of causewayed enclosures, dated to the early Iron age. The date of the Dartmoor camps being supported by finds of Iron age material from excavations at Cranbrook Castle and Holne Chase camp.


Fox, A., 1939, Unknown Title, 178 (Article in Serial). SDV251444.


Worth, R. H., 1943, The Prehistoric Pounds of Dartmoor, 277-8, fig 4 (Article in Serial). SDV320337.

Dewerstone hillfort. Defences: two dry stone walls, collapsed, 3 metres apart and each 3 metres wide. Marginal stones visible, no ditch. Entrance at the southern end, 1.829 metres wide, northern end 0.914 metres wide. Inside is a hut with enclosure attached, entrance on southern side. Hut diameter 7.62 metres. Probably contemporary.
The neck of the ridge on Dewerstone Hill is crossed by two parallel walls. These are ruined, but there is a clear space between them averaging nine feet in width. The walls were apparently about five feet thick and the original space between them was between twelve and thirteen feet. Their plan is convex to the north, and they bend round on the east and west to tie in with natural rock exposures on the steep slopes of the hill.
At point B, fig 4, there are the confused remains of some buildings within the walls. The only trace of earthwork is from M to N where the steep hillside has been scarped. There is nothing on Dartmoor comparable with this, except on the summit of Whittor (SX 57 NW 8).
The pound, 150 yards to the south is incomplete. To the south the wall ties in on the west side with the rock exposure. On the east side it probably ran from O to P and tied in similarly. In shape it is approximately rectangular with rounded angles and probably covered an area of 1.14 acres. Length 280 feet, breadth 175 feet. There is one hut circle, which is involved in the pound wall, and has a width of about 4 feet.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK, 3238 (Aerial Photograph). SDV71055.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1190, 3237-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV340833.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952, SX56SW14 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV251433.

Encampment, Bronze age. Promontory fort containing hut circle and pound.
Dewerstone Promontory Fort. Defences; two drystone walls, collapsed. No ditch. Inside is a hut with enclosure attached, entrance on south side. Hut diameter 25 feet. Probably contemporary (Fox, A. April 1951).


Fox, A., 1964, South West England: 3,500BC-AD600, 92, 123, 257 (Monograph). SDV135818.

Worth suggested that the Dartmoor pounds, as a monument class, date to the early Bronze age based excavations at Broadun, Foales Arrishes, Grimspound, Legis Tor, Merrivale, Riders Rings, Watern Oke, Whittor and Yes Tor Bottom. Worth considered the pound on Dewerstone to be unusual in two respects; that the walls were stone built and not earthwork and in the fact that the pound lies inside a double outer defensive wall. The only comparable site on Dartmoor was considered to be the double walled enclosure on Whittor.
In May 1960 a middle Bronze age pottery cup (SX 56 SW 19) was found some 300 yards north-east of the Dewerstone enclosure.


Pettit, P., 1974, Prehistoric Dartmoor, 55-6, 178-9 (Monograph). SDV231149.

Pettit, in his 1974 book on Prehistoric Dartmoor, commented that although Dewerstone has been attributed to the Iron Age there is no evidence for occupation in that period. Pettit suggested that the pound dates to the Bronze Age and that the two outer walls were built across the promontory during the Iron Age.


National Monuments Record, 1979, SF1520, 146-150 (Aerial Photograph). SDV149521.


Silvester, R. J., 1979, The Relationship of First Millennium Settlement to the Upland Areas of the South West, 188-189, figs 1, 5 (Article in Serial). SDV177352.

Silvester prefers to call Dewerstone site a "tor enclosure". Hut circle and pound can be traced within enclosure, but these may not be contemporary. Siting of enclosures on higher moors, and the style of construction suggest a date earlier than Iron Age: 2nd or even 3rd millennium suggested.


Todd, M., 1980 - 1989, The Southwest to AD1000, 76-77 (Monograph). SDV139884.

Todd echoed Silvester's view, suggesting in 1987 that Whittor, Dewerstone and Stowe's Pound fall outside the categories of 'hillfort', 'pound' or 'enclosed settlement' and distinguishes these three sites in terms of their situation on prominent granite outcrops and in their use of the natural rock formations in the enclosure walls. Dating evidence is slight due to the lack of excavation information.


National Trust, 1984, Goodameavy, Devon, 10 (Report - Survey). SDV337035.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Visible on the aerial photographs and recorded on map overlay (the transcription shows seven hut circles within the enclosure (Griffiths, F. M.). The rocks on the summit have the appearance of a small enclosure. The south-east end of the double wall appears to have descended to the stream below.


Robinson, R. + Griffith, F. M., 1986, Dewerstone enclosure, Visited 6/5/1986 (Worksheet). SDV251440.

Condition of the site is stable as described by previous authors. Hut circles shown by the Royal Commission for the Historic Monuments of England were not identifiable. The 'ramparts' are certainly curious, but does that make it Neolithic (?) the most striking feature is the smallness of the rampart stones: it could never have been a wall, more a stone unstructured bank.


Griffiths, F. M., 1989, DAP/LR, 14-15 (Aerial Photograph). SDV251447.


Griffith, F. M., 1989, DAP/LS, 1-4 (Aerial Photograph). SDV267566.

14-15


Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 152994, 8/1/2001 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

Prehistoric enclosure on Dewerstone Hill. Tor enclosure consisting of two parallel rubble banks cutting off a level promontory at Dewerstone Hill. The gap between the walls is around 1 metre, although it was probably originally greater. The entrance is 12 metres by 2 metres and the adjacent walls are up to 0.7 metres high. The entrance is severely waterlogged and there is active erosion within this area. Covered with bracken and grass.


Butler, J., 1994, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West, 98, Map 48.2 (Monograph). SDV137656.


Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1994, The Dewerstone, Meavy, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV359804.

Analytical earthwork survey of the two enclosures on the summit of Dewerstone Hill. The outer enclosure is potentially Neolithic, while the inner is probably of Bronze Age date. The stone-built double wall of the outer enclosure is poorly preserved with an average height of 0.7 metres and given its loose composition is unlikely to have stood higher than 1.5 metres. The inner and outer walls now have average widths of 4 metres and 3.4 metres respectively.


Oswald, A., 1996, Industry and Enclosure in the Neolithic (Report - non-specific). SDV345741.


Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M., 2011, In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts (Article in Serial). SDV361500.


Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M., 2011, In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts (Article in Serial). SDV361500.


Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Part of the enclosure's earthworks depicted on the modern mapping.


Historic England, 2016, National Heritage List for England, Accessed 07/10/2016 (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

The prehistoric enclosures on Dewerstone Hill, 500m south east of Dewerstone Cottage survive well and will contain information relating to the use of this strategic location throughout later prehistory. The larger enclosure is considered to be of Neolithic date and very few examples of this type of site are thought to survive in South West England.
The monument includes two enclosures and associated stone hut circles situated on the summit of a steep sided promontory overlooking the confluence of the rivers Meavy and Plym. The interior of the largest enclosure measures 220m long by 170m wide and is denoted by two parallel rubble walls separating the promontory from its surroundings. These walls consist largely of loose rubble, measure 4m wide and stand up to 0.7m high. The gap between the two walls is around 1m, although this was probably originally greater. A gap cutting through the walls represents the site of an original stone faced entrance passage, which now measures 12m long by 2m wide. There are no traces of walling adjacent to the steep slopes around the southern part of the monument. It is considered that this structure represents the site of a Neolithic hilltop enclosure. (See designation record for full details).
Map object based on this source.


National Monument Record, 2016, Pastscape (Website). SDV359354.

The date of the pound and double, outer walls on Dewerstone has been the subject of changing interpretations over the last sixty years (citing Field Investigators Comments, Rec 2, KMF, 10-NOV-1994).
(SX 5395 6406) In November 1994, Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England carried out an analytical earthwork survey of the two enclosures on the summit of Dewerstone Hill, as part of the project to record Enclosure and Industry in the Neolithic Period. The outer enclosure is potentially Neolithic, while the inner is probably of Bronze Age date and has therefore been assigned a new National Monuments Record number (SX 56 SW 32).
The stone-built double wall of the outer enclosure is poorly preserved with an average height of 0.7 metres, and given its loose composition is unlikely to have stood higher than 1.5 metres. The inner and outer walls now have average widths of 4.0 metres and 3.4 metres respectively. Five probable or possible entrances through the double wall were identified; the existence of so many may support the hypothesis that the enclosure is of Neolithic date. Contrary to Worth (1943), the 'confused remains of buildings' probably result from heavier than average robbing (see SX 56 SW 33), and even if structural are unlikely to be contemporary. In addition, the earthwork resulting from the naturally steep slope (D on plan) may be an incline associated with later quarrying (SX 56 SW 34) rather than part of the enclosure. The interpretation based on the interpretation of aerial photographs (Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project, 1985) should be regarded as unreliable; there is no evidence that the south-eastern end of the double wall ever continued as far as the River Plym.
No firm evidence as to the date of the enclosure was revealed by the survey, and the form of the double wall remains difficult to parallel; those sites mentioned by previous sources all differ in various ways. For further details, see Royal Commission of the Historical Monuments of England Level 3 client report and earthwork plan at 1:1000 scale, held in archive (citing Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, Industry and Enclosure in the Neolithic Project: Dewerstone Hill Survey).

Sources / Further Reading

  • Monograph: Fox, A.. 1964. South West England: 3,500BC-AD600. South West England: 3,500BC-AD600. A5 Hardback. 92, 123, 257.
  • Monograph: Butler, J.. 1994. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West. Three. Paperback Volume. 98, Map 48.2.
  • Monograph: Todd, M.. 1980 - 1989. The Southwest to AD1000. The Southwest to AD1000. Unknown. 76-77.
  • Article in Serial: Pilkington-Rogers, C. W. 1932. The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 64. A5 Hardback. 384-5, map.
  • Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1979. SF1520. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 146-150.
  • Article in Serial: Silvester, R. J.. 1979. The Relationship of First Millennium Settlement to the Upland Areas of the South West. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 37. Paperback Volume. 188-189, figs 1, 5.
  • Monograph: Pettit, P.. 1974. Prehistoric Dartmoor. Prehistoric Dartmoor. 55-6, 178-9.
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952. SX56SW14. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
  • Worksheet: Robinson, R. + Griffith, F. M.. 1986. Dewerstone enclosure. Worksheet. Unknown. Visited 6/5/1986.
  • Article in Serial: Fox, A.. 1939. Unknown Title. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 71. Unknown. 178.
  • Aerial Photograph: Griffiths, F. M.. 1989. DAP/LR. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 14-15.
  • Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1989. DAP/LS. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 1-4.
  • Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 152994, 8/1/2001.
  • Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
  • Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1943. The Prehistoric Pounds of Dartmoor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 75. A5 Hardback. 277-8, fig 4.
  • Report - Survey: National Trust. 1984. Goodameavy, Devon. National Trust Archaeological Survey Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 10.
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1190. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3237-8.
  • Report - non-specific: Oswald, A.. 1996. Industry and Enclosure in the Neolithic. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
  • National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. Accessed 07/10/2016.
  • Website: National Monument Record. 2016. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website.
  • Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1994. The Dewerstone, Meavy, Devon. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. Digital.
  • Article in Serial: Griffith, F. M. + Wilkes, E. M.. 2011. In the Footsteps of Pioneering Women; Some Recent Work on Devon Hillforts. British Archaeological Reports. 548. Paperback Volume.
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3238.

Associated Monuments

MDV19417Related to: Bronze Age Pottery Cup found at Dewerstone Rock. Meavy (Find Spot)
MDV2381Related to: Dewerstone hill pound (Monument)
MDV63617Related to: Hut circle in enclosure on Dewerstone Hill (Monument)
MDV63618Related to: Hut circle in enclosure on summit of Dewerstone Hill (Monument)
MDV56219Related to: QUARRY in the Parish of Meavy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7370 - Survey of the charcoal-burning platforms at Goodameavy

Date Last Edited:Jun 28 2018 11:44AM