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HER Number:MDV5919
Name:Hut circle 480 metres north-east of Bellever Tor

Summary

Hut circle within a Bronze Age settlement and field system approximately 500 metres north-east of Bellever Tor, within the Bellever plantation, with a south-east facing entrance. This hut circle was fully excavated internally over three seasons (2007-2009), revealing distinct phases of occupation during the mid-late Bronze Age period and secondary use of the site when a cairn was constructed on the round house site, following its abandonment. Palaeoenvironmental evidence from the site has supported the dating of the site.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 648 767
Map Sheet:SX67NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • MPP Archaeological Item Dataset: 144275
  • National Archaeological Record: SX67NW39.10
  • National Monuments Record: SX67NW39
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67NW/53/4
  • Old SAM Ref: 28689
  • Pastscape: 442620

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HUT CIRCLE (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

National Monuments Record, 12/12/2012, 442620 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV350740.

A Bronze Age irregular aggregate field system lying on a ridge between Bellever Tor and Lakehead Hill. The field walls are composed of rubble banks standing up to 2 metres wide and 0.7 metres high. Within the fields are nine visible stone hut circles. To the east of the field system lies a further stone hut circle. Scheduled.


Dartmoor National Park Authority + Forestry Commission + Dartmoor Preservation Association, 1976, Conservation of Ancient Monuments. The Report of a Working Party (Report - non-specific). SDV248248.

Hut-circle. Diameter 7.46 metres, wall 1.2 metres thick. Not included in 1955 Spooner/Dixon report. New discovery. Site number 4C in Bellever plantation, Bellever Tor settlement.
Site visit 1976: Stone wall covered with moss, not investigated, has been planted over.
Site visit April 1976. Hut clear of trees and debris. Nine posts ringing clearance zone, enclosing sites 4C 5C (hut circle). Ninety-eight trees standing inside but clear of debris. Trees outside post ring are within falling distance of huts.


Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 121,
ap 27
(Monograph). SDV219155.

Group of eight hut circles including this one depicted on Butler's map to the north-east of the main settlement site north of Bellever Tor. The relationship between these huts (within the forest plantation) not established at this point.


Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1992, Bellever (Report - Survey). SDV248251.

Site visit: 17th September 1992. Hut 10: diameter 8.0 metres, wall 1.8 metres wide, 0.8 metres high. Entrance to the south-east. Set within a sub-circular compound 16.0 metres in diameter. One of a pair. There is heavy moss cover over this hut.


Gerrard, S., 1992-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., 144275 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

Site visit 8th July 1997. Stone hut circle forming part of a prehistoric stone hut circle settlement north of Bellever Tor. Hut circle measuring 6.6 metres in diameter with single orthostat and earthwork wall 2.0 metres wide, 0.9 metres high. A 150 degree facing gap may represent a doorway. Several tree stumps within hut. Interior very boggy. Large conifers in vicinity.


Agricultural Development Advisory Service, 1995, Bellever (Worksheet). SDV248250.

Site visit 14th February 1995. Site stable.


Gerrard, S., 1997, Book of Dartmoor: Landscapes Through Time, 37-65 (Monograph). SDV337813.


English Heritage, 2005, Prehistoric Survey Information (Report - Survey). SDV345521.

Hut circle and the surrounding Bronze Age settlement and field system shown on English Heritage survey.


Southwest Archaeology, 2007, Hut Circle Bellever Tor, Dartmoor. Results of an Archaeological Evaluation, 2-3 (Report - Evaluation). SDV347150.

South West Archaeology were commissioned by Dartmoor National Park Authority to undertake the excavation of an evaluation trench to investigate a hut circle damaged by forestry plantation and wind-blow of mature Sitka Spruce trees.
The feature survives as a prominent sub-circular earthwork ring- bank, 9.0 metres from bank crest to bank crest west-east and 12.0 metres across the north-south diameter.
A single trench was excavated by hand across the earthworks. This trench was 1.0 metres wide and 12.0 metres in length. It was aligned to pass alongside the edge of a large root-throw. The purpose of the trench was to evaluate the survival of archaeological deposits, rather than to provide a full and comprehensive investigation.
The evaluation trench revealed the presence of several well preserved archaeological features within the hut circle, despite areas of disturbance of deposits. Within the radius of the root plates of wind-blown trees, damage to archaeological deposits and features was severe and in the area immediately around the perimeter of the root plate damage by root-tearing was considerable. Elsewhere within the site there was considerable woody root penetration, with only moderate impact on the archaeology.
No archaeological finds or artefacts were recovered during the excavation.


Hughes, S., 2009, A Bronze Age Roundhouse at Bellever Tor, Dartmoor Forest, Devon. Results of Archaeological Excavations, 3 (Report - Evaluation). SDV347154.

A third season of archaeological excavation of a Bronze Age roundhouse at Bellever was undertaken during July and August 2009.
The work comprised the excavation of the full interior of the structure, which has established four phases of occupation and repair, as well as an indication of the method of construction of the roundhouse. A series of stakeholes were positioned around the perimeter of the roundhouse wall, probably supporting wattle or planking, acting as additional weatherproofing. There were indications of internal division and a possible hearth was also recorded. An important assemblage of pottery was recovered which broadens knowledge on Middle Bronze Age ceramics in the region, while the individual locations of specific sherds within the roundhouse hint at the subtle spatial separation of activities undertaken during its use.
The occupation features and deposits were sealed by a layer of collapsed walling, while the identification in 2008 of a sub-squared stone cairn feature, set on this material, provides evidence for secondary use of the monument following its abandonment.


GeoInformation Group Ltd, 2010, 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution) (Aerial Photograph). SDV346026.

Hut circle very clearly visible on the 2010 aerial photography (having been previously always obscured by tree cover). Position of the hut is slightly to the north-west of the location marked on modern Ordnance Survey mapping but corresponds to the 2005 English Heritage digital survey.


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Map object based on this Source.


Hughes, S., 2012, A Bronze Age Settlement at Bellever Tor, Dartmoor: Results of archaeological excavations in 2011, 3, 6. Figures 1-3. Plates 1-3 (Report - Excavation). SDV359661.

The positions of the two roundhouse entrances (Stuctures 1 and 2) suggest they were in use at the same time forming a complex with both opening onto an enclosed yard area. The exposed section of the perimeter wall to Structure 1 was 1.9 metres wide and approximately 0.6 metres high composed of granite pieces up to 0.7 metres long. Three courses of masonry survived with a central core of granite rubble.


English Heritage, 2013, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV350785.

[Part of] A prehistoric settlement with enclosures, an irregular aggregate field system and cairn north of Bellever Tor.
The monument, which falls into five areas of protection, includes an agglomerated enclosure and irregular aggregate field system containing stone hut circles and a round cairn lying on a ridge between Bellever Tor and Lakehead Hill. The monument overlooks the valleys of the Cherry Brook and East Dart River. The irregular aggregate field system survives as a block of 17 fields covering at least 4ha. The field walls are composed of rubble banks standing up to 2m wide and 0.7m high. Within the fields there are nine visible stone hut circles. To the east of the field system lies a further stone hut circle, whilst to the west there are two enclosures. The northern enclosure is agglomerated and measures overall at least 340m north to south by 270m east to west. One stone hut circle lies within this enclosure and another two are attached to the enclosure walling. The southern enclosure, which measures 500m north to south by 300m east to west, is probably oval in shape, although the eastern side is no longer visible. West of these enclosures lies a further agglomerated enclosure. This survives as at least ten irregular shaped areas each defined by boulder and rubble walling. Four stone hut circles survive within the enclosure and three of these are butted by enclosure walling. Sitting next to the north eastern side of the enclosure is a small cairn measuring 3.7m in diameter and standing up tp 0.5m high. The stone hut circles within the settlement all survive as banks surrounding circular or oval internal areas which varies from 14.5 sq m to 50.2 sq m with the average being 27.6 sq m. The height of the surrounding walls vary between 0.25m and 0.9m, with the average being 0.56m. The orthostatic and rubble bank walling building traditions are all represented. Ten of the huts have visible doorways and seven are attached to lengths of walling. The surface of the forest road leading through the monument, together with modern drainage channels and lengths of post and wire fencing are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.


Hughes, S., February2009, A Bronze Age roundhouse at Bellever Tor, Dartmoor Forest, Devon. Results of an Archaeological Evaluation, 4-6 (Report - Evaluation). SDV347149.

Excavation in October 2008 revealed that the archaeological deposits within the house were generally undamaged by the proximity of the trees, although the hut walls had suffered more damage due to roots and felling.
The two postholes and the series of six stakeholes discovered provides some information on the internal arrangement of the roundhouse. The two postholes are likely to have held posts supporting a roof, although it is not known if these are contemporary or represent subsequent re-modelling. The linear arrangement of stakeholes is likely to have supported stakes for a wooden lining to the internal side of the perimeter wall, possibly to mask or provide additional weatherproofing to the internal exposed stone face. Part of the internal area was overlaid by a granite-paved surface, probably constructed after a period of occupation/accumulation. The pottery recovered from the site is middle Bronze Age in date and the sherds were located close to the entrance which may indicate some form of deliberate deposition, either casual refuse dumping, or more significantly some form of closing deposit for the first phase of occupation of the roundhouse.
Similar areas of paving have also been recorded at Heatree and Kestor, Dartmoor. The location of the surface in the southeast part of the roundhouse next to the probable entrance indicates the need for more robust flooring in this location.
A stone alignment may represent a collapsed internal structure or even a later phase of division within the roundhouse. However, the feature was fairly ephemeral and it could merely represent collapsed perimeter wall material.
Towards the south of the roundhouse interior, was a sub-squared cairn arrangement of granite pieces, measuring 2.4 metres in length and 2.0 metres wide, constructed of mixed size granite pieces, which in places were arranged in a radial arrangement around the perimeter of the feature. The structure was 0.6 metres high and contained a dark grey sandy silt between the stones. A single water-worn pebble whetstone was recovered from within the masonry. The structure was probably built shortly after the roundhouse had gone out of use and the presence of this is evidence for secondary use of the monument following abandonment.


Fyfe, R. M. + Head, K., March 2009, Bellever, Dartmoor. Palaeoenvironmental Assessment and Radiocarbon Dating, 1 (Report - Scientific). SDV347152.

Excavations of a roundhouse at Bellever have provided evidence for at least three phases of use of the site, including two occupation phases and the re-use of the location for a small cairn. The date of the second phase is constrained by the recovery of sherds of Trevisker ware, indicating a mid-late Bronze Age date. This report presents the results of assessment of a range of environmental samples recovered during excavation, with the primary aims of recovering suitable material for radiometric dating of the first phase of occupation and characterising the nature of the contemporary environment of the site.
Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and macrofossils from two postholes and two stakeholes broadly confirms the pottery chronology. The site was occupied in the latter half of the second millennium BC, around 1610-1400 calibrated BC, and probably no longer in use by 1420-1260 calibrated BC. Pollen analytical work has demonstrated that the local contemporary environment of the site is an open, improved grassland, with little evidence of woodland cover. Following the ultimate abandonment of the site, the local environment shows a gradual shift to open heath communities.


Fyfe, R. M. + Perez, M., March 2010, Bellever, Dartmoor. Palaeoenvironmental Assessment and Radiocarbon Dating, 2009, 6-7 (Report - Scientific). SDV347153.

The dates extracted from the first phase of radiocarbon dating are broadly confirmed by the results of subsequent radiocarbon dating of contexts excavated in 2009 (during the third season of excavation), reported here.
Charred macrofossil analysis from the 2009 excavations recovered a significant amount of oak charcoal from a variety of context, but palaeoeconomic evidence was limited to a handful of fragments of what are probably oat grains. The limited evidence suggests domestic use rather than extensive processing on site. Seeds from the assessed samples imply a predominantly open environment around the site, with remains of chickweed, bedstraw and various grasses.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 121, ap 27.
  • Report - non-specific: Dartmoor National Park Authority + Forestry Commission + Dartmoor Preservation Association. 1976. Conservation of Ancient Monuments. The Report of a Working Party. Dartmoor National Park Authority Field Report. A4 Bound.
  • Monograph: Gerrard, S.. 1997. Book of Dartmoor: Landscapes Through Time. Book of Dartmoor: Landscapes Through Time. Paperback Volume. 37-65.
  • Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1992. Bellever. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation. Unknown.
  • Worksheet: Agricultural Development Advisory Service. 1995. Bellever. Agricultural Development Advisory Sheet. Unknown.
  • Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1992-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. 144275.
  • Report - Scientific: Fyfe, R. M. + Head, K.. March 2009. Bellever, Dartmoor. Palaeoenvironmental Assessment and Radiocarbon Dating. University of Plymouth. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 1.
  • Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005. Prehistoric Survey Information. English Heritage. Digital.
  • Report - Evaluation: Hughes, S.. February2009. A Bronze Age roundhouse at Bellever Tor, Dartmoor Forest, Devon. Results of an Archaeological Evaluation. AC Archaeology Report. ACD08/2/0. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 4-6.
  • Report - Scientific: Fyfe, R. M. + Perez, M.. March 2010. Bellever, Dartmoor. Palaeoenvironmental Assessment and Radiocarbon Dating, 2009. University of Plymouth. A4 Stapled. 6-7.
  • Report - Evaluation: Hughes, S.. 2009. A Bronze Age Roundhouse at Bellever Tor, Dartmoor Forest, Devon. Results of Archaeological Excavations. AC Archaeology Report. ACD82/2/0. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 3.
  • Aerial Photograph: GeoInformation Group Ltd. 2010. 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution). 2010 Aerial Photographs. Digital.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
  • Report - Evaluation: Southwest Archaeology. 2007. Hut Circle Bellever Tor, Dartmoor. Results of an Archaeological Evaluation. Southwest Archaeology Report. A4 Bound + Digital. 2-3.
  • National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 12/12/2012. 442620. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
  • National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2013. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
  • Report - Excavation: Hughes, S.. 2012. A Bronze Age Settlement at Bellever Tor, Dartmoor: Results of archaeological excavations in 2011. AC Archaeology Report. ACD308/1/0. 3, 6. Figures 1-3. Plates 1-3.

Associated Monuments

MDV52774Part of: Bronze Age Settlement to north of Bellever Tor (Monument)
MDV5916Related to: FIELD SYSTEM in the Parish of Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV5920Related to: Hut circle 590 metres north-east of Bellever Tor, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV115470Related to: Yard between two Hut Circles on Bellever Tor, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV5277 - FLINT (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC)
  • FDV5276 - WORKED STONE (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC)
  • FDV5275 - POT (Middle Bronze Age - 1500 BC to 1001 BC)

Associated Events

  • EDV5011 - Evaluation of a Roundhouse at Bellever Tor (Ref: ACD08/2/0)
  • EDV5013 - Archaeological Evaluation of a Hut Circle at Bellever Tor
  • EDV5015 - Excavation of round house, Bellever (Ref: ACD82/2/0)

Date Last Edited:Jul 1 2016 1:20PM