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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 439553

Hob Uid: 439553
Location :
Devon
West Devon
Meavy
Grid Ref : SX5398064040
Summary : A poorly preserved stone-built double walled enclosure, the outer of two enclosures (see SX 56 SW 32 for the other). Thought to represent the site of a Neolithic hilltop enclosure.
More information : (SX 53956408) Earthwork (NR)
(SX 53836394) Enclosure and Hut circle (NR). (1)

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. (2)

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. (3)

The rocks at "P" on the summit of the ridge have the appearance of a small enclosure. The southeast end of the double wall appears to have descended to the stream below. (4)

The date of the pound and double, outer walls on Dewerstone has been the subject of changing interpretations over the last sixty years.(5) 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.(6)

Worth included Dewerstone, in his 1948 assessment of the prehistoric pounds of Dartmoor, as an example of a simple pound.(3,3a) 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 stonebuilt 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.(8)

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.(9)

The dating of the sites at Dewerstone, Whittor (SX 57 NW 8), Stowe's Pound (SX 27 SE 7 & 31) and Rough Tor (SX 18 SW 5) was reassessed by Silvester in his 1979 paper on first millenium settlement in the south west. All four sites are located close to granite outcrops in potentially defensible positions and can be described as 'tor enclosures' with double, rubble stone wall construction apparent at both Dewerstone and Whittor. Silvester suggests that, although the pound and hut circle lie within the enclosed area on Dewerstone, there is not reason why these should be contemporary. The amount of rubble which has fallen from the walls is quite small, suggesting that the walls never attained any great height and were unlikely to be defensive. Silvester proposed that these tor enclosures are unlikely to date to the Iron age because of their siting on higher moorland and their method of construction. A second to third millenium date for all four enclosures was proposed.(10)

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'. Todd distinguished 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. Todd observed that there has been little excavation of these sites and suggested that dating evidence will always remain slight.(11)

(SX 5395 6406) In Novenber 1994, RCHME 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 NMR number (SX 56 SW 32). The stone-built double wall of the outer enclosure is poorly preserved with an average height of 0.7m, and given its loose composition is unlikely to have stood higher than 1.5m. The inner and outer walls now have average widths of 4.0m and 3.4m 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 source (3), 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 RCHME plan) may be an incline associated with later quarrying (SX 56 SW 34) rather than part of the enclosure. The interpretation based on source (4) should be regarded as unreliable (12a); 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 RCHME Level 3 client report and earthwork plan at 1:1000 scale, held in archive. (12)

SX 53866398. Neolithic hilltop enclosure, defined by two parallel rubble walls standing up to 0.7 metres high. Scheduled. (13)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1954
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Source Number : 2
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : Corr 6" (Lady A Fox April 1951)
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Source Number : 10
Source : Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings
Source details : RJ Silvester. The relationship of first millennium settlement to the upland areas of the south west.
Page(s) : 188-189
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 37, 1979
Source Number : 11
Source : A regional history of England
Source details : M Todd, 1987, South West to AD 1000
Page(s) : 76-77
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Source Number : 12
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : RCHME: INDUSTRY AND ENCLOSURE IN THE NEOLITHIC PROJECT: Dewerstone Hill Survey
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Source Number : 12a
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : RCHME Aerial Photographic Unit aerial transcription of Dartmoor 1985
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Source Number : 13
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 11-Feb-02
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Source : Dewerstone Hill enclosures
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Source : Dewerstone Hill enclosures/pencil survey
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Source : Dewerstone Hill enclosures/ink survey
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Source : Dewerstone Hill enclosures
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Source Number : 3
Source : Devonshire Association reports and transactions
Source details : Plan (R H Worth)
Page(s) : 273-303
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Vol(s) : 75, 1943
Source Number : 3a
Source : Devonshire Association reports and transactions
Source details : A Fox
Page(s) : 178
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Vol(s) : 71, 1939
Source Number : 4
Source : Aerial photograph
Source details : (RAF/106G/UK 1190 3237-8 27.2.46)
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Rec 2 KMF 10-NOV-1994
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Source Number : 6
Source : Devonshire Association reports and transactions
Source details : CW Pilkington-Rogers. The Date of Dartmoor Antiquities.
Page(s) : 384
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 64, 1932
Source Number : 7
Source : Devonshire Association reports and transactions
Source details : A Fox
Page(s) : 78-79
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Vol(s) : 95, 1963
Source Number : 8
Source : South-West England, 3500BC-AD600
Source details :
Page(s) : 92,123,257
Figs. :
Plates : 38
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Prehistoric Dartmoor
Source details :
Page(s) : 55-6,178-9
Figs. :
Plates : 36
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Neolithic
Display Date : Neolithic
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Hilltop Enclosure
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 34436
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 56 SW 14
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 439744
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 434407
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 439558
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 915508
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 435704
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 915508
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 915510
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 915513
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : RCHME: INDUSTRY AND ENCLOSURE IN THE NEOLITHIC: DEWERSTONE HILL SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1994-11-07
End Date : 1994-11-18