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HER Number:MDV11812
Name:Stone alignment on West Mill Tor, Okehampton Hamlets


A double stone row thought to be of prehistoric date comprises 35 surviving stones, of which 7 are recumbent. The original arrangement may have included 64 stones. They now stand at a distance of 9m between rows as slabs set on edge and in line averaging 0.15m thick, 0.5m long and 0.4m high. A sinuous double row of set stones lies across the summit area of a moorland ridge. Its origins and function are obscure but it may be associated with military activity, possibly a trackway.


Grid Reference:SX 589 907
Map Sheet:SX59SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishOkehampton Hamlets
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishOKEHAMPTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX59SE20
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 440882
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX59SE/61

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • STONE ALIGNMENT (Constructed, Early Neolithic to Roman - 4000 BC? (Between) to 409 AD? (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1979, SX59SE20 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV272376.

(04/09/1979) Between SX58789077 and SX59019069, south of West Mill Tor, a double row of stones, found during field investigation, extends for 250 metres down the east side of the hill.
The distance between the rows averages 9.0 metres with a variation up to 0.5 metres, and the common distance between stones is 9.0 metres though some are as close as 5.0 metres. The majority of the stones are slabs set on edge and in line, averaging 0.15 metres thick, 0.5 metres long and 0.4 metres high. Most are trigged and about half have chisel-ended tops, though these seem natural rather than worked.
There are numerous gaps where stones have been removed and of at least 64 stones in the rows only 35 survive, including 7 that are recumbent. A number of small stones protrude from the surface near the rows (but not between them) and often on line in the interspaces between the slabs. These have not been surveyed on the plan since they are unlike the main group and, apart from the necessity for selection, they appear to be natural 'grounders'.
While the stones are similar to those in other Dartmoor rows the plan is so unusual as to provoke thoughts of a prehistoric attribution. The 25 metres vertical descent of the hillside is made with two near right angle curves and visibility is limited to about 80 metres at any one time. The rows are not oriented upon any particular object or point, though the original extent could have been beyond the present terminals. It is also curious that the rows have not been noted in the past. If they were meant to demarcate a track the curves would alleviate the gradient but the choice of route seems pointless, the width excessive, and it is unlikely that the relatively small slabs would be set with packing stones. Above all there is no evidence of ruts or hollowing as would be expected with use as a trackway. Thus, until some evidence can be produced to the contrary, the rows have more affinities to the prehistoric than any later period.
Surveyed at 1:10 000 on MSD and at 1:1 000. See, see ground photographs.

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP (Cartographic). SDV319854.

Not visible on aerial photographs.

Gerrard, S., 1993-2010, Monument Protection Programme Alternative Action Report (Report - non-specific). SDV145710.

Quinnell, N. V., 1995, Stone row on West Mill Tor (Personal Comment). SDV235742.

West Mill Tor. Uncertain whether this is prehistoric, or some early military features.

Probert, S. A. J. + Newman, P., 2003-2004, Measured survey North Dartmoor Military Range Okehampton Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey (Report - Survey). SDV350801.

(29/05/2004) A double line of set stones and slabs follows a sinuous course across the summit area and down the south facing slope of a moorland ridge between SX58789078 and SX 59039073. A total of 73 stones were identified during the resurvey of this curvilinear feature in 2004 - although some of the stones, now buried in the heather, may be natural earthfast boulders or stones. 18 stones or slabs are upright - they are on average 1.1 metre long and 0.5 metres wide and 5 stones or slabs are leaning. There are numerous mortar-shell holes in the area and, nearby a circular level platform at SX 58879073.
The original and function of this impressive, though slight feature are obscure. However there are indications on the ground that this alignment may have extended further to the north and may therefore be part of an extensive track or boundary work. As such it may have a military rather than a prehistoric origin because as Quinnell conceded it would be a most unusual stone row. An example of a military metalled road lined by small upright slabs is the track to Hangingstone Hill at SX 61328693.

English Heritage, 2005, Survey Information (miscellaneous date) (Report - Survey). SDV345855.

Feature shown on survey.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV145710Report - non-specific: Gerrard, S.. 1993-2010. Monument Protection Programme Alternative Action Report. English Heritage. Unknown.
SDV235742Personal Comment: Quinnell, N. V.. 1995. Stone row on West Mill Tor.
SDV272376Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1979. SX59SE20. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV319854Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV345855Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005. Survey Information (miscellaneous date). English Heritage. Digital. [Mapped feature: #126578 ]
SDV350801Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J. + Newman, P.. 2003-2004. Measured survey North Dartmoor Military Range Okehampton Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. 28-2004. Unknown.

Associated Monuments

MDV11813Related to: Sub-circular earthwork on West Mill Tor, Okehampton Hamlets (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7620 - Okehampton Artillary Range
  • EDV8679 - Okehampton Range: Management Survey
  • EDV8291 - Okehampton Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey
  • EDV8695 - Survey of Okehampton North Dartmoor Military Range

Date Last Edited:Nov 29 2021 5:13PM