HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV14150
Name:Merrivale Warren


Warren of at least 27 pillow mounds. Apparently permission was granted in 1830 to warren here, although Gerrard (1994) disputes this as a start date as he mentions Reverend Bray's comment in the 1830s that these were tumuli; an unlikely mis-identification if they were so recently constructed.


Grid Reference:SX 554 753
Map Sheet:SX57NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishWALKHAMPTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX57NE29
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 439654
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NE/13
  • Old SAM Ref Revised: 28688(P)
  • Old SAM Ref: 24202(P)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RABBIT WARREN (Early Medieval to XIX - 1066 AD (Between) to 1830 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/2149, 3174-5 (Aerial Photograph). SDV282746.

Royal Air Force, 1961, 58/4424, F42.165 (Aerial Photograph). SDV280247.

Linehan, C. D., 1966, Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon, 124, 141, Table 3 (Article in Serial). SDV307246.

SX 554 755. Merrivale Warren; twelve pillow mounds, 4-5 feet in height, on the bank of the Walkham river. They are of an unusual oval shape, about 30 feet long by 20 feet wide. They are marked as tumuli on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch map and several appear to have been dug into from the top, probably being mistaken for barrows.

Haynes, R. G., 1966-1969, Ruined Sites on Dartmoor (Un-published). SDV150434.

Permission to establish a warren at Merrivale was granted by the Lopes family to a man named Watts who built the Warrener's House about 1830. The warren was not in operation for more than a few years. The foundation of the house remain near the A384.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1979, SX57NE29 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV226449.

(Visited 04/12/1979) The warrener's House at SX 55647503, is now visible as substantial foundations of partly cut, drystone, walling 0.9m. thick and 0.6m. high. The building is 9.0m. long overall and 5.5m. wide with an entrance gap at the SW corner. The house is enclosed by a turf covered bank of stone 2.0m. wide and 0.6m. high which extends to the SW to form a garden or similar enclosure.
There are 14 pillow mounds (including 3 recorded on SX 57 NE 38) within a 19th century newtake and a further 13 on moorland to the E. All are widely scattered, 5 within the area SX 5576, the rest within SX 5575.
The mounds are not 'oval' as stated by Linehan but of true
'pillow' proportions, averaging 8.5m. long 4.5m. wide and 0.6m. high with a ditch 1.5m. wide and 0.3m. deep. Each mound is set at an approximate right angle to the contours and in every case the ditch is not continued around the lower end.
Two or three mounds have been dug into or may have suffered a constructional collapse, particularly one at SX 559937549
which has a large depression longitudinally along the centre. It is unlikely that any of the mounds is of Medieval origin.
Surveyed at 1:10 000 on MSD and at 1:2500.

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

Warren on west facing slope of Great Mis Tor. Nine pillow mounds visible. Natural barrier of River Walkham on west side of warren, man made boundaries to north, east, south and south-west.

Griffith, F. M., 1986, DAP/HO, 13 (Aerial Photograph). SDV256450.

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 133356, 143915 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

(08/09/1994 and 16/11/1994) Merrivale warren includes at least 27 pillow mounds. It has been suggested that many of the pillow mounds within the Merrivale warren may be of medieval date because of their unusual oval shape and association with a nearby medieval settlement. Most of the pillow mounds lie within the Merrivale newtake, but some lie on open moorland just outside the intake wall.
According to the National Monuments Record, the pillow mounds forming the Merrivale warren were built around 1830. This explanation seems most unlikely because in 1832 when the area was visited by the Reverend Bray, he interpreted these mounds as tumuli in the sacred cemetery of the druids - a mistake he is unlikely to have made if the mounds had recently been erected.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 82 (Monograph). SDV219155.

Crossing, W., 1992, Crossing's Dartmoor Worker, 57, 114 (Monograph). SDV351364.

Probert, S. A. J. + Fletcher, M. J., 2000, The Merrivale Guardianship Area, Walkhampton, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV344969.

(20/01/2000) A single pillow mound belonging to this warren lies within the English Heritage Guardianship Area and was surveyed along with the warrener's house and enclosures during the winter of 1999/2000.
The mound centred at SX 55677517, adjacent to the NE corner of Merrivale Newtake, is oriented NW to SE parallel to the contours. It is formed of three segments 5.6m, 13.1m and 9.3m from S to N that are around 4.0m wide with a uniform height of 0.6m. A well-defined drainage ditch lies on the upslope, NE margin and a series of lesser ditches flank the SW side.
The ruins of the rectangular single-roomed warrener's house lie at SX 55657503 immediately N of the B3357. Oriented roughly W to E the interior measures 12.4m by 4.3m surrounded by coursed boulder walls 1.0m wide and 0.5m high. An entrance flanked by upright granite posts lies at the S end of the W wall. Immediately outside the entrance is an area of artificially raised ground perhaps designed to provide a hardstanding. The interior of the warrener's house is partially obscured by rubble and mutilated by a military slit trench. There are no obvious internal features.
The adjoining enclosure is rectangular in plan and measures 20.2m N to S by 9.6m and is bounded by a steep-sided turf and stone bank 2.0m wide and 0.6m high. The S wall has been removed. A short length of what appears to be contemporary walling lies 30m to the S on the opposite side of the B3357.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV150434Un-published: Haynes, R. G.. 1966-1969. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Manuscript + Digital.
SDV219155Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 82.
SDV226449Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1979. SX57NE29. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Unknown.
SDV256450Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1986. DAP/HO. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 13.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 133356, 143915.
SDV280247Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1961. 58/4424. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). F42.165.
SDV282746Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/2149. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3174-5.
SDV307246Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1966. Deserted Sites and Rabbit-Warrens on Dartmoor, Devon. Medieval Archaeology. 10. Digital. 124, 141, Table 3.
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.
SDV344969Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J. + Fletcher, M. J.. 2000. The Merrivale Guardianship Area, Walkhampton, Devon. English Heritage. 1247982. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.
SDV351364Monograph: Crossing, W.. 1992. Crossing's Dartmoor Worker. Crossing's Dartmoor Worker. Paperback Volume. 57, 114.

Associated Monuments

MDV55274Parent of: Pillow mound (Monument)
MDV55273Parent of: Pillow mound 700 metres north-east of Merrivale Bridge (Monument)
MDV55269Parent of: Pillow mound 870 metres east-north-east of Merrivale Bridge (Monument)
MDV55271Parent of: Pillow mound 900 metres south-south-west of Little Mis Tor (Monument)
MDV55270Parent of: Pillow mound 920 metres north-east of Merrivale Bridge (Monument)
MDV55292Parent of: Pillow mound east-north-east of Merrivale Bridge (Monument)
MDV55293Parent of: Pillow mound east-north-east of Merrivale Bridge (Monument)
MDV55294Parent of: Pillow mound east-north-east of Merrivale Bridge (Monument)
MDV15706Parent of: PILLOW MOUND in the Parish of Dartmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV63863Parent of: Vermin trap in streamwork north of Merrivale Bridge (Monument)
MDV61971Parent of: Vermin trap near Blowing Mill north-east of Merrivale Bridge (Monument)
MDV20665Parent of: Warrener's House, Merrivale Warren (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4830 - Survey of guardianship area, Merrivale

Date Last Edited:Oct 15 2021 12:21PM