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HER Number:MDV24936
Name:Field system in Hentor Warren

Summary

Some 46 hectares of abandoned field system lie on the relatively dry valley sides above the left bank of the River Plym 400m north of Hentor Farmhouse. At least three phases of use are apparent in this area: The area is traversed by the Willings Walls Reave (SX 56 NE 123) and traces of prehistoric occupation lie above Shavercombe Brook. The bulk of the remains date from the later medieval or post medieval periods and relate to an intensive phase of arable cultivation. The orientation of the long rectangular fields is possibly conditioned by the course of the reave and several of the prehistoric features have been incorporated into the overall pattern. Robertson suggests that this phase began around the 16th century with the redevelopment of Hentor Farm and may have ended with the abandonment of the farm in the late 18th or very early 19th centuries. The final phase of activity is represented by the pillow mounds which overlie areas of ridge and furrow and sit upon the earlier banks. The suggestion that the area was ploughed in the Napoleonic period appears tenuous.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 590 661
Map Sheet:SX56NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishShaugh Prior
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSHAUGH PRIOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: sx56ne125
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56NE/385
  • Old SAM Ref: 24230(P)
  • Pastscape: 438855

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FIELD SYSTEM (Constructed, Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Haynes, R. G., 1978, Typescript notes and plans (Un-published). SDV285917.

"The most notable remains are of a considerable field system on the north, where the land begins to slope towards the Plym. Part of these, probably the fields around a longhouse towards Shavercombe, may be of Medieval origin. The remainder, south and west of this, may have been cultivated much later. There is a local tradition, mentioned by Worth and Crossing, of ploughing these steep fields using two yoke (ten) of oxen during the Napoleonic Wars. The field walls vary considerably in size and material, and are impossible to date with any exactitude".

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1979, SX56NE125 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV165863.

(13/03/1979) A complex field system centred SX 590 662 extends over 30 hectares on a northern slope above the Plym between 305m and 360m OD.
Prehistoric occupation is provided by four enclosures and 15 huts. Associated with these is a curvilinear bank with a ditch on its upper side. It is about 500m long and roughly follows the contours, the bank 2m wide and 0.6m high on the n and the ditch 1m wide and 0.4m deep. Two huts abut the bank and interrupt the ditch, i.e. they appear to post-date it. The bank has evidently been utilized as a later boundary and may have been heightened by subsequent clearance.
At SX 5916 6614 a small enclosure is clearly respected by a prehistoric bank 0.3m high which extends 30m to the west and 30m to the east, where it is overlaid by a later bank.
The prehistoric area is partly occupied by fields of Medieval or later usage. These extend up and downhill from a linear bank 1km long. They form in effect a parallel reave system which may be an adaptation of a Prehistoric pattern. All are massive banks, up to 4m wide and 0.8m high broken occasionally by pillow mounds. It may be fortuitous but the west end of the main base bank is attached to Willings Wall reave as though it is, or originally was, a branch. The fields to the north exhibit rig and furrow ploughing much obscured by heather. Those to the south may also have rig and furrow but there are fragmentary sub-divisions, very low and discontinuous, which suggest a former Prehistoric system.
A complete survey is necessary for full interpretation. Nevertheless, there would seem to be three periods of utilization; Prehistoric, Medieval and post-Medieval, i.e. Napoleonic. The longhouse type buildings to the north-east of the area are perhaps Medieval in origin but could have been re-used in the early 19th century.

National Monuments Record, 1983, SF2134, 39,40,47-54,59 (Aerial Photograph). SDV231262.

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

Rectangular field system on north facing slope of Hentor Warren. Fields extend from River Plym to 1175 foot contour forming a rectangular block of approximately 28.5 hectares. Limits of system SX58616597, SX58846579, SX59216652, SX59486624. Field system cut by leat SX56NE/386. Pillow mounds at SX58576602, SX58596602, SX59306622, SX58696610. Part of field system of Hentor House SX56NE. Enclosure SX56NE/54 attached to field system.

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 140487 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

The historic field system at Hentor Warren covers approximately 101 hectares, is situated on the lower slopes of Hentor and overlooks the valleys of the River Plym, Shavercombe and Hentor Brooks. The field system is attached to the earlier Willings Walls reave (SX56NE/275), which was refurbished at the time the fields were laid out. It is considered very likely that the group of rectangular fields forming the northern part of the system were laid out in their present form during the Medieval period, although it is possible that some were built upon earlier prehistoric fields hanging off the Willings Walls reave. It is known that these fields were still being used in the early part of the 19th century when Peter Nicholls cultivated fields known as Five Reaves during the Napoleonic wars. The traces of broad rig and furrow visible within some of these fields may date to this period of exploitation.
The medieval settlements which were associated with this field system survive at SX59196635 (SX56NE/126) AND SX59026559 (SX56NE/124). Although the first settlement shows no signs of post-Medieval development, the second at Hentor Farm is known to have been occupied until the early part of the 19th century. It may therefore be assumed that the farmstead linked to the later activity was Hentor Farm. The south and east part of the field system is laid out informally and formed by at least six large irregular fields, each defined by a drystone wall, which in places is revetted by an earth and stone bank. Only one length of field boundary appears not to have been refurbished in the post-Medieval period. This is a 410m length of 1m wide and 0.3m high bank leading from the Willings Walls reave at SX 5844 6554 to the Hentor Brook at SX 5820 6574. The accompanying ditch lies on the north side of the bank and measures 1m wide and up 0.5m deep.
The field system is so extensive that it is possible to demonstrate the relationship between it and a number of other archaeological features. Thus along its western edge the drystone field wall overlies in part the earlier alluvial streamwork. This streamwork is considered to be of Medieval date and therefore this length of walling must either be late Medieval or more likely post-Medieval in origin. At SX 5916 6628 a number of barbed wire entanglement stanchions lie within an area where the field boundary has been truncated. It seems most likely that this short length of field wall was damaged during military training.
The field system appears to have ceased functioning for arable purposes before the rabbit warren was established in this area. There are several examples of pillow mounds and animal runs lying within the fields, whilst in places the earlier field walls have been converted into pillow mounds. The field system certainly seems to have been abandoned before 1835 when the Phillips Leat was cut through several of the fields.

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

Depicted by Butler.

Thackray, C., 1994, The Upper Plym Valley: the management of an historic landscape, Plan 3 (Report - non-specific). SDV143510.

Probert, S. A. J. + Fletcher, M. J., 2002, Plym Valley survey (Report - Survey). SDV350782.

(23/04/2002) Centred SX 590 662. Some 46 hectares of abandoned field system lie on the relatively dry valley sides above the left bank of the River Plym 400m north of Hentor Farmhouse. At least three phases of use are apparent in this area:
The area is traversed by the Willings Walls Reave (SX 56 NE 123) and traces of prehistoric occupation lie above Shavercombe Brook. The bulk of the remains date from the later medieval or post medieval periods and relate to an intensive phase of arable cultivation. The orientation of the long rectangular fields is possibly conditioned by the course of the reave and several of the prehistoric features have been incorporated into the overall pattern. Robertson suggests that this phase began around the 16th century with the redevelopment of Hentor Farm and may have ended with the abandonment of the farm in the late 18th or very early 19th centuries. The final phase of activity is represented by the pillow mounds which overlie areas of ridge and furrow and sit upon the earlier banks. The suggestion that the area was ploughed in the Napoleonic period appears tenuous.

Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC, 2015-2017, 2015-2017 Aerial Photographs (Aerial Photograph). SDV361462.

Field boundaries are visible on the aerial photography.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV137656Monograph: Butler, J.. 1994. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West. Three. Paperback Volume.
SDV143510Report - non-specific: Thackray, C.. 1994. The Upper Plym Valley: the management of an historic landscape. Plan 3.
SDV165863Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1979. SX56NE125. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV231262Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1983. SF2134. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 39,40,47-54,59.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 140487.
SDV285917Un-published: Haynes, R. G.. 1978. Typescript notes and plans. Unknown.
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.
SDV350782Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J. + Fletcher, M. J.. 2002. Plym Valley survey. English Heritage Archaeological Investigation Report. Unknown.
SDV361462Aerial Photograph: Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. 2015-2017. 2015-2017 Aerial Photographs. Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. Photograph (Digital). [Mapped feature: #122289 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV3479Related to: Cairn with cist, Hentor Warren (Monument)
MDV25259Related to: Field system around Hentor Farm (Monument)
MDV13510Related to: Hentor Warren, Shaugh Prior (Monument)
MDV55478Related to: Hut circle north of Shavercombe Tor (Monument)
MDV55498Related to: Medieval enclosure west of the Shavercombe Brook (Monument)
MDV24937Related to: Phillips Leat, Shaugh Prior (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8148 - The Upper Plym Valley: The Management of an Historic Landscape
  • EDV8155 - Plym Valley Survey

Date Last Edited:Oct 22 2019 10:14AM