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HER Number:MDV2591
Name:Medieval field system north of Wotter

Summary

A multi-phase field system of probable medieval to 19th century date is recorded on the south-west facing slopes of Wotter Common, south of Hawk's Tor. The field system incorporates elements of the Bronze Age parallel reave field system from Shaugh Moor alongside corn ditches and lazy beds, forming a drove road giving access to the open moor.
Several phases of expansion and contraction are apparent north of Wotter. Precise dating of this activity is not possible though by analogy with other areas of Dartmoor, it would seem likely that the fields were occupied and abandoned several times from the later 12th century until the Napoleonic period.
The field boundaries are visible as stony earthwork banks on aerial photographs of 1946 onwards, digital images derived from aerial photographs of 2002 onwards and visualisations derived from lidar data captured in 2013.
This site is included in the local list of Nationally Important Dartmoor sites.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 551 623
Map Sheet:SX56SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishShaugh Prior
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSHAUGH PRIOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX 56 SE 136
  • National Monuments Record: SX 56 SE 170
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56SE/181
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56SW/89
  • Pastscape (Yes): 1105322
  • Pastscape: 439495

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FIELD SYSTEM (Constructed, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1190, 3235 (Aerial Photograph). SDV340833.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1190, RAF/106G/UK/1190 RP 3256-3258 27-FEB-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363067.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/106G/UK/1190, RAF/106G/UK/1190 RS 4233-4234 27-FEB-1946 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363067.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

Royal Air Force, 1964, RAF/58/6399, RAF/58/6399 F64 0381-0382 02-JUL-1964 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363068.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

Price, D. G., 1973, Ancient fields on Shaugh Moor, 91-2 (Article in Serial). SDV147593.

Field system south-west of Hawks Tor. The remaining boundaries belong to larger fields, presumably of later date than the prehistoric system (PRN 48888). Construction of a gun emplacement has probably destroyed the evidence for the extension of earlier fields in this group down to the Wotter road.

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1977, NMR 1125, NMR 1125/338-343 14-APR-1977 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363333.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

Collis, J., 1978, Untitled article?, 24-25 (Article in Serial). SDV147633.

The Wotter Field System
These have not yet been fully planned, but at least three phases are identifiable. On the lower slopes adjacent to the cross roads there are several low broad banks which at present from no coherent pattern, and have further been disturbed by a gun emplacement. These are overlain at one point by a terrace-like field boundary containing orthostats, on which sits a large, and presumably contemporary hut. The third phase, assumed to be medieval, consists of eroded banks with ditches, but several of these banks clearly follow earlier lines.
The upper, eastern, part of the system has so far only produced evidence of two phases, the earlier, presumably prehistoric, with low stone banks, or on the steeper slopes slight terraces formed by medium size blocks of granite. There are several construction periods in this phase, and the whole is linked with the parallel reaves by a series of banks laid out in arcs. The later phase has slight ditches and these clearly cut the simple banks. To this phase perhaps belongs the banked track which runs diagonally up the slope from Wotter towards Collard Tor. At a yet later date boundary orthostats inscribed with letter 'H' were erected on the banks.

National Monuments Record, 1980, NMR 1746, NMR 1747/238 21-APR-1980 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363132.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

National Monuments Record, 1980, NMR SX5562 (Aerial Photograph). SDV346681.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1980, SX56SE136 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV147632.

(07/10/1980) The Wotter field system of some 23 hectares centred at SX 554622 lies on the south-west slope of Wotter Common between 213m. and 274m. O.D. in an area of gorse and bracken.
The lower slopes show no coherent field pattern though the amorphous and fragmented remains suggest sub-rectangular fields with a field way running from the south to the north-east of the area. The surviving banks, of varying sizes and probably different periods, measure between 1.4m. wide and 0.2m. high, and 0.8m. wide and 0.5m. high with lynchets building up to 1.2m. high behind the boundaries containing orthostats.
The predominant fields to the north "upper eastern part of system" are sub-rectangular in shape and average 72m. by 42m. The banks measure 1.8m. wide and 0.3m. high and are constructed of boulders and rubble; some boundaries are visible as lynchets (see plan).
Collis (1978) suggests that the double bank between SX 5567 6214 and SX 5575 6225 is a result of two phase parallel reave construction. The remains are now only 140m. long, the former extent to the north-east and the stream being obliterated by a waste tip; the south-west termination is a mass of clitter (see annotated plan). The west bank forms the boundary to a field system and at two points has been consolidated into a distinct wall. There is no real evidence of clearance between the two banks and the purpose of the interspace is obscure. Double bank surveyed at 1:2500 on M.S.D.

Collis, J., 1983, Field Systems and Boundaries on Shaugh Moor and at Wotter, Dartmoor, 47-54, 61 (Article in Serial). SDV144058.

The Wotter, or Hawk's Tor field system was surveyed in 1978 and eight building phases were recorded (See illustration cards).
Phase 0 : Features which cannot be tied to the main sequence.
Phase I : The earliest feature is 'F', a rectangular enclosure.
Phase II : Enclosures 'G-K' were laid out, the western side of 'F' remaining open.
Phase III: The parallel reaves (7,8) of Shaugh moor (banks 2,11) were laid out, (reave 8, bank 2, is the Wotter reave, SX 56 SE 157), and the enclosure system is linked to it by bank 3.
Phase IV : Enclosure 'E' was attached to 'F'. Enclosures E,F and H were partially reconstructed. Subsequently, bank 9 was built from enclosure E to enclosure B and forms the east side of enclosure C. Bank 18 was extended form the latter and incorporates two cairns in its course.
Phase V-VIII: There are banks up to 1.0, across with a ditch external to the enclosed area, and includes a hollow way to the south-west of the area. Bank 15 is probably a reconstruction of the southern extent of bank 9. The whale constitutes the late Saxon-Medieval-Post-Medieval periods.
Phase VIII: This consists of a number of granite posts inscribed with the letter 'H' which are Medieval.

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

Field boundaries on 'The Bowling Green' and to the east of it visible on the 1946 aerial photograph at SX 5472 6262. Ridge and furrow crf:SX56SW/92 visible on the aerial photograph within the system (see MDV25300).

Butler, J., 1994, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Three - The South-West, Map 48 (Monograph). SDV137656.

Depicted by Butler.

National Monuments Record, 1998, NMR 18021, NMR 18021/21 19-MAY-1998 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363402.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

National Monuments Record, 1998, NMR 18051, NMR 18051/10 19-MAY-1998 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363403.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

Fletcher, M. + Probert, S., 1998, Shaugh Moor, Devon: An Archaeological Survey (Report - Survey). SDV343481.

(04/12/1997) This field system must not be seen as a single object, it is part of a much larger field pattern, the 'Shaugh Moor reave system' (Fleming 1988 Fig 30) (SX 56 SE 78). Shaugh Moor is occupied by a variety of prehistoric and later field systems summarised in record SX 56 SE 170.
(This report is to supplement and replace records SX 56 SE 136 and 137)
Centred SX 555630. A series of field systems dating from the prehistoric to the post-medieval occupy some 150 hectares of Shaugh Moor. Four distinct systems are apparent:
The last phase of activity is related to the medieval and later enclosure of parts of the area between Hawk's Tor and the village of Wotter. The corn ditches and well-constructed banks of this phase form a drove road giving access to the open moor flanked by several irregular enclosures. As with areas such as Hound Tor and Holne Moor several phases of expansion and contraction are apparent north of Wotter. Precise dating of this activity is not possible though, again by analogy with other areas of Dartmoor, it would seem likely that the fields were occupied and abandoned several times from the later 12th century until the Napoleonic period. The lazy beds depicted by Collis in the abandoned field opposite the Moorlands Hotel are typical of the 18th and 19th centuries.
For detailed 1:2500 plan and description see ‘Shaugh Moor Survey'.

Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC, 1999-2017, Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs, Next Perspectives APGB Imagery SX5562-SX5563 31-MAY-2016 (Aerial Photograph). SDV363087.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible as earthworks.

Gerrard, S., 2004, List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor (Un-published). SDV345444.

This site was considered for designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument during the Monument Protection Programme. The programme ended before the entire list of sites was successfully scheduled so this is included on a local list of Nationally Important Sites.

NERC, 2013, LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) Tellus: South Devon to Dartmoor, LIDAR SX5562-SX5563 Tellus DTM 01-JUL-2013 to 31-AUG-2013 (Cartographic). SDV361514.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are identifiable as earthworks.

Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R., 2019-2020, The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP) (Interpretation). SDV362982.

Curvilinear banks and ditches are visible on aerial photographs of 1946 and 1964, visualisations derived from lidar data captured in 2013 and digital images derived from aerial photographs of 2016, as earthworks 1.5 to 4.5m wide defining a system of sub-rectilinear fields across approximately 22ha of the west and south-west facing slopes of Wotter Common, between Hawk's Tor and the village of Wotter.
The field system clearly incorporates elements of the regular and rectilinear north-east to south-west aligned Bronze Age parallel reave field system, continued from Shaugh Moor to the north, but subdivided by curvilinear banks and ditches, and bisected in a roughly west to east direction by a bank and ditch defined track.
The somewhat irregular field system is more in keeping with the character of the medieval field pattern to the south of Wotter village, and in places appears to be directly aligned upon it.
The condition of the earthwork banks has been negatively impacted by several phases of later activity. These include:
Medieval or post-medieval stone quarrying concentrated around Hawks’ Tor at circa SX55266246;
Probably post-medieval to 19th-century prospecting or extraction, probably for tin, at circa SX55516236;
The establishment of a Second World War Chain Home radar station to the north-west of Wotter. In this instance the banks can be seen to survive across the area of the temporary camp.
The westernmost part of the field system extends west of the road, north-west of Beatland Cross, up to and including a plot annotated on the Ordnance Survey First Edition 25inch map as ‘Bowling Green’ at circa SX55036250. These boundaries enclose areas of suble ridge and furrow banks recorded separately as MDV25300.

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. Map 48.
SDV144058Article in Serial: Collis, J.. 1983. Field Systems and Boundaries on Shaugh Moor and at Wotter, Dartmoor. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 41. A5 Paperback. 47-54, 61.
SDV147593Article in Serial: Price, D. G.. 1973. Ancient fields on Shaugh Moor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 105. Unknown. 91-2.
SDV147632Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1980. SX56SE136. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV147633Article in Serial: Collis, J.. 1978. Untitled article?. British Archaeological Reports. 48. Unknown. 24-25.
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.
SDV340833Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1190. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3235.
SDV343481Report - Survey: Fletcher, M. + Probert, S.. 1998. Shaugh Moor, Devon: An Archaeological Survey. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Report. Unknown.
SDV345444Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
SDV346681Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1980. NMR SX5562. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper).
SDV361514Cartographic: NERC. 2013. LiDAR DTM data (1m resolution) Tellus: South Devon to Dartmoor. Digital. LIDAR SX5562-SX5563 Tellus DTM 01-JUL-2013 to 31-AUG-2013. [Mapped feature: #122251 ]
SDV362982Interpretation: Hegarty, C., Knight, S. and Sims, R.. 2019-2020. The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping Survey. Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (AI&M, formerly NMP). Historic England Research Report. Digital.
SDV363067Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/106G/UK/1190. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/106G/UK/1190 RP 3256-3258 27-FEB-1946.
SDV363068Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1964. RAF/58/6399. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). RAF/58/6399 F64 0381-0382 02-JUL-1964.
SDV363087Aerial Photograph: Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. 1999-2017. Pan Government Agreement Aerial Photographs. Aerial Photography for Great Britain Aerial Photographs. Digital. Next Perspectives APGB Imagery SX5562-SX5563 31-MAY-2016.
SDV363132Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1980. NMR 1746. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). NMR 1747/238 21-APR-1980.
SDV363333Aerial Photograph: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1977. NMR 1125. NMR Aerial Photograph. NMR 1125/338-343 14-APR-1977.

Associated Monuments

MDV126636Related to: Later prehistoric enclosures east of Collard Tor (Monument)
MDV48883Related to: Radar Station 300 meters south-west of Hawk's Tor (Monument)
MDV126153Related to: Reservoirs and leats north-east of Collard Tor (Monument)
MDV25300Related to: RIDGE AND FURROW in the Parish of Shaugh Prior (Monument)
MDV2590Related to: Shaugh Moor parallel reave field system (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8098 - The South Devon Coast to Dartmoor Aerial Investigation and Mapping (formerly NMP) Survey, Area 2, Avon Valley to Plymouth (Ref: ACD2040)

Date Last Edited:Jan 23 2020 11:44AM