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HER Number:MDV3438
Name:Embanked stone circle, Willimgs Wall Reave

Summary

Remains of a near circular structure, formed by an earthen bank averaging 3.0m wide and from 0.1m to 0.2m high, with two distinctly straight lengths in the south-west and south east quadrants. The internal diameter north-south is 39m and east-west 41m. Part of the eastern quadrant is destroyed or obscured by the Willings Walls reave which has evidently been aligned towards it. Four groups of stones are set at irregular intervals on the bank. It is most improbable that the stones are the remains of robbed cists, but the monument as a whole is unique. The interior is flat and featureless.
Two possible classifications. One, and the least convincing, is that of an enclosure totally stripped of all manageable stone. The second, and more likely, is that it is some form of "ringery" possibly an embanked stone circle with inner and outer facing pairs.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 581 651
Map Sheet:SX56NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishShaugh Prior
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSHAUGH PRIOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX 56 NE 77
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56NE/133
  • Old SAM Ref Revised: 24231
  • Old SAM Ref: 10644
  • Pastscape: 438720

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • (Former Type) RING CAIRN (Constructed, Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC (Between))
  • EMBANKED STONE CIRCLE (Constructed, Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162465.

Fleming, a. + collis, j. + jones, r. L. /pdas/31(1973)4/a late prehistoric reave system near cholwich town.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162466.

Des=ancient monuments.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162467.

Turner, j. R. /pdas/48(1990)32 66/ring cairns, stone circles and related monuments on dartmoor/a1.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162468.

Balaam, n. , + smith, k. , + wainwright, g. /pps/48(1982)255.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162469.

Worth, r. H. /dartmoor/(1981)261-4.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162470.

Burl, a. /the stone circles of the british isles/(1976)107,345.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162471.

Butler, j. /dartmoor atlas of antiquities - the south west/3(1994)map 51.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162472.

English heritage/willings walls contour reave and connected hut circle etc/(1991).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162473.

Des=central excavation unit/plym valley survey/()/site 424.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162474.

Gerrard, s. /english heritage book of dartmoor/(forthcoming, 1997).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162476.

Pdas/31(1973)4.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Untitled Source (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV24.

Vis=1/6/1950 (os) a very unusual stone circle diameter 42m. It consists of four groups of stone as described by worth, reaching a height of 0.6m. No barrow or cairn is visible (os).

Balaam, N. D. et al, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV260479.

Crude circle c 42m diam created by four stone settings and a possible fifth. Willings walls reave changes direction here, suggesting that the circle pre-dates it (balaam et al).

FLEMING ET AL, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV138555.

The reave is known as willings walls reave (fleming et al).

NMR CITING OS, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162456.

Four groups of stones are set at irregular intervals on the bank and there may be at least one other group which was an alignment point for the reave. They are in groups of 3 to 5, generally from 0.3 to 0.7m high, with lesser ones which may be trigging stones. They are as in worth's plan, with a tendency for slabs to be set across the line of the bank. At each group the bank has been obliterated and this seems not an original feature but the result of animals, particularly sheep, using the stones as rubbing posts; the depressions around some stones are now 0.2m deep. The 4m gap in the bank in the nw quadrant appears to be a similar depredation. It is most improbable that the stones are the remains of robbed cists, but the monument as a whole is unique. The interior is flat and featureless and while there could have been stone robbing to supply the reave there is no evidence to sustain this. The reave is 3.5m wide and from 0.4m to 0.6m high, containing the usual mixture of easily gathered small stones with a few larger slabs and blocks. But whereas the area to the w of the reave is relatively stone free there is an abundant supply to the e where the ground slopes upwards. These seem 2 possible classifications. One, and the least convincing, is that of an enclosure totally stripped of all manageable stone. The second, and more likely, is that it is some form of "ringery" possibly an embanked stone circle with inner and outer facing pairs.(the only other embanked circle, on ringmoor down, probably had single close spaced stones). Since it would be reasonable to suppose the stones would be of comparable size, and very few of this nature are in the reave, it may be the original disposition was of 4 to 6 groups. The anomaly in the ne, where 4 flat stones are embedded at intervals, could represent a demolished group (nmr citing os).

AM, Untitled Source (Report - Survey). SDV162458.

Vis=estimated -/-/1991 (ancient monuments). Enclosure at 40 degree dog-leg in willings walls reave (am).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV162463.

Worth, r. H. /tda/74(1942)207-210 pl.10,11 fig.1,2/a stone circle in the plym valley.

Turner, J. R., Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV37204.

Turner identifies this site as a large ring cairn, the largest on dartmoor. Stone ring 41m diam, with bank 1m wide and 0.2m high. Four groups of stones around a ruined bank. On a n facing hillslope (turner).

WORTH, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV6808.

Willings walls warren, lee moor. Unusual stone circle. Two kists nearby. Plan. A reave interferes with the circumference of the circle. Four groups of stones are in the circle. No trace of barrow within the circle; and no evidence to show that the stones were ever cists (worth).

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1980, SX56NE77 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV162464.

(19/08/1980) Situated on a stone free shelf at 330m. OD are the remains of a near circular structure.
It is formed by an earthen bank averaging 3.0m wide and from 0.1m to 0.2m high, with two distinctly straight lengths in the south-west and south east quadrants. The internal diameter north to south is 39.0m and east to west 41.0m. Part of the eastern quadrant is destroyed or obscured by the Willings Walls reave which has evidently been aligned towards it (SX 56 NE 123).
Four groups of stones are set at irregular intervals on the bank and there may at least one other group which was an alignment point for the reave. They are in groups of from three to five, generally from 0.3 to 0.7m high, with lesser ones which may be trigging stones. They are as in Worth's plan, with a tendency for slabs to be set across the line of the bank. At each group the bank has been obliterated and this seems not an original feature but the result of animals, particularly sheep, using the stones as rubbing posts; the depressions around some stones are now 0.2m deep. The 4.0m gap in the bank in the north-west quadrant appears to be a similar depradation.
It is most improbable that the stones are the remains of robbed cists, but the monument as a whole is unique.
The interior is flat and featureless and while there could have been stone robbing to supply the reave there is no evidence to sustain this. The reave is 3.5m wide and from 0.4m to 0.6m high, containing the usual mixture of easily gathered small stones with a few larger slabs and blocks. But whereas the area to the west of the reave is relatively stone free there is an abundant supply to the east where the ground slopes upwards.
These seem two possible classifications. One, and the least convincing, is that of an enclosure totally stripped of all manageable stone. The second, and more likely, is that it is some form of "ringery" possibly an embanked stone circle with inner and outer facing pairs. (The only other embanked circle, on Ringmoor Down, probably had single close spaced stones SX 56 NE 161). Since it would be reasonable to suppose the stones would be of comparable size, and very few of this nature are in the reave it may be the original disposition was of four to six groups. The anomoly in the north-east, where four flat stones are embedded at intervals, could represent a demolished group.
Surveyed at 1:10 000 on MSD and at 1:500.

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

Not visible on the 1946 Royal Air Force vertical aerial photographs used in the project.

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 140757 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

15/04/1995 (SX 5817 6516). Ring cairn adjacent to and partly under the Willings Walls Reave. Cairn is internally kerbed (type 2A) and survives as 1m wide bank standing up to 0.2m high surrounding a 41m diameter internal area. At four places around the inner edge of the bank are clusters of irregular boulders and these represent the remains of an internal kerb. In the past these stones have been seen as the remains of cists, but as none of the stones are straight edged this explanation seems unlikely. More frequently this site has been described as a stone circle, but the presence of the associated earthwork bank makes this interpretation incomplete. According to Butler and Scheduled Ancient Monument documentation relating to SAM 10644 this site is an enclosure. Whilst this interpretation is possible and certainly fits the surviving evidence it seems more likely given its precise circular character that it is a ring cairn as suggested by Turner and the NAR.
The Willings Walls Reave passes through the ring cairn and significantly changes alignment within its vicinity. It has been suggested by the Central Excavation Unit that the reave builders used this item as a landmark when laying out their land division. If so this would certainly mean that the cairn was earlier than the reave and may have been an earlier territorial marker which was confirmed by the construction of the reave.

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

(05/03/2002) Centred SX 5818 6518. This somewhat enigmatic feature remains as described by the Ordnance Survey in 1980. Its interpretation as an embanked stone circle appears to be the most fitting.

Various, 2018-2020, PALs Condition Recording forms (Worksheet). SDV362781.

(11/03/2020) Condition assessed as good; some vegetation encroachment.

Various, 2018-2020, PALs Condition Recording photographs (Photograph). SDV363073.

Images taken during March 2020 visit.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV138555Migrated Record: FLEMING ET AL.
SDV162456Migrated Record: NMR CITING OS.
SDV162458Report - Survey: AM.
SDV162463Migrated Record:
SDV162464Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1980. SX56NE77. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV162465Migrated Record:
SDV162466Migrated Record:
SDV162467Migrated Record:
SDV162468Migrated Record:
SDV162469Migrated Record:
SDV162470Migrated Record:
SDV162471Migrated Record:
SDV162472Migrated Record:
SDV162473Migrated Record:
SDV162474Migrated Record:
SDV162476Migrated Record:
SDV24Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. OSA. Card Index.
SDV260479Migrated Record: Balaam, N. D. et al.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 140757.
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.
SDV362781Worksheet: Various. 2018-2020. PALs Condition Recording forms. PALs Condition Assessment Project Forms. Digital.
SDV363073Photograph: Various. 2018-2020. PALs Condition Recording photographs. PALs Condition Assessment Project Forms. Digital.
SDV37204Migrated Record: Turner, J. R..
SDV6808Migrated Record: WORTH.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

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

Date Last Edited:Nov 11 2020 9:54AM