HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
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:MDV4009
Name:Whitten Knowles deserted Medieval settlement


A sub-divided longhouse and three ancillary buildings lie within a number of reused prehistoric enclosures at Whittenknowles Rocks. Longhouse measures 28 metres and is divided into four sections. Two buildings lie to the south; one is bisected by the leat and a third lies to the north.


Grid Reference:SX 586 669
Map Sheet:SX56NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishSheepstor
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishSHEEPSTOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX 56 NE 112
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX56NE/231

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • DESERTED SETTLEMENT (Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1750 AD (Between))
  • LONGHOUSE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Crossing, W., 1912 (1965), Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, 436 (Monograph). SDV320981.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1950, SX56NE49 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV216718.

Linehan, C. D., 1965, Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon, 175 (Article in Serial). SDV217992.

Whitton Knowles. Three buildings in enclosures which include hut circles.

Haynes, R. G., 1966-1969, Ruined Sites on Dartmoor, 153, 19/6/1966 (Un-published). SDV150434.

Whitten Knowles. A longhouse of three rooms with a fourth added. In a prehistoric pound containing about 40 hut circles. Some suggestion of a porch and two outbuildings with enclosures. Other enclosures also contemporary with farm.

National Monuments Record, 1976, NMR SX5867, 2/140, 187 (Aerial Photograph). SDV250106.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1979, SX56NE112 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV216765.

SX 58645700. On the south-east slope of Whitten Knowles Rocks at 328.0m OD are the remains of a Medieval settlement, lying within an extensive prehistoric settlement. One long house type building in the group has tumbled drystone walling 0.8m thick and 0.7m high with a porch at its west entrance It is a sub-divided house 28.5m by 3.8m internally.
Ancillary buildings are of similar construction although they have varying dimensions. The lengths range from 7.0m to 12.5m and the widths from 2.5m to 4.0m. The general condition is poor and the
southernmost building is cut by a leat. Three of the buildings to the north are in very poor condition as if the stone was robbed for other structures. No fields are visible though the prehistoric plots may have been utilised. Certainly, the prehistoric enclosure walls have been strengthened in places.
Surveyed at 1:10 000 on PFD
For a possibly associated building close by see SX 56 NE 151.

Price, D. G., 1980, The Moorland Plym, 86, 88-9, fig 2c (Article in Serial). SDV254604.

Dwelling with enclosed yard containing outbuildings but no associated field system. Presume pastoral farming here.

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

Two rectangular buildings are visible on the aerial photographs.

Probert, S. A. J., 1999, Whittenknowles Rocks (Report - Survey). SDV216768.

Centred SX 58646702. A sub-divided longhouse and three ancillary buildings lie within a number of reused prehistoric enclosures at Whittenknowles Rocks, a S facing hillside some 600 metres north of Ditsworthy Warren House.
The longhouse, centred SX58656701, oriented east to west, measures 28 metres long internally and is divided into four compartments 7.9 metres, 7.9 metres, 3.1 metres and 6.2 metres long from east to west by 3.7 metres wide. The lower, east end, of the building resembles a cross-passage type longhouse with an entrance possessing traces of a porch positioned centrally in the south wall. The two smaller rooms taper in width from 3.7 metres to 2.7 metres and do not display obvious entrances. The building is cut into the gently sloping hillside to provide level floors which lie slightly below the surrounding ground level. Several courses of unshaped boulders form the main walls which measure around 1.2 metres wide and stand a maximum of 0.8 metres high. The sub-dividing walls are lesser in stature, usually around 0.4 metres high. It would appear the two smaller rooms, on the west end, are later additions.
Some 13 metres to the south-west of the main building is a single-roomed structure measuring 12.0 metres by 3.3 metres internally and again oriented roughly east to west. It possesses two staggered entrances in the long walls and is constructed of coursed boulder walls 1.0 metres wide and 0.7 metres high. It too has been terraced into the slope.
At SX58656705, 36 metres to the north of the main building lies a third rectangular structure. Again possessing only a single room it measures 6.7 metres north-east to south-west by 3.1 metres with a possible entrance in the long wall near the east corner. The walls of this structure are a mixture of large earth fast blocks and coursed boulders. Adjoining the north-west wall is a small annex 4.5 metres by 1.4 metres internally and open to the south-west.
A two-roomed structure depicted by Ordnance Survey in 1979 to the north of this building is a stone-filled hollow of natural origin.
Some 72 metres south-west of the main complex are the remains of a further structure which have been bisected by a recently refurbished leat. The remains suggest a rectangular structure roughly 7.0 metres north-west to south-east by 2.2 metres with boulder walls 1.2 metres wide and 1.0 metres high. There is no obvious entrance and no discernible internal detail.
The buildings form the nucleus of a small medieval settlement that reuses and extends a prehistoric enclosure (MDV3995). Most of the prehistoric hut circles within this enclosure have been used as repositories for stones resulting from medieval clearance. The enclosure appears to have been sub-divided into a number of small plots during the prehistoric period which seem to have been cleared for cultivation in this later period. In addition, several cornditch-type boundaries extend the original enclosure in a series of lobes on the south and south-west margins.
This settlement is one of perhaps a dozen which appear to have been `planted' in the Plym Valley during the medieval period and which failed to thrive.

White, P., 2013, Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads (Un-published). SDV352501.

Included in list. No further information provided.

Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Buildings are shown on the modern mapping, including one to the north, which English Heritage have stated (1999) is not part of the settlement, but rather a stone-filled hollow.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV150434Un-published: Haynes, R. G.. 1966-1969. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Ruined Sites on Dartmoor. Manuscript + Digital. 153, 19/6/1966.
SDV216718Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1950. SX56NE49. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV216765Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1979. SX56NE112. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV216768Report - Survey: Probert, S. A. J.. 1999. Whittenknowles Rocks. English Heritage Archaeological Investigation Report. Unknown.
SDV217992Article in Serial: Linehan, C. D.. 1965. Deserted Sites on Dartmoor, Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 97. A5 Hardback. 175.
SDV250106Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1976. NMR SX5867. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2/140, 187.
SDV254604Article in Serial: Price, D. G.. 1980. The Moorland Plym. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 112. 86, 88-9, fig 2c.
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.
SDV320981Monograph: Crossing, W.. 1912 (1965). Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor. Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 436.
SDV352501Un-published: White, P.. 2013. Previously Unsurveyed Dartmoor Historic Farmsteads. Excel Spreadsheet.
SDV359352Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped features: #90586 ; #90587 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV56209Related to: Building north of Whitten Knowles settlement, Sheepstor (Building)
MDV25086Related to: Longstone Leat, Sheepstor (Monument)
MDV3995Related to: Prehistoric Hut Circle Settlement, Whitten Knowles Rocks, Sheepstor (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7443 - Condition survey of archaeological sites in Ringmoor Training Area
  • EDV7569 - Condition survey of Ringmoor Down training area

Date Last Edited:Jul 8 2019 9:30AM