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HER Number:MDV4101
Name:White Tor Camp, Peter Tavy


White Tor Camp of 0.8 hectares with double walls of 3.0 to 3.5 metres wide at the base and originally 1.5 to 2 metres high. Also known as Whittor or White Tor Fort. Entrance in the north-east. The Dartmoor Exploration Committee excavated eight 'huts' in and around the camp in the late 19th century, these are a collection of huts, cairns and rock shelters.


Grid Reference:SX 542 786
Map Sheet:SX57NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishPeter Tavy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishPETER TAVY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX57NW8
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 439744
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NW/1
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NW/1/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 363

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • TOR ENCLOSURE (Constructed, Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC (Between) to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Camp (Remains of)' with a double enclosure wall shown on 19th century map with a 'Barrow' in the south-west corner.

Brent, F., 1883, On a group of prehistoric remains on Dartmoor, 220 (Article in Serial). SDV273189.

Prowse, A. B., 1889, Notes on the Neighbourhood of White Tor, West Dartmoor, 166 (Article in Serial). SDV228366.

Baring Gould, S., 1899, Sixth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, 146-9 pl. (Article in Serial). SDV344950.

A camp on the summit of White Tor formed by a double wall, now in ruinous condition. Both walls appear to have been 10 to 11 feet thick, the outer wall being 4 to 4 1/2 feet high, the inner 6 to 7 feet high. The distance between the walls varies between 10 and 40 feet. The entrances are to the east, where access is easier, they are not opposite and are protected by the spur walls.
Within the camp are four hut circles and three possible hut shelters, and two northern circles (numbers 5 and 6 on plan) are joined by a short wall.
Finds inside the camp have included a flint scraper and core, flakes and chips, some burnt, also pottery sherds of cooking vessel type.

Baring Gould, S., 1900, A Book of Dartmoor, 97-100, Plan (Monograph). SDV277387.

The summit of Whit Tor is surrounded by a ruinous double wall. The circumference is broken up by masses of protruding rocks and within the camp heaps of small stones had been piled up, forming cairns which showed no tokens of structural erection. Within the area of the camp are a few hut circles from which pottery, flint chips, a flint scraper and a flint core were recovered.

Anderson, I. K., 1906, 11th Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee (Article in Serial). SDV337055.

Burnard, R., 1906, Early Man, 365 (Article in Monograph). SDV322231.

Allcroft, A. H., 1908, Earthwork of England, 178-9 (Monograph). SDV11975.

Curwen, E. C., 1930, Neolithic Camps, 46 (Article in Serial). SDV228377.

Pilkington-Rogers, C. W, 1932, The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities, 380,385,388 map (Article in Serial). SDV149513.

Possibly an example of a hill-fort built in the late Bronze Age.

Brailsford, J. W., 1938, Bronze Age Stone Monuments of Dartmoor, 457 (Article in Serial). SDV304210.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1950-1953, SX57NW8, SX57NW8 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV228380.

White Tor Camp (Whittor) on Cudlippton Down. Summit of tor surrounded by a double wall of roughly piled small stones, ruinous. Stones from the walls are scattered over a fairly large area. Enclosed area and circumference broken up by protruding masses of rocks, about which heaps of small stones have been piled forming cairns. Entrance to the camp from north-east.
Eight hut circles contained within the camp, others outside on slopes of hill. A trackline leads up from the south to the camp. Early Iron age. Three Bronze Age cairns - all overturned.
No huts, but three Bronze Age Cairns (A. Fox 1953).

Ordnance Survey, 1953?, Scale plan of White Tor (Whittor) Camp (Plan - measured). SDV228374.

Photocopies of scale plans, date unconfirmed.

Royal Air Force, 1964, 58/6399, f65 0041-42 (Aerial Photograph). SDV225273.

Cambridge University Collection, 1969, BAD 14, 14 (Aerial Photograph). SDV228372.

English Heritage, 1969-1989, English Heritage Records Office SAM Record (Un-published). SDV349864.

White Tor Camp, Cudliptown Down. Full survey 1978 (Quinnell, N. V.), partial excavation 1899 (Baring-Gould, S.). Visited 1981, 1983, 1986, 1988.
A small contour fort of early Iron Age type, defended by two lines of stone ramparts linking natural outcrops on White Tor. The lines are 3.04 - 10.6 metres apart and measures 20 (sic) overall. The entrance is from the north-east. There are three Bronze Age cairns; the interior, all turned over. Condition poor; the ramparts are ruinous. The site is of importance as there are so few early Iron Age forts on Dartmoor (AM7 text, 1978).
This site is as described in 1981. Outside the outer rampart there are hut circles and signs of walls of small enclosures, on the west and north sides. Centre of the camp is fairly flat (1981).
The summit of White Tor is defended by a wall of loosly piled stones. In some areas this is double, and in places large natural boulders are incorporated. On the east side the double wall encloses a corridoor about 10 metres wide. The entire area is very stony and difficult to assess but has recently been surveyed at 1:1000 by Quinnell (1978). There are several very doubtful cleared hut platforms (poresumably those excavaterd by Baring Gould (1900). In the centre, stones are piled against two rock outcriops forming an 'embellished tor', and the same thing occurs with one tor incorporated in the course of the wall on the south side. All three hollow centreed as though stones had been dug away from the 'core' rock, but cannot definitely be described as cairns. An enigmatic site (1983)
No change (1986).
No change (1988).

National Monument Record, 1977, SX5478, 2/232-3 (Aerial Photograph). SDV228382.

Silvester, R. J., 1979, The Relationship of First Millennium Settlement to the Upland Areas of the South West, 176-190,figs.1-5 (Article in Serial). SDV177352.

Silvester considers that Whittor hillfort could more appositely be called a "tor-enclosure". The two walls which surround the tor nowhere exceed 1 metre in height. Within rubble walls are a number of roughly circular stoneless patches which may represent hut platforms.

Hemery, E., 1983, High Dartmoor, 955 (Monograph). SDV249702.

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

Visible on aerial photographs (1964, 1969, 1977) and recorded on map overlay.

Griffith, F., 1986, White Tor Camp, 24/8/1986 (Personal Comment). SDV228383.

In recent years a Neolithic date has sometimes been suggested for this site (of carn brea). In some ways it does not conform easily as an Iron Age site, the defences being slight and close set.

Newman, P., 2003, The Langstone Moor Stone Circle, Peter Tavy, Devon and its Prehistoric Environs, 11, 19, appendix vi (Report - Survey). SDV255420.

Previously thought to have been an Iron Age 'camp' by early investigators, the stone enclosure on Whittor is now thought to be a Neolithic tor enclosure. Not part of this survey but Royal Commission earthwork plan of 'Whittor' Neolithic enclosure included as an appendix.

Unknown, 2004?, Unattributed source (Unattributed Sites and Monuments Register Entry). SDV228363.

Celtic "Mwy bwr" - greater entrenchment or camp.
May be "Mewyburghe" marked on the Perambulation of 1240 (unattributed - Rowe?).
The cairns within have been much disturbed and some stone appears to have been heaped on them very recently. However, in places the original top of a cairn can be seen: there appear to be rather more cairns here than recorded, and most are either for cairns or ring cairns centred on in situ rocks or tors (nb at time of visit had no record of which cairns recorded).

Davies, S. R., 2010, The Early Neolithic Tor Enclosures of Southwest Britain (Post-Graduate Thesis). SDV360199.

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

Visible on aerial photograph.

National Monument Record, 2017, Pastscape, 1978 Ordnance Survey data (Website). SDV359964.

The summit of White Tor (Whittor) is a flat area of 0.75 hectares at 460 metres O.D., covered with clitter and rock outcrops. The ground shelves gently to east and west; to the north and south it progressed by way of widely spaced natural terraces with steps up to 4.0 metres high and 20.0 metres wide.
The 'fortification' encloses the summit with a double rampart of small stones, utilizing natural outcrops, boulders and two cairns on the perimeter. On the north and south sides the crest of the slope to the first terrace is followed by the inner rampart, but tumble within the restricted space has resulted in merging so that, superficially, a slope 10.0 metres wide and 3.0 metres high appears to be a continuous spread of rubble. There are no natural constrictions on the east and west sides but each is set out differently. On the east, facing the hinterland of the moor each wall is about 5.0 metres wide and 0.5 metres high at the centre. There is an interspace from 6.0 to 13.0 metres wide with two sub-divisions. At SX 54347864 there is a gap 1.0 metre wide through the outer rampart, with a single short out-turn on its southern side. This appears to be an original entrance. The inner rampart has two gaps between outcropping rocks, both of which seem original. On the west side of the fort the walling is more frugal, from 2.5 metres to 6.0 metres wide and from 0.3 metres to 0.5 metres high. The interspace is generally less than 2.0 metres, with an exceptional 7.0 metres at the south-west, covered with large boulders. There is a well-defined simple entrance at SX 54227865, 1.5 metres wide.
Notwithstanding the amount of stone taken to construct cairns and ramparts, the interior is littered with embedded clitter.
Evidence of occupation/habitation takes several forms. Localized clearance is suggested by some irregular patches of about 50.0 square metres, with relatively few stones, and there is one length of low, piled, walling (G). There are five circular depressions within the enclosed area (A - E), and one outside at SX 54207861 (F).
All are 0.2 metres deep with diameters from 3.0 - 5.0 metres, often edged with small stones which protrude from the turf. Their type is indeterminate, with no clear entrances.
Two enigmatic features (II and III), which could have been either huts or cairns. There are three type 1 huts on the north side. Two (V and VI) at SX 54257867 and SX 54257868 were excavated in 1898 (see Baring-Gould, 1899). The former revealed a 'cooking hole' and charcoal. It is set between the ramparts, a depression 0.4 metres deep with an internal diameter of 2.0 metres surrounded by small stones. The other, which produced nothing when excavated, it set out from the lower rampart but joined to it by spread walling. This appears to have been robbed from the original rampart course resulting in a gap immediately to the east leading to an inter-mural area some 5.0 metres square. The hut consists of a wall of pile stones 1.6 metres thick and 0.5 metres high with no clear entrance; the internal diameter is now 2.0 metres.
The White Tor site is unique to Devon, but of the many clitter covered tors this is probably the only one with a flat top and adaptable to defensive purposes. Though at first sight impressive the 1898 suggestion that the walls were over three metres thick and 2.0 metres high cannot be sustained by the visual evidence. For most of the vulnerable east and west sides the volume of stone would barely create field walls of modern type and size, say 1.7 metres high and 0.6 metres thick. On the north and south sides where the slopes are already scree covered it is difficult to judge the amount of additional material.
At SX 54347866 there is a single face of three course walling 4.0 metres long. This may be modern (there are four shelters in the vicinity) but if not it is the only evidence of coursing. Taken as a whole the erratic plan, with bi-vallation occasionally merging to form a single scarp; the weak defence on east and west and particularly around the entrances, is unlike a normal Iron Age hillfort. Though neither as large in area nor as erratic in plan, White Tor bears comparison with the defended settlement at Rough Tor on Bodmin Moor. Both enclose and utilize cairns which are nevertheless respected; both have demarcated rather than defended entrances; both have shallow hut scoops and a few larger (and later?) well-constructed huts with nearby but probably not contemporary settlements and reave systems.
In sum, White Tor may be placed in the second rather than the first Millenium B.C.
Surveyed at 1:10 000 on P.F.D. with 1:1000 scale survey on Illustration Card. (citing Quinnell, N. V., Ordnance Survey, 27/10/1978).

Newman, P., 2018, Archaeological Sites within Merrivale Training Area, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: A condition survey on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation, 11/01/2018 (Report - Survey). SDV361635.

A Neolithic enclosure on Whittor. Low stony ramparts enclosing the upper plateau of the tor between the outcrops. Condition is good and stable.

Ordnance Survey, 2022, Mastermap 2022 (Cartographic). SDV364674.

'Fort' with double walls and an entrance to the north shown on modern mapping.

Historic England, 2022, National Heritage List for England, 1004584 (National Heritage List for England). SDV364675.

White Tor Camp, Cudlipptown Down.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV11975Monograph: Allcroft, A. H.. 1908. Earthwork of England. Earthwork of England. Unknown. 178-9.
SDV149513Article in Serial: Pilkington-Rogers, C. W. 1932. The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 64. A5 Hardback. 380,385,388 map.
SDV177352Article in Serial: Silvester, R. J.. 1979. The Relationship of First Millennium Settlement to the Upland Areas of the South West. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 37. Paperback Volume. 176-190,figs.1-5.
SDV225273Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1964. 58/6399. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. f65 0041-42.
SDV228363Unattributed Sites and Monuments Register Entry: Unknown. 2004?. Unattributed source. Unknown.
SDV228366Article in Serial: Prowse, A. B.. 1889. Notes on the Neighbourhood of White Tor, West Dartmoor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 21. Digital. 166.
SDV228372Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection. 1969. BAD 14. Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs. Photograph (Paper). 14.
SDV228374Plan - measured: Ordnance Survey. 1953?. Scale plan of White Tor (Whittor) Camp. 1:1000. Digital.
SDV228377Article in Serial: Curwen, E. C.. 1930. Neolithic Camps. Antiquity. 4. Unknown. 46.
SDV228380Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1950-1953. SX57NW8. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index. SX57NW8.
SDV228382Aerial Photograph: National Monument Record. 1977. SX5478. National Monument Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2/232-3.
SDV228383Personal Comment: Griffith, F.. 1986. White Tor Camp. Worksheet. Not Applicable. 24/8/1986.
SDV249702Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1983. High Dartmoor. High Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 955.
SDV255420Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2003. The Langstone Moor Stone Circle, Peter Tavy, Devon and its Prehistoric Environs. English Heritage Archaeological Investigation Report. 25. A4 Comb Bound. 11, 19, appendix vi.
SDV273189Article in Serial: Brent, F.. 1883. On a group of prehistoric remains on Dartmoor. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 39. 220.
SDV277387Monograph: Baring Gould, S.. 1900. A Book of Dartmoor. A Book of Dartmoor. Unknown. 97-100, Plan.
SDV304210Article in Serial: Brailsford, J. W.. 1938. Bronze Age Stone Monuments of Dartmoor. Antiquity. 12, Issue 48. Digital. 457.
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.
SDV322231Article in Monograph: Burnard, R.. 1906. Early Man. Victoria History of the County of Devon. 1. A4 Hardback. 365.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337055Article in Serial: Anderson, I. K.. 1906. 11th Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 38. A5 Hardback.
SDV344950Article in Serial: Baring Gould, S.. 1899. Sixth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 31. Digital. 146-9 pl..
SDV349864Un-published: English Heritage. 1969-1989. English Heritage Records Office SAM Record. English Heritage. A4 Spiral Bound.
SDV359964Website: National Monument Record. 2017. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. 1978 Ordnance Survey data.
SDV360199Post-Graduate Thesis: Davies, S. R.. 2010. The Early Neolithic Tor Enclosures of Southwest Britain. University of Birmingham. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.
SDV361462Aerial Photograph: Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. 2015-2017. 2015-2017 Aerial Photographs. Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. Photograph (Digital). [Mapped feature: #113237 ]
SDV361635Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2018. Archaeological Sites within Merrivale Training Area, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: A condition survey on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation. South-west Landscape Investigations. A4 Comb Bound. 11/01/2018.
SDV364674Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2022. Mastermap 2022. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV364675National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2022. National Heritage List for England. Digital. 1004584.

Associated Monuments

MDV56580Related to: Boundary in settlement south-west of White Tor, Peter Tavy (Monument)
MDV56589Related to: Features in and around the enclosure on White Tor, Peter Tavy (Monument)
MDV4113Related to: Great Western Reave at White Tor (Monument)
MDV47624Related to: Hut circle north of White Tor Camp, Peter Tavy (Monument)
MDV133707Related to: Hut circle to the west of White Tor Camp, Peter Tavy (Monument)
MDV47622Related to: Hut circle within enclosure north of White Tor Camp, Peter Tavy (Monument)
MDV4147Related to: Large tor cairn on White Tor, Peter Tavy (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV6866 - Charcoal (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC)
  • FDV5858 - LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC? to 701 BC)
  • FDV5859 - SHERD (Early Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 2200 BC to 42 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV7441 - Condition survey of the archaeological sites of Merrivale Training Area
  • EDV7570 - Condition survey of Merrivale Range training area
  • EDV8418 - Excavation White Tor Camp
  • EDV8713 - Merrivale Range: Monument Baseline Condition Survey
  • EDV8419 - Excavation of cairn at White Tor Camp

Date Last Edited:Dec 18 2022 10:13AM