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HER Number:MDV4252
Name:Settlement of prehistoric enclosures and hut circles to the north of Piles Copse, Harford


Enclosure with eight sub-divisions, courts or pens and two hut circles. A number of later structures have been built into these enclosures


Grid Reference:SX 643 626
Map Sheet:SX66SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishHarford
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishHARFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX66SW46
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX66SW/15
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX66SW/151
  • Old SAM County Ref: 813
  • Old SAM Ref: 10521
  • Old SAM Ref: 10521
  • Pastscape: 442312

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ENCLOSED HUT CIRCLE SETTLEMENT (Constructed, Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

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

Group of 'Hut Circles' shown on 19th century map.

National Monuments Record, 1969, NMR SX6463, 3 (Aerial Photograph). SDV165976.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1977, SX66SW46 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV173533.

(20/12/1977) An enclosed settlement on the south slopes of Harford Moor adjacent and parallel to the River Erme.
It is roughly quadrilateral in plan 80.0 metres by 45.0 metres covering 0.36 hectares. Three separate levelled courts or yards occupy the north half; each is of irregular shape and about 15.0 metres internal diameter with tumbled walling 2.0 metres wide and up to 0.8 metres high. The centre yard opens on its east side to a probable hut of 9.0 metres internal diameter, which appears to have a blocked entrance on its east side. Another hut of 5.0 metres diameter adjoins the south side of the court externally. Both are of indeterminate type with walling 2.0 metres wide and 0.6 metres high. A similar hut of 7.0 metres diameter is in the relatively empty south half of the enclosure. Here, also, are two huts, of 2.5 metres and 3.5 metres internal diameter with single slab construction and external coursed or piled walling 2.0 metres wide and 0.5 metres high. One is built into (or more probably originally onto) the enclosure wall.
On all but the north side the enclosure wall is a mass of piled stones, generally 3.0 metres wide and 0.8 metres high, though on the south side it is more tumbled. On the north where the enclosure backs against a steep mass of clitter, there is a revetment wall up to 1.5 metres high, perhaps originally entirely of coursed boulders, most of which have now slipped inwards. There are three entrances, one at the north east, a fine terraced way midpoint along the east side, and a broad gap with out-turning in the west side.
Immediately above the north revetment is a 1.0 metre wide terrace. It is not a natural feature yet only extends to a squarish hut 5.0 metres across and of single slab construction. Apart from three massive boulders the interior is clear of stone. A lynchet in the southern half may indicate plot cultivation and there are faint traces of others to the west of the settlement though the area is heavily obscured by bracken. (See also SX 66 SW 85) (Type 3 huts: SX 67 SE 56).
Evidence of Medieval or later intrusion is provided by tinner's caches within the courtyards (SX 66 SW 86). Surveyed at 1:10 000 on MSD.

Hankin, C. F., 1977-1979, Harford Parish Checklist (Worksheet). SDV149931.

Site visited in July 1977 and 24th April 1978. About 70 metres east of the River Erme on ground rising steeply to the east. There are several clitters on the hillside, and the stony nature of the ground makes the site difficult to interpret. An enclosure of indeterminate shape, c.irca 25-30 metres wide north-south. The north wall stands about 0.9 metres high. The east boundary merges into the rocks of the steeply rising hill. The west is bounded by a steep drop in the ground towards the river. On the south and east within the enclosure there are several small areas, 5 metres-14 metres wide, bounded by the remains of stone walls, the interiors having a platform like nature. Near the north wall, within the enclosure, there is a so called tinners cache, and just outside the south east there is a small rectangular structure of stones 2.1 metres by 1.5 metres outside measurements, placed to form a trough-like cavity within, about 0.5 metres deep. Outside the enclosure to the east at a distance of 20 metres there are two hut circle type of structures, but these have the appearance of levelled platforms surrounded by walls, diameter circa 7 metres. The south wall of one has been removed. The suggestions of a moor path pass round the south-east side of the enclosure coming from the south east in the direction of Sharptor, but this may have been a sheep track. It seems possible that the site was used by tinners at some period, and that shelters may have been built within the enclosure and that hut circles were converted to the same use.

Price, D. G., 1981, A Settlement Site on Harford Moor, 53-57, Figure 1 (Article in Serial). SDV165868.

Settlement on a steep valley side with thin soil cover. Two groups of huts, one with 10 and one with 21 huts, within 150 metres of each other, forming one settlement. The group of 10 has a ring cairn associated with it and another possibly ritual monument. The other group is divided into two elements, with 15 huts and two rectangular structures on the slope, and the remainder on a ledge. The presence of rectangular structures and the trace of a track suggest that the site was used in medieval times, or later, in connection with tinning. The settlement is surprisingly large for a difficult site and could not have been occupied primarily for agricultural purposes because of the difficulty of the position and competition for grazing land. Suggested that external source of subsistence was to offer tin in exchange. Because of the later medieval presence it is hard to establish the existence of a Bronze Age tin industry.

Robinson, R., 1982, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982 (Un-published). SDV345608.

Site visited on 2nd June 1982.

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

Eight hut circles are visible on aerial photographs (five attached) and two small enclosures.

Robinson, R., 1986, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1986 (Un-published). SDV345664.

Site visited on 19th December 1986.

Butler, J., 1993, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Four - The South-East, 48-50, Map 54, Figure 54.9 (Monograph). SDV337765.

'Three Barrows West 2'. Settlement sited between a substantial outcrop and a steep fall to the River Erme. The massive northern boundary wall has been partly lost with occasional glimpses of layered stonework showing careful construction. The interior has been sub-divided into a number of thick walled courts around the edge and some lesser banks including an oval-shaped pound near the centre. A beehive Hut 1 in the north-west corner appears to be a later tinner's feature like the tinner's cache (2) in the outer wall by the main entrance. Three small huts are built into the settlement. Hut 3 of 3.0 metres diameter, Hut 4 of 3.5 metres diameter and Hut 5 of 1 metre diameter. There was probably another Hut 6 slightly to the north-west of the settlement.

Newman, P., 2018, Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet) (Cartographic). SDV361913.

Settlement shown on survey.

Newman, P., 2018, The Upper Erme Valley, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: An Archaeological Survey, Appendix 1 - MDV 19978 (Report - Survey). SDV362921.

A prehistoric enclosure on the eastern lower slopes of the River Erme, 300 metres north of Piles Copse. The enclosure is an approximate oval, covering 4 hectares with eight sub-divisions, courts or pens and two hut circles. The southern boundary of the enclosure was built onto the lip of a scarp and has now partly spread down the slope. The northern boundary is built into the base of a steep, rocky drop within a patch of clitter. The walls consist of clitter which has been manually organised into linear piles to form a crude revetment. Four interior pens or bays have been constructed against this outer wall, also formed by simple linear boulder piles. Four additional small interior enclosures have been constructed in a more conventional method using boulders to form coursed wall, though these are now very much tumbled and spread into the slope with a turf covering in places. Two adjacent hut circles are built into the walls of the southernmost enclosure. Both are poorly preserved, though they contain some in-situ boulders, and have approximate internal diameters of 4 metres. A number of later structures have been built into these enclosures (see separate entries MDV13230; 13232; 13233). This area of the Erme Valley is affected by a dense covering of bracken in the summer months, totally obscuring these remains.

Ordnance Survey, 2020, MasterMap 2020 (Cartographic). SDV363413.

Settlement shown on modern mapping.

Historic England, 2020, National Heritage List for England, 1012765 (National Heritage List for England). SDV363414.

This unenclosed stone hut settlement on the steep eastern slope of the Erme Valley, consists of twenty-two hut circles, with enclosures and lengths of bank. The huts are terraced into the hillside and lie in two main groups, ranging in size from 5 to 11 metres with walls up to 3 metres thick and 1 metre high, there are small enclosures and sections of wall or bank associated with the huts.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149931Worksheet: Hankin, C. F.. 1977-1979. Harford Parish Checklist. Parish Checklist. Digital.
SDV165868Article in Serial: Price, D. G.. 1981. A Settlement Site on Harford Moor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 113. 53-57, Figure 1.
SDV165976Aerial Photograph: National Monuments Record. 1969. NMR SX6463. National Monuments Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 3.
SDV173533Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1977. SX66SW46. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. 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.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337765Monograph: Butler, J.. 1993. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Four - The South-East. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Four - The South-East. Four. Paperback Volume. 48-50, Map 54, Figure 54.9.
SDV345608Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1982. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV345664Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1986. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1986. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV361913Cartographic: Newman, P.. 2018. Erme Valley Survey data (GIS and Excel spreadsheet). GIS ShapeFile. Digital. [Mapped feature: #123983 ]
SDV363413Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap 2020. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV363414National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2020. National Heritage List for England. Digital. 1012765.

Associated Monuments

MDV13230Parent of: Beehive hut in enclosure north of Piles Copse, Harford (Monument)
MDV129448Parent of: Hut circle within prehistoric settlement to the north of Piles Copse, Harford (Monument)
MDV129449Parent of: Hut circle within prehistoric settlement to the north of Piles Copse, Harford (Monument)
MDV13231Parent of: Unlikely tinner's cache at enclosure north of Piles Copse (Monument)
MDV127461Related to: Central enclosure within prehistoric hut circle settlement east of the River Erme, Harford (Monument)
MDV127462Related to: Eastern enclosure within prehistoric hut circle settlement east of the River Erme, Harford (Monument)
MDV4289Related to: Field system of adjoining and isolated enclosures east of River Erme, Harford (Monument)
MDV127455Related to: Hut circle between two prehistoric settlements, Harford (Monument)
MDV127456Related to: Hut circle to the west of an unenclosed hut circle settlement, Harford (Monument)
MDV127457Related to: Hut circle to west of unenclosed prehistoric hut settlement, Harford (Monument)
MDV123440Related to: Pair of huts associated with a prehistoric enclosure to the south, Harford (Monument)
MDV13232Related to: Possible tinners' cache built into the wall of enclosure north of Piles Copse (Monument)
MDV4288Related to: Prehistoric hut circle settlement east of the River Erme, Harford (Monument)
MDV4286Related to: Unenclosed prehistoric hut circle settlement on Harford Moor, Harford (Monument)
MDV127460Related to: Western enclosure within prehistoric hut circle settlement east of the River Erme, Harford (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8082 - Survey of the Upper Erme Valley

Date Last Edited:Dec 6 2020 11:09AM