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HER Number:MDV52783
Name:Stone mounds in settlement east of Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor Forest


Seven stone mounds, five in a group centred at SX 61377710 and two isolated to the north. All lie within an extensive prehistoric settlement. Have previously been suggested to be burial cairns or clearance mounds. Fieldwork survey in 1989 suggested the former was unlikely but possibly they may relate to clearance. Also possible that some of the cairns are circular pillow mounds. Identification as 'cairn circles' appears to be mis-identification of huts in the surrounding settlement.


Grid Reference:SX 613 770
Map Sheet:SX67NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX67NW164
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 875192
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67NW/63/1
  • Old SAM Ref: 34451

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MOUND (Constructed, Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD (Between) to 1901 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978, SX67NW72, SX67NW72 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV254256.

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

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1987-1993, Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit, P. Pattison (Report - Survey). SDV350839.

(19/05/1989) SX 61377710 Seven stone mounds.
Seven stone mounds, five in a group centred at SX 61377710 and two isolated to the N at SX 61317750 and SX 61237788. All lie on a moderate W slope in the West Dart Valley, within an extensive prehistoric settlement (SX 67 NW 81).
Six mounds are sub-circular or sub-oval, the seventh is square; all have flattish or gently-domed tops. Four 1,2,6,7 have evidence of formal construction while the remainder are of piled stones, often with many spaces visible: no earth is incorporated. In all cases, medium and large sized stones are used, some of which would have been levered into place.
Mound 1 (SX 61377707) D-shaped, crudely revetted with roughly coursed stones on the SW. 8m across; up to 1.2m high. Traces of a ditch on the SE. Top disturbed by small hole.
Mound 2 (SX 61357709) Amorphous heap measuring 9.7 by 6.7m and 0.8m high. Damaged on W and top is pitted.
Mound 3 (SX 61367712) A circular area of medium size stones has a rectangular stoney 'platform' in its western half. This platform measures 6m by 2.5m and stands 0.4m high. Towards its centre and aligned with it is an upright, edge set slab 1.1m long and 0.1m thick, protruding 0.2m above the otherwise loose, surrounding stones. On its E side, three irregular, thin slabs averaging 0.6m across lie loosely on the platform. The initial impression is of a ruined cist, perhaps built in a ruined hut circle, but the situation is unclear and the apparently positioned slab may be fortuitous.
Mound 4 (SX 61387710) Oval, measuring 9.3 by 7.9m and up to 1m high. Even top slopes gently W.
Mound 5 (SX 61367714) Oval, measuring 10 by 8m and 0.9m high. Traces of a ditch on the E side. Top is gently domed.
Mound 6 (SX 61317750) Circular; 5m diameter and 0.9m high. Crudely revetted all round with roughly coursed stones, including on the W a large triangular, upright slab with two supporting stones at its base and on the S several slabs at the base, each overlapping at an angle of about fifteen degrees Flat-topped.
Mound 7 (SX 61237788) Squarish with rounded corners measuring 5.2m by 4.3m and up to 0.8m high. Clear coursed walling revets the mound on at least three sides, clearest on the W where it adopts a pronounced batter. Flat-topped, but dug into and left pitted. There are slight traces of a ditch.
It has been suggested that some of these mounds relate to clearance and others to burial, which with 'cairn rings', indicate a cemetery associated with prehistoric settlement (SX 67 NW 21) on the other bank of the West Dart (Royal Commission APP, 1985).
This is not convincing. not one of the mounds, with the possible exception of mound 3, has constructional details usually associated with burial cairns. Burial is rare within settlements and a cemetery would be unique. The 'cairn rings' are in fact hut circles (see SX 67 NW 81 settlement) Mound 2, with its irregular and pitted form could be a result of clearance, but no more such mounds have been located during detailed survey of SX 67 NW 81.
It is possible, though not certain, that some of the cairns are circular pillow mounds; numerous, rectangular pillow mounds associated with Wistman's Warren (see SX 67 NW 72 & 96) lie in the vicinity. This seems likely for mounds 1,5,6 and 7 where there is evidence of revetment and/or slight ditches. The rectangular 'platform' of mound 3 resembles the stone base known in other pillow mounds. Circular pillow mounds do occur locally, at Beardown Warren (SX 67 NW 71) and Roundhill (SX 67 SW 5) though built of earth on a stone base.
The mounds are previously recorded under SX 67 NW 72; pillow mounds.
See 1:2500 plan with SX 67 NW 81.

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 157014 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

(22/04/2002) SX 61357711 Stone hut circle 255m west of Littaford Tors, forming part of a prehistoric settlement on the western slopes of Longaford and Littaford Tors.
Measures 3.9m by 2.8m. Rubble and double orthostat wall 1.1m wide, 0.7m high. Rectangular in shape. Grass and gorse.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV254256Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978. SX67NW72. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index. SX67NW72.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 157014.
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.
SDV350839Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1987-1993. Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. Unknown. P. Pattison.

Associated Monuments

MDV5933Related to: Field system and hut settlements on south-west slopes of Longaford and Littaford Tors, Dartmoor Forest (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8644 - Cherrybrook and Longford Newtake, Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV8409 - Dartmoor Royal Forest Project
  • EDV8423 - Duchy Farms Project

Date Last Edited:Aug 7 2022 12:11PM