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HER Number:MDV55153
Name:Hut Circle in West Coombe settlement


Excavation of this hut and platform in 1984 revealed four phases of construction. The platform was cut into the hillside (phase 1a) and (phase 1b) a timber house was constructed (dated using the carbon 14 method to 379-185 BC and 110-9 BC). Post holes suggest this may have had a porch structure. Central hearth with charcoal was dated to 375-176 BC. Some fragments of pot recovered. In the second phase the timber house was abandoned and appears to have decayed naturally. In phase 3, a second, smaller stone house was built (diameter 6-7 metres), with entrance to the south-west and a pavement constructed over the drip groove of the timber house. This may have occurred after as much as 100 years since the abandonment of the timber house.


Grid Reference:SX 701 818
Map Sheet:SX78SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishNorth Bovey
Ecclesiastical ParishNORTH BOVEY

Protected Status

  • SHINE: West Coombe Prehistoric settlement including a field system, enclosures and hut circles, and medieval field system with ridge and furrow on Hookney Down to south-east

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX 78 SW 9
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX78SW/256
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX78SW9
  • Pastscape: 445635

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PLATFORM (Constructed, Iron Age - 700 BC to 42 AD (Between)) + Sci.Date
  • HUT CIRCLE (Constructed, Early Iron Age to Middle Iron Age - 379 BC to 176 BC (Between)) + Sci.Date
  • HUT CIRCLE (Constructed, Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 187 BC to 35 BC (Between)) + Sci.Date

Full description

Keene, B., Arrowheads from Prehistoric Devon, 51 (Un-published). SDV325505.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SX78SW9 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV346549.

Gibson, A., 1984, Survey and Excavation on Shapley Common, Dartmoor, 1984 (Report - Excavation). SDV346474.

Other details: Plan.

Gibson, A., 1984, Survey of a Platform Settlement at Gold Park, Shapley Common, Dartmoor: Easter 1984, 11, Fig 2 (Report - Survey). SDV363151.

Other details: Plan.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume One - The East, 158-159 (Monograph). SDV299725.

The Prehistoric settlement at West Coombe includes Hut 2 with a diameter of 8 metres which is built across the embanked passageway completely blocking it and so was presumably constructed after the passageway had fallen into disuse.. Other details: Map 23, Site 1, Figure 23.1.

Gibson, A., 1992, The Excavation of an Iron Age Settlement at Gold Park, Dartmoor, 24-32 (Article in Serial). SDV346556.

House 5 (SX 7014 8180): The platform house was excavated in 1986. A tanged flint arrowhead was recovered during de-turfing. Four phases of construction were recorded:
Phase 1a: a platform was cut into hillside, presumably for the timber house
Phase 1b: a ring-groove timber house was constructed on the platform. This measured 8.0 metres in internal diameter and had an entrance to the north-east. The entrance was well defined by the termination of the bedding trench in two large post-holes, probably representing door-jambs, with an area of dirty compacted subsoil between them. A mixed charcoal sample from the bedding trench gave a Carbon 14 date 379-185 BC. An internal ring of seven postholes presumably held roof supports. Position of packing stones suggests a post diameter of circa 0.20 metres. Post holes nearest the entrance were double and close set, which may represent their replacement, or the presence of a porch structure - the former probably more likely. A shallow ledge running around the scarp of the platform was interpreted as a drip-trench. A black, charcoal rich floor level gave a Carbon 14 date of 110-9 BC. A shallow hearth was revealed in the central area. Charcoal from the hearth gave a Carbon 14 date 375-176 BC. Finds from this phase were few and mainly comprised comminuted sherds of pot. Undecorated pot was also recovered from the bedding trench, and a slightly everted rim sherd with single internal incised line was recovered from the hearth. The fabrics are consistent with a Glastonbury or south-western style La Tene decorated assemblage.
Phase 2: the timber house was abandoned. It apparently decayed naturally, and appears to have been abandoned long enough for a turf line to develop.
Phase 3: a smaller, stone house, 4-4.5 metres internal diameter (6-7 metres overall) with entrance to south-west, was constructed. A pavement was constructed over the ring-groove of the timber house. This, and the trenches beneath and the stones may have been for drainage and consolidation. The wall comprised a simple rubble bank with no obvious structuring. No post holes or pads were found within the house or the wall. A mixed sample from the internal floor level gave a Carbon 14 date of 358 BC-AD 20. In the western part of the house was a dense patch of charcoal marking the hearth. There were no finds from this feature, but a mixed sample gave a Carbon 14 date of 187-35 BC. A sherd of later south-western La Tene or Glastonbury style pot was found between the flat stones.
Gibson suggests the stone house may have been constructed around 100 years after the abandonment of the timber house.

Quinnell, H., 1998, Later Prehistoric Pottery Survey, 1431 (Report - Survey). SDV336212.

Circa 20 sherds of mid/late Iron Age pot recovered during excavation. Now in Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

Gerrard, S., 2004, List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor (Un-published). SDV345444.

Part of West Coombe Prehistoric settlement which was considered for designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 2004. Other details: Site 89.

GeoInformation Group Ltd, 2010, 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution) (Aerial Photograph). SDV346026.

Remains of hut and platform easily visible on the aerial photographs.

National Monuments Record, 2011, 445635 (National Monuments Record Database). SDV346555.

Seven Bronze/Iron Age huts and field system, remade possibly in Medieval period, on Coombe Down.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV299725Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume One - The East. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume One - The East. One. Paperback Volume. 158-159.
SDV325505Un-published: Keene, B.. Arrowheads from Prehistoric Devon. Manuscript + Digital. 51.
SDV336212Report - Survey: Quinnell, H.. 1998. Later Prehistoric Pottery Survey. Later Prehistoric Pottery Survey. A4 Spiral Bound. 1431.
SDV345444Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
SDV346026Aerial Photograph: GeoInformation Group Ltd. 2010. 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution). 2010 Aerial Photographs. Digital. [Mapped feature: #119190 ]
SDV346474Report - Excavation: Gibson, A.. 1984. Survey and Excavation on Shapley Common, Dartmoor, 1984. University of Leicester. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV346549Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SX78SW9. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV346555National Monuments Record Database: National Monuments Record. 2011. 445635. National Monuments Record Database. Website.
SDV346556Article in Serial: Gibson, A.. 1992. The Excavation of an Iron Age Settlement at Gold Park, Dartmoor. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 50. Paperback Volume. 24-32.
SDV363151Report - Survey: Gibson, A.. 1984. Survey of a Platform Settlement at Gold Park, Shapley Common, Dartmoor: Easter 1984. University of Leicester. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 11, Fig 2.

Associated Monuments

MDV8724Part of: West Coombe Settlement, Shapley Common (Monument)
MDV8739Related to: Enclosure with central hut in settlement on Shapley Common (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV1769 - BARBED AND TANGED ARROWHEAD (Early Bronze Age to Early Iron Age - 2200 BC to 700 BC)
  • FDV1768 - POT (Middle Iron Age to Late Iron Age - 300 BC to 42 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV8134 - Survey of settlement on Shapley Common
  • EDV8135 - The Excavation of an Iron Age Settlement at Gold Park, Shapley Common (Ref: 636273)

Date Last Edited:Sep 15 2020 1:10PM