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HER Number:MDV56589
Name:Features in and around the enclosure on White Tor, Peter Tavy


A number of features variously described as rock shelters and hut circles were excavated in 1898 and itemised on a plan accompanying the report.


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: SX57NW84
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 439961
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NW/36/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 363

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HUT CIRCLE? (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC)
  • SHELTER (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC)

Full description

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

A number of features variously described as rock shelters and hut circles were excavated in 1898 and itemised on a plan accompanying the report.
I. Hut circle with inner and outer chamber. Finds: two small fragments of thin brick red pottery, three sherds of handmade pottery of cooking vessel type, a flint scraper, a core, trimmed flake like an arrowhead and scores of flakes and chips, some discoloured by fire. Floor of the inner circle was strewn with charcoal. No cooking hole or stones found.
II. Hut circle. Cooking hole full of ash found. Covered chamber under a large slab of rock. Had been built up on north-east side. Inner and outer chamber. Flint flakes found in both. Small piece of pottery in inner chamber, slag also found here later. A small entrance in dividing wall is defined by two upright jambs.
III. Hut circle outside both walls and under the lee of two large boulders. Only one piece of burnt flint found. Now this is a small rectangular enclosed area. Living rock forms one side, the wall being built around a natural hollow.
IV. Hut before excavation it had the appearance of a good sized cairn. Yielded a few pieces of flint, two or three fragments of pottery of prehistoric type and a fragment of medieval pottery showing traces of glaze, looking like the portion of a lug of some vessel, and was probably an intrusion. Now a large number of stones surrounding a prong of rock.
V. Hut circle in the outer wall. All that was found in it was a cooking hole containing some charcoal. Now turf covered stones, no entrance visible.
VI. Hut is connected with V by a short wall of small stones. Nothing found in this circle to suggest human occupancy. (V and VI: see SX57NW8).
VII. A rock shelter. Remains of wall surrounding large boulder. This was a rock shelter. A cooking hole found with several pounds of burnt clay mixed with charcoal, also part of earthenware pot and other small sherds. Charcoal also strewn over other parts of this enclosure.
VIII. A rock shelter, similar to VII. Charcoal and flint flakes found.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978, SX57NW84 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV270775.

(20/10/1978) SX54297862 (i). A mass of stones forming a circular mound 9.0 metres in diameter and 1.0 metre high with a large depression in the centre. The stones are of fairly small size but in such quantity it is hardly conceivable that they could represent a tumbled hut. This, the so-called 'inner chamber is almost certainly a cairn.
The 'outer chamber' on the north-east side is 0.7 metres high, a somewhat oval-walled structure 4.0 metres overall and 2.0 metres across internally. No entrance can be seen but the impression gained is that of a medieval or later shelter or hut constructed from stones of the cairn.
SX54337863 (ii). Excluding the large rock forming the west side this is a semi-circular bank of stones 3.5 metres overall and 0.5 metres high with a central depression 1.6 metres across. There is no sign of the curious 'inner chamber' mentioned in the excavation. As the terminal to a rampart it could be a hut, but of minimal dimensions. An enigmatic feature, just possibly a ruined cairn.
SX54347863 (iii). A semi-circular wall of stones 4.0 metres in overall diameter and 0.8 metres high, set against a rock 2.0 metres high on the west side. The interior is 2.0 metres across. It is impossible to judge the form of the original structure; that which exists is largely modern re-building to create a shelter. It could have been either a hut or a cairn.
SX4287863 (iv). An oval mound of stones measuring 10 metres by 14 metres and 0.8 metres high. It encompasses a large rock which forms the centre to a depression in the mound perhaps caused by excavation. It is undoubtedly a boulder cairn, contiguous to (i) that on the south.
SX54317863 (vii). The main feature is a rock about 2.0 metres square and 2.0 metres high around which is a bank of stone 1.5 metres wide and 0.5 metres high. The overall diameter is 6.0 metres with an interspace of about 1.0 metre between the rock and the inner face of the bank, virtually impossible for habitation. This seems likely to have been a boulder cairn.
SX54287867 (viii). A 'tor' cairn, with a diameter of 10 metres by 13 metres, enclosing part of a mass of outcrop, on the south side the rock is 2.7 metres high and the stones 0.6 metres high; on the west the base of the outcrop is at the foot of a short north slope and here the rock is 4.0 metres high with stones piled against it to a height of 1.3 metres.
An additional feature (ix), identified during field investigation, is at SX54267860, to the east of and contiguous to the large cairn (MDV4147). A protrusion of outcrop, 1.5 metres by 1.0 metre and 0.2 metres high, is surrounded on the north and east by a bank of stones 2.0 metres wide and 0.3 metres high. The overall diameter is about 8.0 metres. The turf covered, stony, interspace between the rock and the inner face of the bank is, at most, 1.5 metres. The south side is occupied by a massive block of outcropping rock; the west side merges into the adjacent cairn. There is no entrance and although the site could be construed as a hut it seems more likely to be a cairn.
Because of scale factors only cairns IV and VIII are surveyed at 1:10 000 on PFD, but see illustration plan at 1:1000.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 90-92, Map 31, Figure 31.7 (Monograph). SDV219155.

Features '1' to '9' are shown at the 'White Tor Fort'. Cairns, hut circles and rock shelters exist on the summit both outside and within the walls but none of them are necessarily contemporary with the fortifications. Most of the features within the fort were excavated and described by the Darmoor Exploration Committee in 1898 and 1899.

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

(11/01/2018) A ring of stones within Wittor enclosure which was the site of a published antiquarian excavation.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV219155Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 90-92, Map 31, Figure 31.7.
SDV270775Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978. SX57NW84. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV344950Article in Serial: Baring Gould, S.. 1899. Sixth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 31. Digital. 146-9 pl..
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.

Associated Monuments

MDV4147Related to: Large tor cairn on White Tor, Peter Tavy (Monument)
MDV28514Related to: Stone-free areas in Whittor enclosure (Monument)
MDV4101Related to: White Tor Camp, Peter Tavy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7570 - Condition survey of Merrivale Range training area

Date Last Edited:Dec 10 2022 11:06AM