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HER Number:MDV6625
Name:Hut circle 300 metres north-west of Metherall Farm, Fernworthy Reservoir


Most northerly hut circle of the group at Metherall, Fernworthy Reservoir, four huts of which are now submerged, following the construction of the reservoir in the mid 20th century. Some of the hut circles have been reused as farm buildings over time and two have certainly been used as tinner's workshops or stores in the 16th century. This hut was excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee in the mid-1930s in advance of the construction of the reservoir.


Grid Reference:SX 670 841
Map Sheet:SX68SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChagford
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCHAGFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX68SE47
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 443843
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68SE/57/1
  • Old SAM Ref: 28752

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Worth, R. H., 1935, 12th Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, 119-129, Pl. 12-14, Figs. 9-24 (Article in Serial). SDV259660.

Two hut circles in a group of hut circles on the edge of Fernworthy reservoir excavated by Worth. He called these two numbers 1 and 2 (sited at SX 67048417 and SX 67068413 respectively).
Hut 1 on plan, at the head of two hedges. Excavated in August 1934. Hut measured 28 feet in diameter with walls ranging from 3-4 feet in height and an entrance on the south-west side. and is formed of two slabs which extend through the thickness of the wall. Paved with two steps down to the hut floor, which is on calm, lying on average 0.5 metres below the surrounding ground. Floor slopes to the north-east.
Many of the slabs are thrown down to reveal a dry stone wall which would act as a retaining wall. Stones also disposed as a toe or retaining circle. In the centre of the hut was a pit probably connected with the removal of stone by the stone workers. Flakes of flint and a "pigmy", charcoal and fire cracked boiler found. No pottery or a defined hearth. Ruddle found but here possibly native to the soil.

Worth, R. H., 1945, The Dartmoor Hut Circles, 230-234,252-256, Pl. 11-12 (Article in Serial). SDV246120.

Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1995, 2361-2 (Aerial Photograph). SDV224714.

Hut circle visible on aerial photograph.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952, SX68SE47 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV259659.

Remains of a cairn (ring?) and two hut circles at Metherall. When visited in 1952 this circle was in good condition. Entrance (height 1.14 metres, width 0.8 metres).

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

Recorded from aerial photographs.

Griffith, F. M., 1985, DAP/EM, 7 (Aerial Photograph). SDV274678.

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 152182 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

(14/6/1999) Hut circle 325 metres north-west of Metherall. Diameter 8.5 metres. Single orthostat wall 1.8 metres wide, 1.7 metres high. Internal area 56.71 metres. Average height of the hut wall is 1.5 metres. The doorway faces 228 degrees, is denoted on both sides by large orthostats and measures 1.0 metre wide. Stones lying outside the doorway may be the remnants of a porch. Lies adjacent to Potter's Way which measures 1.5 metres wide and is covered in stone with dust. The hut is covered by grass, gorse, bracken and very small Rowans.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 155-6, Fig. 35.1 (Monograph). SDV219155.

Hut circle 1; one of 5 excavated in 1934-6 by R. H. Worth prior to the flooding of the reservoir. Measures 8.6 meters in diameter and was the only dwelling approached from the riverbank via a passageway (MDV 61336). The interior has been excavated down to the original floor level, about 1.5 meters below the top of its massive wall. The jambs still stand on either side of the paved entrance with two steps down into the interior. The floor has been greatly disturbed and only three flint flakes and a few pot-boilers were found, but despite the charcoal there was no evidence of a hearth.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

Hut circle is depicted on the modern digital mapping.

English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

The four stone hut circles and associated boundary walls south east of Fernworthy Reservoir, 250 meters north-west of Metherall are amongst the most visually impressive on Dartmoor. With walls standing up to 1.8 metres high the true scale and impressive character of Bronze Age domestic architecture can be easily appreciated.
The monument, which falls into four areas of protection, includes four substantial stone hut circles and associated boundary walls situated on a gentle north-west facing slope overlooking Fernworthy Reservoir. The stone hut circles survive as circular walls each surrounding an internal area which varies from 45 square metres to 57 square metres. The heights of the surrounding walls vary between 1.1 metres and 1.8 metres. Two of the huts have visible doorways and one has a porch. The northernmost hut is attached to parallel walls leading downslope from the building. This feature would have acted as a passageway allowing unhindered access to lower parts of the valley. The two northernmost huts were excavated between 1934 and 1936 by Worth. In the northern hut he found that the floor had been previously disturbed and artefacts were limited to a few flint flakes.

Newman, P., 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Supplement. The Lakeside Area and Lowton Farmsteads, 8, Figs. 6, 18 (Report - Survey). SDV356884.

This hut was excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee in advance of reservoir construction, although it lies above the upper level of the water. However, it is clear from the excavation that it was believed that the hut would be submerged. The hut circle was constructed using large slabs set on edge to form the interior wall. Drawings from the excavation show a drystone wall around the edge, although this is no longer discernible, covered by an earthen bank. The bank is substantive, up to 3.5 metres wide in places, giving the hut quite a massive appearance. About 50 per cent of the inner wall remains in siue on the northern and western sides. The entrance is in the south-west quadrant, comprising a 0.76 metres wide opening lined by single in situ upright slabs. Some fallen slabs outside could have originally formed an extension to this opening.

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. 155-6, Fig. 35.1.
SDV224714Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1995. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2361-2.
SDV246120Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1945. The Dartmoor Hut Circles. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 77. A5 Hardback. 230-234,252-256, Pl. 11-12.
SDV259659Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952. SX68SE47. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV259660Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1935. 12th Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 67. Photocopy. 119-129, Pl. 12-14, Figs. 9-24.
SDV274678Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1985. DAP/EM. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 7.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 152182.
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.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #98057 ]
SDV347072National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
SDV356884Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2013. The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Supplement. The Lakeside Area and Lowton Farmsteads. South-West Landscape Investigations. A4 Comb Bound. 8, Figs. 6, 18.

Associated Monuments

MDV107529Part of: Metherall Hut Settlement, Chagford (Monument)
MDV6627Related to: Passageway to Hut Circle at Metherall (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV5983 - FLAKE (Prehistoric - 698000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FDV5984 - POT BOILER (Prehistoric - 698000 BC to 42 AD)

Associated Events

  • EDV6533 - Archaeological Survey of South-West Lakeside Trust Land around Fernworthy Reservoir
  • EDV8515 - Excavation of huts, Chagford

Date Last Edited:Apr 12 2022 11:04AM