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HER Number:MDV6655
Name:Hut Circle or Ring cairn 420 metres west-north-west of Metherall, Fernworthy Reservoir

Summary

Submerged circular structure excavated by Worth in the 1930s in advance of construction of the reservoir. The different method of construction, the lack of domestic artefacts and a pit containing charcoal led Worth to conclude that this was a cairn with a cremation burial. However, the unusual form of construction with an inner and outer ring of slabs, the inner lower than the outer, could simply be a variant hut type; it is the largest in the settlement at 9.8 metres internal diameter. It has also been commented that the lack of domestic artefacts is not unusual in hut circles excavated at this time, although it maybe of note that they were found other hut circles which were excavated at the same time.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 668 840
Map Sheet:SX68SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChagford
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCHAGFORD

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Walling remains of a group of partially submerged Bronze Age hut circles and associated fields with Tudor secondary occupation at Fernworthy Reservoir

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 443845
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68SE/82
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • HUT CIRCLE (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC)
  • RING CAIRN (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC)

Full description

Ormerod, G. W., 1864, On the Hut Circles on the Eastern Side of Dartmoor, 303 (Article in Serial). SDV304174.

Ormerod notes the existence of 6 hut circles on right side of South Teign, opposite Thornworthy. Five were of typical construction, the sixth was built with horizontal layers of stone.


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

The eastern and largest of a group of three Hut Circles.


Worth, R. H., 1937, Thirteenth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, 147-150, figs. 4-6, Pl. 26-28 (Article in Serial). SDV256641.

Excavation of three circles in 1936, prior to the construction of new reservoir at Fernworthy, showed the eastern circle, "No 6" (SX66858402), to represent the remains of a cairn with a probable cremation burial in a pit beneath a cover-stone.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952, SX68SE49 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV348015.

Remains of cairn and two hut circles at Metherall. All these features lie below the water line of Fernworthy Reservoir.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Not visible on 1946 Royal Air Force aerial photographs.


Griffith, F. M., 1990, DAP/TV, 5-8 (Aerial Photograph). SDV160790.


Turner, J. R., 1990, Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, 41-2, 62, 71 (Article in Serial). SDV229817.

Turner describes this as a "double kerb circle" (C2), an outer circle of closely set large orthostats 9.2 metres in diameter, with an inner kerb of stones set on edge 8.2 metres in diameter. On a low platform generally under reservoir but occasionally visible. Damaged by waters and visitors.


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

Worth concluded that the exceptionally large circle (5 on Butler's map), measuring 10.1 metres in diameter, was the remains of a cairn with all the small stones removed, though in appearance it is not dissimilar to the huts. Features he considered unusual were that the wall-stones on the inside were set more evenly than normal and were shorter than those forming the outer face, and that there was an inner ring of small slabs. The wall on the south edge where the entrance to a hut would be expected was too badly damaged to determine the matter. The only probable contemporary finds were some flint chips and four quartz crystals but none of the usual household waste such as pottery or charcoal. Beneath the rubble floor another exceptional feature was a large flat slab covering a shallow depression in the subsoil containing charcoal, which Worth interpreted as an interment pit.


English Heritage, 2005-2008, Prehistoric Survey Information (Report - Survey). SDV345521.

A group of three Bronze Age hut circles and cairn with Tudor secondary occupation. The huts have large upright slabs of up to 1.1 metres high. Their diameters range from 6.7 to 9.8 metres.


Newman , P., 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Supplement. The Lakeside Area and Lowton Farmsteads, 11, 27, Fig. 9 (Report - Survey). SDV356884.

Worth's excavations proved this submerged 'hut' to be the most unusual of the group and perhaps not a hut at all. It is the largest of all the Metherall huts, with an internal diameter of 9.8 metres, and its method of construction is different with an inner and outer ring of slabs, the inner lower than the outer. Worth also identified a third inner circle, although only three stones are depicted on his plan. No domestic artefacts were found and the removal of a large flat slab on the floor exposed a pit containing charcoal which was interpreted as an interment pit. Worth concluded therefore that this was a cairn rather than a hut circle.
Newman throws doubt on this interpretation. The different construction method could be explained as a variant hut type and the lack of domestic finds is not unusual during excavations of this period. The only available photograph of the site prior to excavation shows that it did not have a central fill which would have been expected had this been a cairn. Newman suggests that this site now be re-assessed in the light of more recent discoveries at Dartmoor hut circles.
The northern arc of the structure is better preserved than the southern side.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV160790Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F. M.. 1990. DAP/TV. Devon Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper) + Photograph (Digital). 5-8.
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.
SDV229817Article in Serial: Turner, J. R.. 1990. Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 48. Paperback Volume. 41-2, 62, 71.
SDV256641Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1937. Thirteenth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 69. Unknown. 147-150, figs. 4-6, Pl. 26-28.
SDV304174Article in Serial: Ormerod, G. W.. 1864. On the Hut Circles on the Eastern Side of Dartmoor. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 20. Unknown. 303.
SDV319854Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. 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).
SDV345521Report - Survey: English Heritage. 2005-2008. Prehistoric Survey Information. English Heritage. Digital. [Mapped feature: #98227 ]
SDV348015Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952. SX68SE49. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV356884Report - Survey: Newman , P.. 2013. The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Supplement. The Lakeside Area and Lowton Farmsteads. Newman, P.. A4 Comb Bound. 11, 27, Fig. 9.

Associated Monuments

MDV107529Part of: Metherall Hut Settlement, Chagford (Monument)
MDV6624Related to: Hut circle 450 metres north-west of Metherall, Fernworthy Reservoir (Monument)
MDV6654Related to: Hut circle 450 metres west-north-west of Metherall, Fernworthy Reservoir (Monument)
MDV30790Related to: Worked flint from Fernworthy Reservoir (Find Spot)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6533 - Archaeological Survey of South-West Lakeside Trust Land around Fernworthy Reservoir

Date Last Edited:Sep 9 2014 2:58PM