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HER Number:MDV7985
Name:Enclosure in Boro' Wood, Ashburton

Summary

Earthwork enclosure in Boro' Wood formed by a stone rampart at the highest part of the wood. The enclosure contains several substantial circular platforms which may be hut circles as they are ideally situated, facing south, for domestic habitations.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 748 716
Map Sheet:SX77SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishAshburton
DistrictTeignbridge
Ecclesiastical ParishASHBURTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77SW/14
  • Old SAM County Ref: 824

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • ENCLOSURE (Unknown date)

Full description

Ancient Monuments, 06/05/1970, Earthworks in Boro' Wood (Schedule Document). SDV351137.

Subrectangular enclosure approximately 247 metres by 174 metres. Stone rampart 3.66 metres - 6.40 metres wide and has a maximum height of 1.53 metres. Stone rampart 3.66 metres to 6.40 metres and 174 metres. There is no sign of an outer ditch. Robbing particularly in the south-west has reduced the bank to a little more than a scatter of stones. None of the many gaps can be identified as an original entrance. The bank is composed of small stones. There are several mine shafts in the interior. Probably a Medieval stock enclosure.


1873-1874, Some Hitherto Unrecorded Hillfortresses near Ashburton, 262-263 (Article in Serial). SDV301054.

Earthworks in Boro' Wood.


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

Feature not shown on 19th century map.


Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

'Boro' Wood Castle' shown on early 20th century map as an oval feature with earthworks around most of the circumference.


Wall, J. C., 1906, Ancient Earthworks, 366, 602 (Article in Monograph). SDV341465.


Amery, J. S., 1924, (Presidential Address) The Ashburton of past days: its manners, customs and inhabitants, 44 (Article in Serial). SDV315287.

At the highest part of Boro' Wood an enclosure is formed by a stone rampart from 3.66 metres - 6.1 metres wide and from 1.52 metres - 1.90 metres high. There is no outer ditch but advantage has been taken of the hill crest. There is a double rampart to the north-west where the ground is level and traces of entrance on the east side.


Amery, J. S., 1925, Unknown (Presidential Address), 94 (Article in Serial). SDV301060.

A map of 1605 shows a roughly circular enclosure annotated 'Castle'in Boro'wood'.


Pilkington-Rogers, C. W, 1932, The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities, 385 (Article in Serial). SDV149513.


Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1890, 2384 (Aerial Photograph). SDV169268.


Adams, E. A. + Dewey, H., 1950, Spindle Whorls Found in Devonshire, 326 (Article in Serial). SDV147932.

Spindle whorl found amongst the rampart stones.


Robinson, R., 1984, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1984 (Un-published). SDV343082.

Site visit 23rd May 1984.


The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Unit, 1985, The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV340940.

Site partly visible but largely obscured by trees.


Berry, N. + Simmonds, T., 1996, An Archaeological Survey of Boro Wood (SX7571), Erme Wood (SX6357), Wistmans Wood (SX6177) and Newpark Waste (SX5961) (Report - Survey). SDV360518.


Newman, P., 2002, Boro Wood, Ashburton, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV351138.

Stony enclosure on hill summit probably of late-prehistoric date. The enclosure comprises a rubble bank forming a broadly elliptical circuit measuring 256 metres by 160 metres and enclosing an area of circa 4.1 hectares. There is no obvious evidence of an external ditch. The rampart is much disturbed and spread in places and there are several gaps, none of which can be identified as an entrance with any confidence. It is notable that the gap in the north-west corner is very close to medieval or post-medieval stone-faced field boundaries for which the rampart would have made a ready source of material. The apparent double rampart on the northern arc of the enclosure is likely to be due to heavy disturbance and mutilation at this point which has given the appearance of more than one bank.
The interior of the enclosure has been wooded for at least 400 years. However, several artificial features are visible including seven substantial circular platforms. These may be charcoal burning platforms or possibly hut platforms as they face south. A small pit near the centre of the enclosure and a short trench and associated spoil dump near the south corner are probably the result of mineral prospecting. There is also a mine shaft in the north-west of the interior associated with the nearby 19th century Arundell or Druid Mine A circular platform to the north of the shaft may have been for a horse whim. Seven narrow trenches adjacent to the rampart in the south-east quadrant may be related to military activity.
Lady Fox suggested that the apparent unweathered nature of the stone coupled with the lack of a local source indicates that the material comprises spoil from a nearby copper mine and that the enclosure, therefore, cannot be prehistoric in date. However, close examination of the stone shows that some of it is weathered and furthermore stone of this appearance is abundant just below the surface both in the interior of the enclosure and on other parts of the hillside. In addition the enclosure is known to have been in existence prior to 1604 before any known mining activity in the vicinity. If it is accepted that the hillslope enclosure is of Iron Age date then the site fits in well with the series of similarly positioned, lightly defended enclosures around the periphery of Dartmoor.
Little evidence of additional human activity was noted in the surrounding woodland other than some small-scale mineral prospecting and some activity at the foot of the eastern side of the hill which is probably to be associated with Belford Mill.


Crabb, A., 2003, Enclosures in Boro'wood (Un-published). SDV351143.

Documents setting out the extent of the damage caused by cattle to the south-west quadrant of the monument which had been enclosed by a modern fence with recommendations for repair and the works undertaken in November 2003. The latter comprised removal of the modern fence, blocking of an extant gateway and creation of a new gateway into Bowdley plantation and the erection of a new fence along the boundary of Bowdley and Borough plantations to prevent cattle access to the enclosure.


Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

'Boro' Wood Castle Enclosure' shown as an oval feature on modern mapping.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SX77SW30 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV301056.

Site visit 24th May 1960. Oval-shaped work situated on slight south-east slope a little below hill crest. Position not good for defence as only on north-east side is any protection by a natural slope. A single rampart of stones can be traced for most of the circuit, although in places particularly to the south-west stone robbing has reduced it to barely more than a scatter of stones. The apparent double rampart to north-west seems to be mutilation and not an original feature. None of the many gaps can be identified as original entrance. The bank is composed of small stones, which with their sharp unweathered faces appear to have been quarried. There is no outcrop nor surface stone in the area. Lady Fox's contention that the feature is an old copper working appears unlikely. The irregularity of the profile is due to stone robbing. To the north-east where the rampart is undisturbed it is regular and well made. The purpose of the enclosure is obscure possibly a stock enclosure of uncertain date for it is quite unlike the prehistoric earthworks of the region. The use of possibly quarried stone indicates possible medieval origin.
Site visit June 1976. In same condition, completely wooded. A deep shaft within the enclosure is not recent.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV147932Article in Serial: Adams, E. A. + Dewey, H.. 1950. Spindle Whorls Found in Devonshire. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 82. A5 Hardback. 326.
SDV149513Article in Serial: Pilkington-Rogers, C. W. 1932. The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 64. A5 Hardback. 385.
SDV169268Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2384.
SDV301054Article in Serial: 1873-1874. Some Hitherto Unrecorded Hillfortresses near Ashburton. 6. Unknown. 262-263.
SDV301056Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SX77SW30. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV301060Article in Serial: Amery, J. S.. 1925. Unknown (Presidential Address). Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 56. Unknown. 94.
SDV315287Article in Serial: Amery, J. S.. 1924. (Presidential Address) The Ashburton of past days: its manners, customs and inhabitants. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 56. Unknown. 44.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV340940Interpretation: The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Unit. 1985. The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project. The Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England Aerial Photograph Project. Map (Paper).
SDV341465Article in Monograph: Wall, J. C.. 1906. Ancient Earthworks. Victoria History of the County of Devon. Hardback Volume. 366, 602.
SDV343082Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1984. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1984. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #106651 ]
SDV351137Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 06/05/1970. Earthworks in Boro' Wood. The Schedule of Monuments. A4 Stapled.
SDV351138Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2002. Boro Wood, Ashburton, Devon. English Heritage Archaeological Investigation Report. AI/7/2002. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.
SDV351143Un-published: Crabb, A.. 2003. Enclosures in Boro'wood. A4 Stapled.
SDV360518Report - Survey: Berry, N. + Simmonds, T.. 1996. An Archaeological Survey of Boro Wood (SX7571), Erme Wood (SX6357), Wistmans Wood (SX6177) and Newpark Waste (SX5961). Dartmoor National Park Authority Report. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV7986Related to: Shaft at Boro' Wood Castle, Ashburton (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6139 - Archaeological Survey of Boro Wood, Ashburton (Ref: AI/7/2002)
  • EDV7444 - Survey of Newpark Waste and Boro, Erme and Wistmans Woods

Date Last Edited:Feb 16 2018 4:17PM