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HER Number:MDV8440
Name:Spinster's Rock, Drewsteignton

Summary

Spinster's Rock or Shilstone Cromlech stands west of Drewsteignton in a field near Shilstone Farm. The monument consists of three large vertical stones supporting the cap or quoit stone. This fell in 1862 but was restored ten months later. Stone circles and avenues formerly existed near the cromlech, which is the only one remaining standing in the county.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 700 907
Map Sheet:SX79SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDrewsteignton
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishDREWSTEIGNTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX79SW/3
  • Old SAM County Ref: 101

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CHAMBERED TOMB (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2201 BC (Between))

Full description

Swete, R. J. (Revd), 1792, 'Crom-lek at Drewsteignton' (564M/F1/56), 564M/F1/56 (Record Office Collection). SDV222226.

Illustration by Swete.


Williams, T. H., 1804, Picturesque Excursions in Devonshire, 100-105 (Illustration). SDV222227.

Site described and sketched (with druids). Chapple's astronomical theory quoted.


Wilkinson, J. G., 1862, On British Remains on Dartmoor, 45 pl.2 (Article in Serial). SDV277122.


Ormerod, G. W., 1871, The Fall and Restoration of the Cromlech at Drewsteignton, in the County of Devon, 1862, 345-350, 409-411 (Article in Serial). SDV222202.


Ormerod, G. W., 1872, Notice of prehistoric remains formerly existing near Drewsteignton Cromlech, 73-74 (Article in Serial). SDV238225.


Burnard, R., 1891, Dartmoor Pictorial Records, 23 (Article in Serial). SDV222204.


Amery, P. F. S., 1900-1901, A Tour across Dartmoor into North Devon by the Rev. John Swete 1789, 88-96 (Article in Serial). SDV18670.

The cromlech is described in an 18th century article.


Victoria County History, 1906, The Victoria History of the County of Devon, 348 (Article in Serial). SDV238214.


Burnard, R., 1911, Address of the President, 45,53 (Article in Serial). SDV231227.


Ancient Monuments, 1924, Schedule Document (Schedule Document). SDV222228.

Visited in March 1924. Spinster's Rock or Shilstone Cromlech, Drewsteignton. The cromlech stands 3.22 kilometres west of Drewsteignton in a field near Shilstone Farm and is locally known as the Spinsters Rock.
Three vertical stones carry the cap or quoit. It fell in 1862 but was restored ten months later the uprights are set only 480-610 millimetres in the soil, a light granite gravel, and the combination of cultivation and heavy rain have disturbed its stability. The site was then excavated but yielded nothing, nor did the ground differ from that of the adjoining field. Stone circles and avenues formerly existed near the cromlech, which is the only one remaining standing in the county. At the time of its restoration a pavement of rough granite blocks was placed below ground level and around the cromlech in order to make it more secure. To this the uprights were tied by iron bars. The quoit was then placed in a notch cut in the northern stone instead of resting against it as before.


Carter, G. E. L., 1930, Second Report of the Archaeological Section, 120 (Article in Serial). SDV338842.


Tyler, F. C., 1930, The stone remains in Drewsteignton, 249-260 (Article in Serial). SDV238226.


Pilkington-Rogers, C. W, 1932, The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities, 382,385, map (Article in Serial). SDV149513.


Worth, R. H., 1937, 56th Report of the Barrow Committee, 92-3,pl.10 (Article in Serial). SDV20973.


Daniel, G., 1937, The Dolmens of Southern Britain, 195 (Article in Serial). SDV222218.


Radford, C., 1945, Interim Report of the Inclusion of Areas of Archaeological Importance in Nature Reserves, 140 (Article in Serial). SDV338183.


Worth, R. H., 1946, Stray notes on the Teign Valley, 161-4 (Article in Serial). SDV222207.


Daniel, G., 1953, Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of England and Wales, 7,21,52,237 (Monograph). SDV222213.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SX79SW1 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV222211.

Visited 8/4/1953 Restored monument is in good state of preservation. Suggested weight of 16 tons seems an exaggeration.
Visited 28/9/1953 Neolithic chambered round barrow.


Hoskins, W. G., 1954, A New Survey of England: Devon, 390 (Monograph). SDV17562.

Hoskins, w. G. /devon/(1964)390.


Fox, A., 1957, The Prehistoric Monuments of Dartmoor, 154 (Article in Serial). SDV304214.

Site possibly related to ridgeway along flank of Teign Valley.


Donn, B., 1965, A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint) (Monograph). SDV336413.

Shown on Donn's map.


Grinsell, L. V., 1970, Discovering Regional Archaeology: South Western England, 29, pl.7 (Monograph). SDV304192.


Grinsell, L. V., 1976, Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, 98 (Monograph). SDV304171.

Tradition has it that the burial chamber was erected by three spinsters one morning before breakfast. This tradition was current in 1789.


Grinsell, L. V., 1978, Dartmoor Barrows, 132 (Article in Serial). SDV273224.

(Visited on various dates between 1934-1975). Pasture. Burial chamber with no sign of mound. Siting, false crest? No measurements given.


Lawson, M. D., 1982, Spinster's Rock and its prehistoric context (Undergraduate Dissertation). SDV238218.

The monument was surveyed and consideration given to the descriptions made before the collapse in 1862, so that a pre-collapse plan could be attempted. Concluded that before the collapse the north stone had stood approximately 70 centimetres further north and that the capstone had rested at a higher point upon it, causing a tilt. The southern stone had also been moved during the restoration; turned approximately 20 degrees anti-clockwise, so that it no longer stood parallel to the southern edge of the capstone. The east stone was turned around approximately 90 degrees, and no longer stood in line with the north stone. A pre-reconstruction plan was drawn up (Lawson, 1982) and compared with the present plan. The original layout was more regular, with the north and east stones in line and the south stone parallel to them.


Department of Environment, 1992, Consent for erosion repair at Spinsters Rock, (4/3/1992) (Correspondence). SDV222230.

Consent granted for repair of erosion.


Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.), 1997, Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 1, 16-17, Colour plate (Monograph). SDV341166.

(Visited in late 18th century) Swete describes the remains of one of the ‘most perfect’ cromleks in the world which stands in a field belonging to a farm known as ‘Shel-stone’. The covering stone or quoit has three supporting stones – it rests upon the pointed tops of the southern and western one, but that on the ‘north side upholds it on its inclining surface somewhat below the top; its exterior side rising several inches higher than the inner part on which the superintendent stone is laid: this latter supporter is 7 feet high; indeed they are all of them of such an altitude, that I had not the least difficulty in passing under the covering stone, erect, and with my hat on.’ Swete measures the feature as 14.5 feet from the north to the south edge, (and a similar east-west measurement) and mentions the edges or angles appear to be aligned on the cardinal points. The width across was 10 feet. Further discussion on function of these monuments.


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

"Spinster's Rock burial chamber" is depicted on the modern mapping.


Ordnance Survey, 2012, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV348725.

Chambered tomb is clearly visible on the aerial photography. Map object is based on this source.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV149513Article in Serial: Pilkington-Rogers, C. W. 1932. The Date of the Dartmoor Antiquities. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 64. A5 Hardback. 382,385, map.
SDV17562Monograph: Hoskins, W. G.. 1954. A New Survey of England: Devon. A New Survey of England: Devon. A5 Hardback. 390.
SDV18670Article in Serial: Amery, P. F. S.. 1900-1901. A Tour across Dartmoor into North Devon by the Rev. John Swete 1789. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 1. Unknown. 88-96.
SDV20973Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1937. 56th Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 69. A4 Unbound. 92-3,pl.10.
SDV222202Article in Serial: Ormerod, G. W.. 1871. The Fall and Restoration of the Cromlech at Drewsteignton, in the County of Devon, 1862. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 4. Unknown. 345-350, 409-411.
SDV222204Article in Serial: Burnard, R.. 1891. Dartmoor Pictorial Records. Dartmoor Pictorial Records. 2. Unknown. 23.
SDV222207Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1946. Stray notes on the Teign Valley. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 78. Unknown. 161-4.
SDV222211Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SX79SW1. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV222213Monograph: Daniel, G.. 1953. Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of England and Wales. Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of England and Wales. Unknown. 7,21,52,237.
SDV222218Article in Serial: Daniel, G.. 1937. The Dolmens of Southern Britain. Antiquity. 11. Unknown. 195.
SDV222226Record Office Collection: Swete, R. J. (Revd). 1792. 'Crom-lek at Drewsteignton' (564M/F1/56). Devon Record Office Collection. Unknown. 564M/F1/56.
SDV222227Illustration: Williams, T. H.. 1804. Picturesque Excursions in Devonshire. Picturesque Excursions in Devonshire. Unknown. 100-105.
SDV222228Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1924. Schedule Document. The Schedule of Monuments. Unknown.
SDV222230Correspondence: Department of Environment. 1992. Consent for erosion repair at Spinsters Rock. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Unknown. (4/3/1992).
SDV231227Article in Serial: Burnard, R.. 1911. Address of the President. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 43. A5 Hardback. 45,53.
SDV238214Article in Serial: Victoria County History. 1906. The Victoria History of the County of Devon. Victoria History of the County of Devon. 1. Unknown. 348.
SDV238218Undergraduate Dissertation: Lawson, M. D.. 1982. Spinster's Rock and its prehistoric context. University of Exeter Dissertation. A4 Bound.
SDV238225Article in Serial: Ormerod, G. W.. 1872. Notice of prehistoric remains formerly existing near Drewsteignton Cromlech. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 5. Unknown. 73-74.
SDV238226Article in Serial: Tyler, F. C.. 1930. The stone remains in Drewsteignton. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 62. Unknown. 249-260.
SDV273224Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1978. Dartmoor Barrows. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 36. A5 Paperback. 132.
SDV277122Article in Serial: Wilkinson, J. G.. 1862. On British Remains on Dartmoor. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 18. Unknown. 45 pl.2.
SDV304171Monograph: Grinsell, L. V.. 1976. Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain. Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain. Unknown. 98.
SDV304192Monograph: Grinsell, L. V.. 1970. Discovering Regional Archaeology: South Western England. Discovering Regional Archaeology: South Western England. Unknown. 29, pl.7.
SDV304214Article in Serial: Fox, A.. 1957. The Prehistoric Monuments of Dartmoor. Archaeological Journal. 114. 154.
SDV336413Monograph: Donn, B.. 1965. A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint). A Map of the County of Devon, 1765 (Reprint). Hardback Volume.
SDV338183Article in Serial: Radford, C.. 1945. Interim Report of the Inclusion of Areas of Archaeological Importance in Nature Reserves. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 77. A5 Hardback. 140.
SDV338842Article in Serial: Carter, G. E. L.. 1930. Second Report of the Archaeological Section. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 62. A5 Hardback. 120.
SDV341166Monograph: Swete, J. (ed. Gray T. + Rowe, M.). 1997. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete. Vol. 1. Travels in Georgian Devon. The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Sw. 1. Hardback Volume. 16-17, Colour plate.
SDV346026Aerial Photograph: GeoInformation Group Ltd. 2010. 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution). 2010 Aerial Photographs. Digital.
SDV348725Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2012. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).

Associated Monuments

MDV8438Related to: ARTEFACT SCATTER in the Parish of Drewsteignton (Monument)
MDV8441Related to: Flints found near Spinster's Rock (Monument)
MDV8437Related to: Possible site of a stone circle near Spinsters Rock, Drewsteignton (Monument)
MDV7010Related to: Possible site of stone settings near Spinsters Rock (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Dec 17 2014 9:08AM