<< Our Photo Pages >> Tunhill Rocks - Ancient Village or Settlement in England in Devon

Submitted by AngieLake on Monday, 27 August 2012  Page Views: 3411

Multi-periodSite Name: Tunhill Rocks Alternative Name: Tunhill Rocks Homestead, Tunhill Rocks Farmstead
Country: England County: Devon Type: Ancient Village or Settlement
Nearest Town: Ashburton  Nearest Village: Widecombe in the Moor
Map Ref: SX7318975796
Latitude: 50.568110N  Longitude: 3.791998W
Condition:
5Perfect
4Almost Perfect
3Reasonable but with some damage
2Ruined but still recognisable as an ancient site
1Pretty much destroyed, possibly visible as crop marks
0No data.
-1Completely destroyed
2 Ambience:
5Superb
4Good
3Ordinary
2Not Good
1Awful
0No data.
4 Access:
5Can be driven to, probably with disabled access
4Short walk on a footpath
3Requiring a bit more of a walk
2A long walk
1In the middle of nowhere, a nightmare to find
0No data.
3 Accuracy:
5co-ordinates taken by GPS or official recorded co-ordinates
4co-ordinates scaled from a detailed map
3co-ordinates scaled from a bad map
2co-ordinates of the nearest village
1co-ordinates of the nearest town
0no data
5

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Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : This is the ruined structure that I believed to be the hut Butler referred to in 1991. Quote: "The large hut (7.0 m) still has a well-preserved double-slabbed wall though the entrance which was on the south, downhill side is no longer obvious. The interior is very uneven due to the excavation the major find of which was a large part of a thick-walled cooking vessel which had been much used befor... (Vote or comment on this photo)
Ancient Village or Settlement in Devon
This site is well worth a visit if you are in the area of Foale’s Arrishes, Top Tor and Pil Tor. It is situated just to the SW of Pil Tor down an easy track overlooking some lovely scenery, especially towards Widecombe in the valley to NE, and the ridge of tors including Chinkwell Tor to the north.

The small enclosure which Butler describes as a ‘farmstead’, and which is marked ‘Homestead’ on the OS map ‘Outdoor Leisure 28 Dartmoor’, has the remains of just one hut, and another (which I didn’t see) which is much smaller and rectangular rather than round.
Butler was writing over 20 years ago, as my ‘Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquites , Volume One – The East’ was published in 1991, so the remains of those huts may have altered over the years. However, I believed that the upright slabs belonged to the larger hut, which he says was 7.0 m, and the enclosure was easily seen, including more slabs filling in spaces between the natural boundary of rocks.
Butler tells us that:
“West of Tunhill Rocks the ground falls steeply down to the East Webburn river and the village of Widecombe. The small farmstead here lies on the flat ground on the opposite side, tucked into the eastern edge of the rocks. A slabbed bank added on to the end of a reave forms a small enclosure (20x26 m) surrounding two huts. Some of the tor rocks form part of the boundary, the spaces between them filled by sections of bank. The huts were excavated in 1896 by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee and a report was presented in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association the following year. The large hut (7.0 m) still has a well-preserved double-slabbed wall though the entrance which was on the south, downhill side is no longer obvious. The interior is very uneven due to the excavation the major find of which was a large part of a thick-walled cooking vessel which had been much used before being broken. The pottery was of a type found in other hut excavations and the other finds were also typical: a cooking stone, flint, charcoal and a piece of slate.
The second building is much smaller (approx. 3x2 m) and lies close to the tor rocks. The foundations are rectangular rather than round which is unusual for a prehistoric building on Dartmoor but not unique. The excavators considered it to be contemporary with the larger hut because of the similarity of some of the pottery found on the original floor level and suggested it may have been a kitchen or even a small dwelling, though 6 square metres seems rather cramped for this purpose. A few shards of a much better made article, probably a small cup, were also found, together with several good flint implements and charcoal."

I took a photograph across the hut circle towards the rocks, and from that angle there were two 'head-shaped' rocks protruding from the main mass. It struck me that the occupants of the hut might have seen this as symbolic of some kind of twin 'god-image'. The centre of the rock pile seemed to form a kind of shelter, too, but I didn't climb down there. A great place to grow up in for adventurous boys and girls!

Update December 2019: This site is featured on the Prehistoric Dartmoor Walks (PDW) website - see their entry for the Tunhill Rocks Settlement. The settlement is also recorded as Pastscape Monument No. 445121, as MDV7438 (Hut Circle Settlement on the east side of Tunhill Rocks) on the Devon and Dartmoor HER, and scheduled as Historic England List Entry No. 1003286 (Hut circle at Tunhill Rocks).
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Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : Head-shaped knobbles of granite on Tunhill Rocks, above the settlement area. (Vote or comment on this photo)

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : Approaching Tunhill Rocks downslope towards SW from Pil Tor above Foale's Arrishes. 22nd August 2012. (1 comment - Vote or comment on this photo)

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : A closer view of the central area of the enclosure wall/reave, with Rippon Tor in the distance. Butler says: "A slabbed bank added on to the end of a reave forms a small enclosure (20x26 m) surrounding two huts." (Vote or comment on this photo)

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : Here is the view across the hut remains towards Tunhill Rocks. The two 'head-like' knobbles on the top from this angle made me wonder if the occupants thought they were symbolic of 'god-like' images. (Vote or comment on this photo)

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : The hut at Tunhill Rocks settlement from the SE approx. Butler does refer to the fact that "the entrance which was on the south, downhill side is no longer obvious". (Vote or comment on this photo)

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : Some small upright pointed slabs remain of the enclosure wall where it links the large rock, right, to the main pile of Tunhill Rocks, left of this view. Chinkwell Tor in distance to the north, with the slopes of Hameldown to its left.

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : On entering the enclosure, my first view towards my right along the enclosure wall/reave, here looking north towards Chinkwell Tor which is part of an imposing ridge above Widecombe in the Moor.

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : This was my first view on entering the enclosure, of what I believed to be the hut circle, looking approx south here along the enclosure wall/reave.

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : A view from above, across the middle of the enclosure towards Pil Tor. The foreground stones are just part of the first stage of Tunhill Rocks.

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : Looking down on the enclosure from the first level of the rocks. The enclosure walls can be seen here (to left of previous view), and even between the large rock to the left and the main mass of Tunhill Rocks. Those are the two piles of rock forming Pil Tor not far away on top of the hill. (Foales' Arrishes is below Pil Tor and the ridge it shares with Top Tor.)

Tunhill Rocks
Tunhill Rocks submitted by AngieLake : Looking down on the enclosure from the first level of the rocks. The enclosure wall runs from right to left across the middle and to right of centre is what I believed to be the round hut. The two rock piles of Pil Tor are in the distance to NE.

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Nearby sites listing. In the following links * = Image available
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