Thursday 25th May dawned without a cloud in the sky, and it continued with just blue sky and warm sunshine. Eleven of us gathered at the car park below Sharpitor and set off after a short briefing to see some of the Bronze Age archaeology on the lower slop of Leeden Tor, consisting of large ans small hust circles, one in a circular pound, and the Walkhampton Common Reave that runs from near the summit of Sharpitor almost to Princetown, along the high ground between the Walkhampton and Meavy rivers. Most of the photographs below were taken on reconnaissance walks when the sky was not so blue.
Sharpitor, SX 560 703, elevation 410 metres (1345 feet), owned since 1984 by Dartmoor Preservation Association and its members. This photograph was taken to show the diagonal linear feature running up the slope from lower- left towards upper-right. This is part of Walkhampton Common East Reave, more about which follows below and later.
One of three small hut circles, looking towards Sharpitor and the reave, with Leather Tor on the left skyline.
Large hut circle, SX 56225 71108.
Standing on Walkhampton Common East Reave, looking towards Sharpitor …..
Reaves – land boundaries of heaped stones
There are essentially four types of reaves:
- field boundaries to divide land into often long strip-like fields for grazing or growing crops, similar to modern walls or hedges
- terminal reaves that are uphill from field boundaries that marked lower divided areas from uphill open or “common” land
- reaves built usually along ridges to mark watersheds i.e. between river valleys
- long divisions over kilometres marking out territories, similar to parishes.
On the approach to Leeden Tor there is a rock pile that is vaguely reminiscent of the DPA logo, Bowerman’s Nose?
Leeden Tor, SX 5630 7180, elevation 389 metres (1276 feet), there are several outcrops and piles around this point.
Ingra Tor cairn and cist at SX 55877 72083 …..
The capstone of the cist is displaced …..
A photograph obtained from inside the cist – the best of several taken pointing the camera in slightly different directions!
The small pits filled with rushes have been described as “stone pits”, presumably as an easy source of stones – a forerunner to quarrying?
Ingra Tor, SX 555 721, elevation 339 metres (1112 feet) ….. the quarry is cut into the reverse side of the tor ….. be aware when exploring!
There are two well-preserved crane bases left in the base of the quarry.
The photograph above shows some remains of the small railway stop at Ingra Tor Halt. The station opened on 2nd March 1936, long after Burrator & Sheepstor Halt (opened 1924), King Tor Halt (opened 1928) for when Ingra Tor quarry was waste stone was reworked for road making.
Cripsin Gill (1970), Dartmoor – A New Study, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, In: Chapter 8, Recreation, by Brian Le Mesurier, page 239, relates a once-famous railway notice at Ingra Tor Halt ….
Great Western Railway Company
In the interests of game preservation
and for their own protection against
snakes, dogs should be kept on a lead.
The first iron railway on Dartmoor, the Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway opened in 1823, using horse-drawn wagons: it ran from Princetown to Crabtree on the outskirts of Plymouth; it was later extended to reach Sutton Pool harbour: this extension was later sold to the South Devon Railway, later to become the South Devon and Tavistock Railway. In November 1877, plans were proposed for the Princetown Railway to run from Yelverton to Princetown on the route of the Plymouth & Dartmoor Railway, built to accommodate steam locomotives. Part of the design was the building of a line east of Yennadon Down, the track of which remains above Burrator Reservoir, near Devonport Leat. It opened on 11 August 1883. The line was operated by the Great Western Railway, but owned by the Princetown Railway until 1 January 1922 when the Company amalgamated with the GWR. The line passed to British Railways in 1948 and was closed on 3 March 1956.
Under the cattle “creep” bridge near the quarry, a stone block recycled from the old tramway showing the holes used to fix the plates that held the iron rails …..
A groove worn by or made to house the rail can be seen running vertically in the surface of the stone …..
Zoomed view under the bridge at massed bluebells, with Hucken Tor in the distance.
Looking over the wall at the ruins of Babyland ….. originally a Medieval longhouse, running down the slope for the drainage of animal waste? Babyland Deserted Farmstead north-east of Routrundle, Walkhampton – extracts ….
- FARMSTEAD (Early Medieval to Post Medieval – 1066 AD to 1750 AD (Between))
- Turfed over ruin in field north-west of present Routrundle. Cottage with croft and outbuildings. Probably the previous site of the modern Routrundle Farm.
Information from the Devon & Dartmoor Historic Environment Record
Looking over the field wall from further along the track …..
The ruins are shown as Babyland on the Walkhampton Tithe Map; also shown are two Bronze Age circular pounds that are now incorporated into what is probably a Medieval field system.
The photograph above is taken from south-west of Routrundle from a location where the circular pound can be seen clearly.
This Google Earth image shows the two pounds as well as the ruins of Babyland – an elongate structure running up and down the slope which is typical of Medieval longhouses for drainage purposes.
An Ordnance Survey benchmark seen on the side of the bridle path at SX 55729 71303.
Being flat on the ground, on an earth-bound stone, this benchmark lacks the horizontal line component across the top of the arrow, instead, it has a hole .
This Ordnance Survey map from 1884 shows the benchmark in the photos above as B.M. 1046.6. It must have seen many feet pass by over the years!
This was an enjoyable day with a lot of talking!