Prehistoric Dartmoor Walks, walking the Stone Rows and Stone Circles of Dartmoor
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Dartmoor Site: Grimspound Enclosed Settlement

Grimspound Enclosed Settlement

Grimspound Prehistoric Pound


Grimspound (SX70078084) is the best known of the prehistoric pounds or enclosed settlements on Dartmoor. It is a short walk across Headland Warren from the Warren House Inn. The massive enclosure walls are visible from quite some distance. They enclose a number of hut circles.

There are numerous enclosed settlements on Dartmoor and they date from the Late Bronze Age. It is thought that the stone circles and stone rows came much earlier in the late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age. This is illustrated by the example of the Erme Pound Rings on Southern Dartmoor where the enclosure wall incorporated part of the Hooke Lake double stone row. To the builders of this enclosure the stone rows already belonged to a remote and distant past. Their enclosure wall took precedence over an old redunant structure although they choose to inorporate it into the wall and leave the rest of the rows in tact.

It is thought that the settlements of the Neolithic were more likely to have been built using wood and were probably on higher ground. As Dartmoor gradually became deforrested from the Neolithic onwards structures tended to be built on the forest margins which became lower as the centuries rolled by. The Late Bronze Age stone hut circles and settlements tended to be on lower ground than the megalithic monuments of the Early Bronze Age. Although many are to be found in close proximity.

Grimspound is perhaps the best known enclosed settlement and certainly one of the largest although the Riders Rings, near the Avon reservoir, is comparable in size and significance although considerably less well known. There are thousands of hut circles on Dartmoor dating from this period and it was common for a small group of them to be surrounded by a wall although most are far less substantial than the enclosure wall at Grimspound.

The remains we see today at Grimspound is the result of the reconstruction of parts of the enclosure wall and some of the hut circles in the 1890s. This was a very significant part of the history of archaelogical study on Dartmoor. The 1893 excavations of Grimspound were the first serious scientific archaelogical digs carried out on Dartmoor. It was the birth of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee of the Devonshire Association. The first report of the Dartmoor Exploration committee, written by Sabine Baring-Gould and published in 1894, consisted entirely of an account of the results of the excavations and explorations at Grimspound. The committee which included famous explorers such as Richard Hansford Worth and Robert Burnard continued this work for decades. There is some controversy about the reconstructions that they carried out but it should be remembered that they acted in accordance with the standards of their day and that they were deeply concerned that if the scientific community did not document and attempt to preserve ruined sites, often with attempts at "accurate" reconstruction, then the sites were at high risk of being blundered for the freely available granite blocks for the road builders and new-take wall builders. Of course the standards of the digs and reconstructions carried out by the D.E.C. fall far short of modern arachaelogical standards.

Worth was critical of some of the aspects of the reconstruction at Grimspound and was behind the minorty report that apeared in the 1895 Second Report of he D.E.C. (see below).

For more information on Grimspound there are extensive notes in the NMR record (SX 78 SW 11), see also coverage on Wikipedia and Legendary Dartmoor.

These photos were taken on the 14th June 2014.

Bibliography & references

Baring-Gould, Sabine, The Exploration of Grimspound. First Report of The Dartmoor Exploration Committee, T.D.A. Vol. 26 pp.101-21 (1894)
Baring-Gould, Sabine, Second Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, T.D.A. Vol. 27 pp.81-92 (1895)
Chapman, Lesley, The Ancient Dwelling of Grimspound and Hound Tor: Two Deserted Settlements in th, (1996)

Grimspound Enclosed Settlement

Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound

Grimspound Prehistoric Pound

Grimspound Prehistoric Pound
Grimspound Prehistoric Pound

Page last updated 23/9/14