Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

Antiquities of Black Newtake and environs

The pentalogy of Jeremy Butler books titled Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities provides a rich source of information to any Dartmoor enthusiast. Published over 30 years ago, these books provided fabulous details of antiquities across the national park and were invaluable (especially pre-internet day) for any explorations. Volume two (the north), covers the commons of South Tawton, Belstone and Okehampton southwards to the Tavistock – Moretonhampstead road and Dartmeet. This post was inspired by map 27 (figure 27.14) within the aforementioned volume which described the distribution of cairns (and cists) to the south and south west of Bellever Tor especially inside Black Newtake. Also within the environs of Black Newtake there in a boundstone and the (now dry) course of Brimpts Mine Leat. The author was fortunate enough to see a young deer and a cuckoo whilst taking photographs for this post.

Black Newtake is located to the south west of Bellever Tor and contains 6 of the 10 cairns (numbered 3-8) covered in this post. The sketch map shows the approx. location of the stiles in the area, which allows access to the various newtakes. The author has kept the same numbering convention as Jeremy Butler in his publication.
1. Cairn 1a
En-route to cairn 1, the author spotted a young deer, who didn’t appear that timid. That said, when approached (as he/she was in the direction to locate the cairn), the young deer headed towards the forest and kept looking back. Eventually, the cairn was found with the young deer behind it. It was as if the deer was showing the author the way to the antiquity.
2. Young Deer a
3. Young Deer b
Beautiful colours and shiny nose.
4. Young Deer c
Not in a hurry to leave. The author was only 50-100m away.
5. Cairn 1b
Cairn 1 lies on the edge of the plantation and was first recorded in 1890. At that time, it had already been dug into with the upcast being thrown out on the north side.
6. Cairn 1c
The cairn has been recorded as being 7.7 metre diameter with a 0.8 metre high mound. It is aligned NNW to SSE. It can be found at SX64081 76469.
7. Cairn 1d
Detail of cairn 1.
8. Cairn 2a
Butler states that cairn 2 (which is still shown on OS Maps) is possibly not an artificial mound but merely heather covered rocks. An “un-natural” upright slab, stated as being 6m from the cairn (as show in picture) completes the description.
9. Cairn 2b
The upright stone lies under the branches of a large conifer.
10. Cairn 2c
The probable cairn is the heather covered mound in the foreground. It is located at SX64144 76275
These two maps compare the 19th century OS map and the Jeremey Butler map of the cairns in Black Newtake. Of interest on the 19th century map is that cairn “4” is not recorded and a “stone” is marked just outside the newtake wall.
11. Boundstone a
The boundstone as marked on the 19th century map is still in situ.
12. Boundstone b
The boundstone is not recorded on the Dartmoor Environment Record (HER) and is not inscribed. The author is unaware of the reason why this boundstone was placed here at SX64074 76095.
13. Stile
Stile for access into Black Newtake can be found at SX64105 75977
14. Cairn 3a
Cairn 3 lies within Black Newtake. It has two “pairs” of stones on opposite sides which mark the ring cairn. The central cist is rather quite complete, except for the cover stone.
15. Cairn 3b
Cairn 3 can be found at SX63915 76072.
16. Cairn 4a
Cairn 4 is a ring cairn, a circular rubble bank about 11 metres across and 0.5 metres high surrounding an interior raised slightly above the outside ground surface. Butler records a single slab which faces the circle 4.5 metres away to the south-east, which can be seen in the foreground of the picture.
17. Cairn 4b
Cairn 4 is located at SX63852 76027
18. Cairn 5a
Cairn 5 is a substantial mound a metre high. It has a covering of gorse.
19. Cairn 5b
Cairn 5 is further described as being trenched at ground level from the north edge into the centre but with no sign of a cist. The cairn can be found at SX63854 75987.
20. Cairn 6a
Jeremy Butler described cairn 6 as having seven slabs remaining around the north-east edge. These were located by the author, albeit some are turfed over. One side and one end slab of the central cist are missing.
21. Cairn 6b
Cairn 6 can be found at SX63887 75863
22. Cairn 7a
Butler states that cairn 7 is a doubtful site as being a cairn. In fact, referring to the Dartmoor HER, this site was re-classified by the Ordnance Survey (1979) and Royal Commission (1989) as a hut circle. It has an internal diameter 8.5m but is very overgrown as can be seen from the pictures
23. Cairn 7b
Cairn 7 can be found at SX63858 75782.
24. Cairn 8a
The last antiquity in Black Newtake is labelled as cairn 8. The cist in this cairn was described as being an imperfect ruin as far back as 1890. As described by Butler, only a few scattered stones mark and approximate site today.
25. Cairn 8b
Cairn 8 is located at SX63848 75729
26. Stile
Stile at southern end of Black Newtake can be found at SX63723 75567
27. Brimpts Mine Leat a
Brimpts Mine Leat is around 4 miles in length from a headweir on the Cherry Brook, just below Higher Cherrybrook Bridge. It was used to supply tin mining activities near Brimpts Farm. The picture shows a section of the leat above Smith Hill farm looking towards the Cherry Brook.
28. Brimpts Mine Leat b
The picture shows a section of Brimpts Mine Leat above Smith Hill farm looking east.
29. Brimpts Mine Leat c
Brimpts Mine Leat snakes around the contours to the east of Black Newtake near cairn 10. The picture shows the section of the leat above cairn 10. looking north to Bellever Tor.
Brimpts Mine Leat d
The picture shows the section of the Brimpts Mine leat above cairn 10, snaking around the hill contours looking west.
31. Stonechat
32. Cairn 9a
Cairn 9 lies outside and to the south of Black Newtake. It has a very slight mound with a small central cist with all four stones in place but with the cover slab missing.
33. Cairn 9b
Butler describes Cairn 9 as having no trace of the retaining circle but the two stones outside the long sides of the cist probably form part of an inner ring. Cairn 9 can be located at SX63588 75465.
34. Hut Circle
There is a settlement at Dunna Brook enroute to cairn 10 which is centred around a square enclosure containing a medium sized free standing hut of 6 metres diameter. 
35. Hut Circle
The hut circle in the picture is located at SX63888 75594.
36. Cairn 10a
All that remains of Cairn 10 is a single side slab of a cist and can be found a few metres (downhill) from Brimpts Mine leat.
37. Cairn 10b
The cist has clearly been robbed cist and is (was) circa 0.6 metres by 1.4 metres. There is no evidence of a cairn (which was mentioned by Worth). It is located at SX64072 75691
38. Cuckoo
Cuckoo. Not a pin sharp picture as this was over 200m away.
39. Hut Circle
Butler describes the Dunna Brook head (northern) settlement as including a single oval shaped hut 4.5 metres by 3 metres with a yard attached to the perimeter wall. 
40. Hut Circle
The hut circle can be found at SX64113 75945.
41. Blocked Gate Bellever
Leaving the area, this walled in gate made a great frame for Bellever Tor in this picture.

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