Dartmoor Explorations

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

WISTMAN’S WARREN

Wistman’s Warren (Warreners’ house and enclosures) lies just over 400 metres west-south-west of Longaford Tor, forming part of a rabbit warren on the western slopes of Longaford and Littaford Tors. The Dartmoor Heritage Environment Record (HER) states: “According to Hemery `Wistmans Warren’ (ie the pillar mounds) were built in 1895 as part of a sporting enterprise for James Saltroun of Powder Mills, in common with other mounds close to Crockern. He employed a warrener, James Rooke, who lived in a wood and tin shack at Wistmans Wood; presumably the present site. It had been abandoned prior to World War I . The extant remains suggest something more substantial than a shack (possible Building B) and possibly a little earlier. It is possibly a farmstead later adapted when the warren was established, though a context for one is unknown. A deserted Medieval settlement as indicated by source is unlikely and Building A does not seem to be a longhouse as tentatively suggested.”

Wistman's Warren Location
Map of Wistman’s Warren and enclosures location. It lies just to the north of the most northern copse of Wistman’s Wood.
Wistman's Warren sketch
This sketch of the warren site is the authors interpretation based on a visit and the descriptions of each of the locations from the Dartmoor HER.
Building A-1
Stated in the Dartmoor HER as “A rectangular turf-covered platform measuring 12.6 metres by 3.7 metres internally, standing 0.4 metres high and levelled into the slope. Its long axis runs along the contours.”. This location (SX61175 77792).
Building A-2
The Dartmoor HER also states: “This particular platform, by its size and shape (rectangular 15m x 4m) could well be the site of a Medieval longhouse”, albeit Hemery disagrees with this. There does appear to the the faint outline of a building on a levelled platform.
Building A-3
Similar view of Building A, as the previous photograph
Building A - 4
Building A foundations from the north end, looking back at the most northern copse of Wistman’s Wood. The Dartmoor HER also states: “The site, with the exception of the south-west enclosure wall, is probably the remains of a post-Medieval farmstead, or perhaps a Warrener’s house.”
Building B - 1
The Dartmoor HER states: “A faint, stoney line breaking turf defines a small rectangular structure 6m x 3m”. This location at SX61173 77786, seems to fit the description.
Building B-2
Another view of Building B
General 1
Buildings A and B (reedy areas) as viewed from the south
General 2
General view of the site from east
Wallen Enclosure 1
Just downhill from Buildings A and B is a walled enclosure and a yard. It is located at SX61154 77787.
Walled Enclosure 2
The Dartmoor HER states: “The yard is rectangular, measuring 7.6 metres by 5.4 metres internally, with an opening into the main enclosure. The interior is rough, undulating and still contains uncleared slabs. It is possibly an area, where rabbits were prepared prior to market and sale.” This walled enclosure fits the above description with regards the interior.
Walled Enclosure 3
The walled enclosure appears to lead to a wider yard
Yard 1
To the north of the “walled enclosure” is an area, which the author has labelled the yard. The Dartmoor HER is a little confusing but this may be “The south-west platform measures about 9m x 7m and is enclosed by a tumbled wall.”
Yard 2
The “yard” is a very obvious feature at SX61156 77794.
Yard 3
Another angle of the “yard”, looking across the West Dart to Beardown Tors.
Yard 4
The “yard” has boulders on its western edge. A pillow mound is nearby.
Pillow Mound 1
The Dartmoor HER describes this as: “A flat-topped linear mound 7 metres long, 2.5 metres wide and 0.5 metres high with a slight ditch around the east end. traces of a small central channel run along the flat top. This seems a most unusual place to keep rabbits, unless it is chronologically earlier than the Warren house. It abutts the east wall of the Yard C.”. This man-made mound at SX61163 77813, appears to more or less fit the description.
Pillow Mound 2
The pillow mound perpendicularly abutts the “yard” , as per the description
Wentworth Buller 2
A little further south from the warren on the edge of Wistman’s Wood is the Wentworth Buller stone. It is very conspicuous and difficult to miss.
Wentworth Buller 1
Location of the Wentworth Buller stone
Wentworth Buller 3
BY PERMISSION OF
HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES
WENTWORTH BULLER
ON SEPT 16th 1868 CUT DOWN A TREE NEAR THIS SPOT
IT MEASURED 9IN IN DIAMETER
AND APPEARED TO BE ABOUT
163 YEARS OLD.
Wentworth Buller 4
Eric Hemery quoted: “Near the higher verge of the central grove stands a huge triangular slab; this bears an inscription to mark the felling of a young oak by the botanist Wentworth Buller in 1866, part of the trunk later being deposited in the Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.” NOTE: The date on the stone is 1868, not 1866 as quoted by Hemery, a simple typographical error
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