Grimspound, Devon

Clamber around rocks at Grimspound to explore a monumental enclosure, Bronze Age homes and prehistoric animal pens

Grimspound

Dartmoor’s most impressive prehistoric site sprawls over a gorse-covered slope in the heart of the moor. Grimspound’s immense tumbledown wall encircles 1.45 hectares and the jagged remains of 24 stone houses. In Dartmoor ‘Grim’ is another name for the Devil, while pound means enclosure; giving an insight into who early people thought had built it. The truth is more prosaic. This late Bronze Age settlement was probably built by farmers in search of a summer moorland base. The vast enclosure helped contain their animals and keep predators out.

Today the sweeping perimeter stands around 1.5 metres high and five to nine metres wide, with three entrances providing access. Inside grassy paths lead visitors between the round houses (sometimes called huts) and into the homes themselves. These often knee-high circles of stones are surprisingly small, around three metres across, and their ruined nature means imagination is required to recreate a picture of the past. It’s thought the Bronze Age scene could have been of one metre high walls, with a ring of wooden posts on top, which supported a conical thatched roof of heather, gorse or straw.

Excavations carried out in 1894 suggest some 13 of the round houses were lived in; the others were possibly used for storage and stock. The dig unearthed relatively few finds (including a polished stone and five flints – one a knife and one a scraper), but also revealed 11 of the houses had hearths and eight had cooking holes, where food was heated by pebbles warmed on the fire. 

Don’t miss: the stone paving leading up to the impressive original entrance on the enclosure’s southeast edge.

Belinda Dixon

Information

Grimspound, six miles southwest of Moretonhampstead, off the B3212, Devon

It is managed by Dartmoor National Park Authority  

www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk

Higher Moorland tourist information

tel: 01822 890414
 

Location

Grimspound
United Kingdom
50° 36' 47.2572" N, 3° 50' 14.3844" W
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