Dartmoor National Park Conservation Works Team has been busy this week, working with archaeologists to make repairs to the nationally important medieval settlement at Hound Tor.
Repairs are needed periodically to replace stones which have been dislodged by cattle rubbing, erosion or human interference. The work involves identifying where stones originated in the walls of the buildings and repositioning them in their original locations – occasionally using discrete amounts of glue to ensure the stones remain in place.
Andy Crabb, Archaeologist for Dartmoor National Park said: "The work to ensure this important site is conserved is something we normally do regularly. However, due to some very wet winters in recent years we haven’t been able to get onto the site. This has meant that there are more stones to replace than normal. The majority of damage takes the form of dislodged and removed stones from the outer faces and wall tops of the buildings. All of these stones constitute 1990s consolidation works and therefore form a protective course over the medieval fabric. Some stones have been placed on the walls by well- intentioned people who have discovered them lying on the ground, but these also have to be relocated in their original positions. It is important to remember not to move stones within an archaeological site. This year there is also some fire damage to the floor in the centre of one of the buildings which will need to be repaired. This damage was not done with the best of intentions and the site of the fire will take some time to recover."
Houndtor is a small hamlet with the remains of four farmhouses, four smaller houses or outbuildings and three buildings constructed to dry cereals. There are paddocks, gardens and lanes and a very extensive field system. It is believed that the hamlet was established sometime during the 13th century and abandoned some 150 to 200 years later.
The site is one of the most well-known and complete of its type in the country. It is managed by Dartmoor National Park on behalf of English Heritage and protected by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Area Act 1979. It is an offence to cause damage to the site in any way – this includes lighting fires, pitching tents or moving stones about.
Dartmoor’s archaeology is one of its greatest assets, attracting visitors from far and wide and providing us with a link to our ancestors stretching back into the Bronze Age. Please help us by respecting these sites to ensure they are still around and in good order for future generations to enjoy.