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Upper Erme Valley

The Upper Erme Valley PAL contains the world’s longest stone row as well as several prehistoric settlements and a high concentration of tinner’s buildings.

The remotely sited prehistoric stone row, constructed about 4000 years ago, runs northwards parallel with the River Erme, which it crosses half way, for a distance of 3.4km (just over two miles). There are almost 1000 stones in the row, mostly very small.

Extensive prehistoric settlement, around 3,500 years old, survives along the River Erme between Dry Lake and Red Lake.  The remains of stone built round houses (hut circles) lie scattered on both sides of the river, some free-standing, others in enclosures formed by dry stone walls impressively visible in the landscape.  Erme pound, located on the western slopes of Black Heath is amongst the largest surviving on Dartmoor.

The entire length of the Upper Erme valley floor has been worked for tin. The surrounding tributaries have also been extensively investigated. These tinworks are some of the largest, but also amongst the most remote on the moor and it is of no surprise that a large number of stone built rectangular tinner’s buildings (built for shelter and storage) survive in the area. At least 28 structures have been identified; these were probably built in medieval or later times.

The stone row and many of the settlement sites have been designated as Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs).

The entire PAL falls within the South Dartmoor SSSI and Dartmoor SAC. The area includes a mosaic of valuable habitats including acidic grassland, Western Heath, valley mire and bracken.  

No UK BAP species are known to be present in this area but Curlew and Red Grouse are found on adjacent land.

What it should look like: This area contains areas of heather, wet heath and valley mire in addition to extensive areas of acid grassland. This variety of habitats will require maintenance and enhancement whilst the overall objective is for low vegetation (5 to 10 cm) over the majority of the PAL.

Page last updated: 23 Feb 2006
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