Holwell Tor Excavation

The Holwell Tor Project aims to increase our understanding of roundhouses, especially of isolated examples like that at Holwell Tor, and also of the environment in which it and the reave system of which it was part was constructed and used. DNPA archaeologists led the project, working with a team of volunteers and the Universities of Bournemouth and Brighton which carried out more technical aspects of the work such as geoarchaeological, geochemical and geophysical analysis.

Excavating the roundhouse

The first phase of the project focused on the remains of a prehistoric roundhouse believed to be of Middle Bronze Age date (c.1,500 BC) which was located within a wider, contemporary pattern of field boundaries (or ‘reaves) visible on the surface as low, linear stony banks.

Geophysical survey was undertaken in the summer of 2017, followed by a two week season of excavation during September 2018.

You can watch the progress of the excavation on our Facebook page

What was found

Analysis is still ongoing but preliminary results include unusual features associated with the construction and use of the structure, indications of gradual soil deterioration in the vicinity over the course of the site’s use and strong evidence for Mesolithic activity around 5,000BC, long before the construction of the roundhouse.

The project so far has produced invaluable insights into prehistoric Dartmoor and it is hoped to continue the work as an innovative community archaeology project in future years.

This project was undertaken as part of the Moor Than Meets the Eye Landscape Partnership Scheme funded by Heritage Lottery Fund