Hingston Hill

Stone alignment curving towards a particularly impressive kerbed cairn. View from north east.

An impressive single stone row measuring 351m long, originally including around 174 mainly medium and small-sized stones together with some large orthostats situated in a slight col between high ground to the south west and north east. The row is orientated ENE to WSW and has a sea view reveal and visual links to the landscape.  There is a cairn at the upper (WSW) end and a tall pillar at the other. The row stands near a circular enclosure, several cairns, cists, prehistoric settlements and reaves.

Location

England     Devon     Dartmoor     SX 58697 69267     Lat 50.506101   Long -3.9940245

Map showing the location of Hingston Hill stone row.

Simplified plan of Hingston Hill stone alignment. (Source: Butler, J., 1994).

Characteristics

Type: Single Length: 351m
No. of stones: 157 Size of stones: Small, medium and large
Orientation: 70° Altitude: 367m
Upper end: Cairn Lower end: Pillar
Straight (Yes or No)  : No Sea View: Yes
Context:  Cairns, enclosure, reave and prehistoric settlement
Notes: This row is sometimes called the Down Tor stone row.  

Other Information

Public Access:  Yes
Land Status: National Park
Scheduled Ancient Monument: Yes

Identification

Category: Plausible. No doubts have been expressed regarding the prehistoric interpretation of this row.


Typology

This stone row is of Type S12. Information on this form of stone row and other rows of this type is available here.


Photographs

16th April 2013

Kerbed cairn at the upper end of the alignment. View from west (Scale 1m).

Kerbed cairn and alignment. View from south west.

Looking along the row. View from the south west.

Stone alignment leading towards the kerbed cairn. View from the east (Scale 1m).

Looking north east along the row (Scale 1m).

Large boulders in the vicinity of the alignment were not used in its construction. View from west.

The alignment approaching the kerbed cairn. Another cairn is visible on the skyline. View from east (Scale 1m). 

The alignment, in common with all long rows is sinuous in form. A precise straight line was clearly not needed. View from north east (Scale 1m).

This short length of the row has been mutilated by tinworking activity. View from south west (Scale 1m).

Various shifts in the orientation of the alignment are clearly visible. View from north east. 

The size and shape of the stones varies considerably. Along this length the stones are mainly small or medium sized. View from south (Scale 1m).

In this part of the row tiny stones are present. Considerable variety in stone size is a feature of most long rows. View from south west (Scale 1m).

A mixture of large and small stones. View from south (Scale 1m).

Looking south west along the row towards the kerbed cairn. The subtle shifts in orientation are clearly apparent.

The curving and sinuous character of the alignment is clearly discernible. View from north east.

The curving and sinuous character of the alignment is clearly discernible as is the considerable variety in stone size with three large orthostats being included along with much smaller stones. View from north east.

The north eastern end of the alignment is denoted by a substantial pillar.

13th May 2019

Kerbed cairn at the western end of the row. View from above and north west (Scale 1m).

The kerbed cairn and row. View from west (Scale 1m).

View from the south west (Scale 1m).

Kerbed cairn and first stone of the row with cairn on the near skyline. View from east (Scale 1m).

The stone row leading towards the kerbed cairn. View from east.

Looking west along the row towards the cairn.

Looking eastward along the row.

The row approaching the kerbed cairn. A cairn is clearly visible on the skyline. View from east (Scale 1m).

A cairn beyond the eastern end of the row probably formed part of the ritual activity at Hingston Hill.

The cairn is clearly visible from the row and appears on the skyline along part of the row’s length.

The wobbly form of this row is clearly discernible and is very reminiscent of the character of modern day footpaths.  It is this form of row that suggests that at least some of the rows were erected sometime after the special route had been established.

The eastern length of the row. View from the west.

Length of row leading to the kerbed cairn together with a skyline cairn. View from east.

Row and cairn. View from the south east.

The Hingston Hill stone row is often known as Down Tor stone row. This photograph taken from the top of Down Tor illustrates that only the eastern end of the row is visible with the remainder hidden by the lower slopes. This shows very clearly that the row is built across the line of visibility to Down Tor.

The Eastern Cairn

The row is aligned upon a cairn at SX 59199 69453.  Despite being 180m from the eastern end of the row it seems very likely that the row and the cairn probably at one time were seen as forming part of the same experience.  View from north west (Scale 1m).

Row in the background and cairn in the foreground. View from east.

A circular enclosure formed by large stones and rubble at SX 59115 69478 is almost certainly prehistoric and possibly associated with the stone row.  It is tempting to think of it as upland variation on a henge, although the possibility that it represents an animal enclosure cannot be discounted. 

Landscape Comment

Walking along this row a large number of visual links with landscape features are apparent.  Some of these are considered below and together emphasise the links between the row and the landscape in which it was constructed. 13 separate points along the row are considered. Their positions are shown in the plan below.

1 [SX 58700 69271]

At this point North Hessary Tor is at the limit of visibility and disappears from sight at point 2 (SX 58719 69282) about 15m along the row. The western terminal of the row may have been positioned to provide this visual link.

Great Mis Tor is also visible from the top of the row and remains in view until point 3 (SX 58743 69290) about 45m along the row. This tor is also visible from the eastern end of the row.


2 [SX 58719 69282]

North Hessary Tor disappears from view at this location.


3 [SX 58743 69290]

Great Mis Tor disappears from view at this location. At the same spot Great Trowlesworthy Tor is framed by Combshead Tor.

Great Trowlesworthy Tor appears in triangle formed by Combshead Tor and rising ground but soon disappears as you walk eastward along the row.


4 [SX 58756 69293]

Great Trowlesworthy Tor disappears from view.


5 [SX 58877 69337]

Sharpitor disappears from view.


6 [SX 58892 69343]

At this location Sharpitor is at the limit of visibility and looks like a skyline round cairn.

Leeden Tor is at the limit of visibility and looks like a long cairn.


7 [SX 58901 69345]

Leeden Tor and Cox Tor peeping from behind the nearby rising ground.  As you walk westward along the row the ground swallows up these distinctive landmarks.

Sharpitor from this location looks like a cairn and as you walk westward its is gobbled up by ground.

One can’t help but notice that these tors resemble skyline cairns.


8 [SX 58915 69348]

A number of tors appear on the skyline at the limit of visibility. As you walk westward they disappear one after the other.  Great Mis Tor which disappeared near the eastern end of the row is about to disappear again.

Peek Hill, Leather Tor and Sharpitor appear as separate features from this location.

Leeden Tor, Cox Tor and Great Mis Tor appear to stand alone from this location.


9 [SX 58930 69356]

The Tors emerge from the ground as you head east and of course shrink into the ground as you head west. It is difficult to see this as anything other than deliberate and provides further evidence that the rows were placed to provide specific visual links to places of significance.


10 [SX 58967 69368]

View from the south east (Scale 1m).

Great Mis Tor is again at the limit of visibility.

Down Tor is at the limit of visibility. One step westward and it disappears, whilst one step eastward it grows in size. 

A very restricted sea view.

The sea and Penlee Point promontory. 


11 [SX 58981 69374]

Caradon Hill appears at this location.


12 [SX 58999 69379]

The northern tors and hill are at the most pronounced at this point. In particular, Great Mis Tor is now clearly visible.

Caradon Hill on Bodmin Moor is neatly sandwiched between Down Tor and the lower slopes of Raddick Hill. 

A distant and restricted view of Penlee Point and the sea is visible at this location.


13 [SX 59022 69388]

The western end of the row with the hills and tors to the north in the background. View from south east (Scale 1m).

As well as the tors and hill to the north Bodmin Moor and the area east of Boscastle are visible from the eastern end of the row. As you walk westward along the row this landscape slowly disappears although Great Mis Tor which as at the limit of visibility at this point reappears towards the western end of the row.

Caradon Hill on Bodmin Moor sits neatly between Down Tor and Peek Hill.

The high ground east of Boscastle is visible in the col between Sharpitor and Leeden Tor.

The sea and Penlee Point are visible from this location.

The hills and tors north of the row

The ever changing character of the hills and tors north of the row are best appreciated when you walk westward along the row. The following series of photographs illustrate this phenomena.

View from Point 13 at the eastern end of the row. The distant landscape appears to protrude from the nearby rising ground.

From Point 12 

From Point 10

From Point 9

From Point 8

From Point 7

Walking along the Hingston Hill stone row provides an ever changing view particularly at the limit of visibility.  The sea visible at the eastern end slowly disappears as do the hills and tors to the north. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that these visual links to the landscape were in some way associated with the purpose of the row. Visual links such as these are found at most stone rows and provide powerful albeit circumstantial evidence that the rows were built to allow specific and presumably ritual interaction with the landscape, seascape and possibly skyscape. In essence they provided a focus for their understanding or appreciation of their world.

Access Information

Car parking is available at SX 56873 69307. From here walk along the track towards Middleworth. At SX 57478 69041 head up the hill towards Down Tor.  Before reaching the top turn and walk east to the row. Well worth the effort.


Online Resources 

Megalithic Portal     Modern Antiquarian     PastScape     Historic Environment Record

Prehistoric Monuments of Dartmoor     Prehistoric Dartmoor Walks     Sea Views

Other References

Burl, A., 1993, From Carnac to Callanish – The prehistoric rows and avenues of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press, New York and London, pg. 215.

Butler, J., 1994, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities – Vol. 3 – The South-West, Devon Books Exeter, pgs. 71-72.


Timeline

VISITED:- 16th April 2013 and 13th May 2019

FIRST PUBLISHED:- 24th January 2016

LAST UPDATED:- 21st July 2019

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