Hurston Ridge

Southern length of the alignment. View from north.

Southern length of the alignment. View from north.

 Location

England     Devon     Dartmoor     SX 67260 82437     Lat 50.626488   Long -3.8779693

 

Hurston Ridge plan

Simplified plan of the Hurston Ridge stone alignment. (Source: Butler, 1991).

Characteristics

Type: Double Length: 143.3m
No. of stones: 99 Size of stones: Small, medium and large
Orientation: 25° Altitude: 436m
Upper end: Cairn Lower end: Blocking stone
Straight (Yes or No)  : No Sea View: No
Context:  Prehistoric settlement
Notes: Later prehistoric enclosure wall built across the alignment indicates that the row is earlier than the Middle Bronze Age.

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.


Photographs

Hurston WPP1020059

Looking northward along the row (Scale 1m).

Hurston WPP1020065

View from the south west. The Hurston Ridge row has extensive views towards the north (Scale 1m).

Hurston WPP1020070

Looking north along the row. The rows are not parallel and the distance between them varies along their length. The row is clearly not aligned on any particular feature.

Hurston WPP1020073

The southern end of the row. View from the north (Scale 1m).

Hurston WPP1020083

This row is among the visually attractive of the Dartmoor rows. Similarities with the double rows at Merrivale are obvious. View from the south west.

Hurston WPP1020085

View from the south west. The size of the stones in common with many rows vary considerably.

Hurston WPP1020132

The double row leading up the hill. The tallest stone is visible on the skyline. View from north east.

Hurston WPP1020137

Blocking stone at the lower end of the row. The row deviates sharply at this point. View from north.

Hurston WPP1020141

Blocking stone and row beyond. The row splays considerably in the approach to the blocking stone. The tall stone at the southern end of the row appears on the skyline when viewed from the bottom. Even within individual rows limit of visibility considerations may have been important and further emphasise the crucial role this may have played. View from north.

Hurston WPP1020142

The row is far from straight. Its sinuous form is reminiscent of the character of a footpath. This suggests that the row at Hurston Ridge may have been built to incorporate an existing sacred or “special” way. View from north.

Hurston WPP1020153

The splay in the row is obvious and certainly indicates that the row builders were not interested in precision. The width of the space between the stones was clearly flexible. View from the north.

Hurston WPP1090296

Views to the north from the row are far reaching, whilst those to the south are none existent.

Hurston WPP1090318

View from the south west with North Devon beyond.

Hurston WPP1090327

A prehistoric (probably Middle Bronze Age) wall indicated by the large granite slabs was built across the row. The stones forming the row were not utilised by the wall builders, indicating a level of respect or perhaps superstition for the earlier monument. This is a very human response. The presence of the row was not enough to stop them carrying out their plans, but they ensured that damage to the stone row was kept to a minimum. Rather like the modern approach to heritage and development.   

Hurston WPP1090332

The row and boundary wall. View from above and north (Scale 1m).

Hurston WPP1090338

The building of the wall indicates that the row was no longer needed by the people who lived on this part of Dartmoor. It is evidence like this that provides the strongest evidence that the use of stone rows on Dartmoor at least had ceased by the Middle Bronze Age.

Hurston WPP1090340

Blocking stone at the northern end of the row. View from the south.

Hurston WPP1090348

Blocking stone and the row beyond. The splay is clearly visible. View from above and north (Scale 1m).

Hurston WPP1090353

The northern end of the row.

 Landmark Reveals

Hurston 2016-07-24 bottom (2)

Viewshed (red) from the bottom of the Hurston Ridge stone alignment. There are extensive views towards the north but none towards the south. The viewshed from the top of the row is unsurprisingly very similar and is not repeated here at this scale. However, at the local level there are some notable differences which are worth remarking upon (Source: Heywhatsthat.com).

Hurston Blue and red

Simplified map highlighting those areas (red) which are visible from the upper end of the row, but are not visible from the bottom (blue). Source: Heywhatsthat.com

Compared with many rows the differences between the viewsheds is limited. However it is worth pointing out that the Challacombe Down triple stone row and Broad Barrow are visible only from the top of the row and therefore appear as one walks uphill along the row. These reveals may have been important to the row builders and enhanced the significance of a place that also provided a large number of limit of visibility views to a number of cairns including Quintin’s Man, Thirlstone, Hangingstone Hill, Single Barrow, Two Barrows, Mardon Down and Cosdon Beacon. The major ceremonial complexes at Fernworthy and Shoveldown would have also been in sight. The position of the Hurston Ridge stone alignment therefore provides a large number of significant visual links to other important ceremonial places in the landscape as well as permitting specific reveals to the Challacombe Down stone alignment and Broad Barrow on Hamel Down. The visual inter-relationships being exposed by this work points to a society very interested in the links between places and in turn implies that this was important to them.

Access Information

Car parking is available at SX 67576 81091. From here carefully cross the road and head north across open moorland. The row is about 1,300m from the car park. A map or reliable GPS device is highly recomended. Well worth the walk.


Online Resources 

Megalithic Portal     Modern Antiquarian     PastScape     Historic Environment Record

Prehistoric Monuments of Dartmoor     Prehistoric Dartmoor Walks

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., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities – Vol. 2 – The North, Devon Books Exeter, pgs.30-31.

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