Joan Ford’s Newtake

The three standing stones. View from north (Scale 1m).

A probable single stone row measuring 7.27m long, including at least three large-sized upright orthostats and two recumbent slabs situated on a gentle south east facing slope. The stones stand up to between 1.55m and 1.23m high, arranged in height order with the tallest at the east. The row is orientated ENE to NSW and has restricted views of several skyline cairns and surrounding landscape.

Location

England Devon Dartmoor SX 63180 71989 Lat 50.53156373   Long -3.93190732

Map showing the location of Joan Ford’s Newtake stone row.

Plan of the Joan Ford’s Newtake stone row. The standing stones are shown grey and the recumbent ones green. The recumbent stone south of the row may either be natural or possibly displaced from the alignment (Source: 1:100 survey by Sandy Gerrard, Janet Daynes and Chris Jenkins). 

Alternatively the stone row may originally have been much longer. The additional stones to the north east of the standing stones are shown in this plan. Recumbent stones are green and the standing stones are depicted red (Source:- GPS survey by Sandy Gerrard, Janet Daynes and Chris Jenkin).

Characteristics

Type: Single Length: 3.66m or 7.27m or 49.6m
No. of stones: 3 or 5 or 9 Size of stones: Only large
Orientation: 59° Altitude: 330m
Upper end: – Lower end: –
Straight (Yes or No)  : Yes Sea View: No
Context:  Cairns, prehistoric settlement and field system

Notes: The monument includes a minimum of three standing stones, but two other recumbent slabs in the immediate vicinity may represent two further elements of the site.  A further four stones to the north east may form part of the original layout but are currently considered to be less likely candidates. If the shorter explanation is accepted then the row is of Type S2, whilst if the longer interpretation is followed then the row is of Type S8. There are no other known examples of Type S2 rows in the South West of England although there are three S8 type rows.  This might suggest that the row was originally much longer, but field evidence alone suggests that it is more likely to have been of the S2 variety. For the moment this row has been categorised as Type S2 with provisos.

The three standing stones in common with some other rows are arranged in descending height with the tallest on the east and the shortest on the west.  From west to east the stones measure 1.23m, 1.45m and 1.55m high respectively. This provides further strength to the idea that this row is of prehistoric date. 

Other Information

Public Access:  Yes
Land Status: National Park
Scheduled Ancient Monument: No

Identification

Category: Probable. This monument is generally considered by others not to be a row.  It has been suggested that it is the remains of a linhay, tethering posts or part of a wall.  All three explanations are very difficult to justify as the surviving evidence does not support any of them.  The basic problem appears to be that there are no other rows like this on Dartmoor and therefore attempts have been made to find alternative explanations despite the fact that the rows looks like a classic type S2 alignment. These are generally found in Argyll and Isles although nearer to Dartmoor examples are known at Harolds Stones and Saith Maen NW in South Wales. It is therefore conceivable that this is a prehistoric stone row and indeed this explanation best fits the available evidence.  Indeed this row would not be out of place in large swathes of the country and it is only because it is unusual in a Dartmoor context that considerable effort has been spent searching for alternative explanations.  What is less certain is whether the surviving standing stones originally formed part of a longer row.  Two recumbent orthostats next to the outer standing stones stones may be further fallen slabs together with four slabs further to the north east and another to the south. On balance, it seems most likely that the two nearby stones may have formed part of the row whilst those further away are more likely to represent natural clitter. It is therefore most probably that this row originally included five large standing stones.

Typology

This stone row is probably of Type S2. Information on this form of stone row and other rows of this type is available here.

Photographs

The three standing stones. View from south.

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

View from the west.

View from south east (Scale 1m).

View from north west (Scale 1m).

Largely buried recumbent stone immediately west of the standing stones. View from south east (Scale 1m).

Largely buried recumbent stone immediately east of the standing stones. View from south east (Scale 1m).

Landscape Comment

The viewshed from this row is limited in every direction except to the north east where a number of landscape and archaeological features are at the limit of visibility. This characteristic of rows is considered here. Standing at the row, ones eyes are drawn to the narrow window formed by the gap in the nearby hills. Within this window there are a number of features worthy of comment.

Restricted view of the distant landscape (highlighted green).

Looking through the “window”, Hameldown, Chinkwell Tor, Corndon Tor and Rippon Tor appear at the limit of visibility.

Peeking up from behind the distant horizon is Chinkwell Tor.

Whilst on Hameldown a large cairn can be seen at the very limit of visibility.

On the right hand side of the “window”a series of further cairns can be seen at Corndon Tor and Rippon Tor.

Viewed from the stone row the large Corndon ciarn looks as if it is sitting on the near Yar Tor.  An optical illusion that may have appealed to the row builders.

The two large cairns at Rippon Tor are clearly visible from the row.


Access Information

Parking is available SX 65092 72766. From here head across the cattle grid and down the road.  At SX 64744 72838 turn left and follow the track to SX 63288 71902. Follow the footpath into Joan Ford’s Newtake towards the stones.

Online Resources 

Megalithic Portal     PastScape     Historic Environment Record

Prehistoric Monuments of Dartmoor

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


VISITED: 4th September 2019

FIRST PUBLISHED: 27th September 2019

LAST UPDATED: 6th February 2020

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