Piles Hill

This alignment is composed entirely of fallen stones (Scale 1m).

A double stone row (or avenue) measuring 865m long, including at least 120 mainly recumbent large-sized orthostats leading across a wide ridge. The row is orientated east to west and curves northward at either end. When standing this was probably the most impressive row on Dartmoor and is the only example of an avenue in the region. The fact that nearly all the stones are recumbent could suggest that they were deliberately felled or more probably that they were inadequately set in the first place. There are four other stone rows in the vicinity together with several cairns and prehistoric settlements.

Location

England     Devon     Dartmoor     SX 65016 61113     Lat 50.434309   Long -3.9020334

Map showing the location of Piles Hill stone row.

Simplified plan of Piles Hill stone alignment (Source: Butler, J., 1993, 63).

Characteristics

Type: Double Length: 865m
No. of stones: 120 Size of stones: Large only
Orientation: 89° Altitude: 386m
Upper end: Pillar Lower end: Pillar
Straight (Yes or No)  : No Sea View: Yes
Context:  Cairns
Notes:

Other Information

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

Identification

Category: Plausible. Despite the fact that all the stones are recumbent no doubts have been expressed regarding the prehistoric interpretation of this row.


Typology

This stone row is of Type D11. Information on this form of stone row and other rows of this type is available here.


Photographs

9th March 2013

Large recumbent slabs forming part of the southern row. Every single stone is now recumbent which suggests that they have been deliberately pushed over. If natural agencies had been responsible there is a good chance that at least some would remain upright. View from east (Scale 1m).

When complete this row was probably the most impressive of all the Dartmoor rows and one of the most spectacular in the whole of Great Britain.  View from west (Scale 1m).

The row crosses a watershed. From the eastern length the chambered cairn at Corringdon Ball is clearly visible. View from west (Scale 1m).

This slab forming part of the row has been split by the wedge and groove method.  This indicates that this probably happened sometime before 1800 (Scale 1m).  

10th September 2019

The eastern end of the row. View from the south (Scale 1m).

Split stones at SX 65784 61063 forming part of the stone row.

The stone on the left forms part of the northern row and the stones on the right part of the southern row. View from west at SX 65738 61057.

A line of stones forming part of the southern row at SX 65696 61054. View from west (Scale).

Large recumbent slab forming part of the southern row at SX 65642 61049. View from west (Scale 1m).

Stones forming part of the southern row at SX 65575 61048. View from east (Scale 1m).

Stones forming part of the southern row at SX 65575 61048. View from west (Scale 1m).

Pair of stones at the possible eastern end of the row.  The stone on the right has been recently re-erected and probably stood in the northern row whilst the one on the left may be a blocking stone.  View from south.

Pair of stones at SX 65048 61119 may denote the eastern end of the avenue. View from west (Scale 1m).

Stones at SX 65048 61119. View from south (Scale 1m).

A couple of stones at SX 65026 61128 are likely to be natural, although the possibility that they formed part of the row cannot be entirely discounted. View from west.

Landscape Comment

The Piles Hill stone row as well as being the only avenue on Dartmoor is unusual in that was built over the top of a hill.  Other examples are known such as Stalldown and Sharpitor, NW1 and in common with those rows the view from either end of the row is radically different.  At the eastern end of the row there are restricted views to the east including glimpses of the sea on the far horizon. From the western end there are restricted views towards the south west including Plymouth Sound and the south Cornish coast. Towards the middle of the row around SX 65575 61048 Bigbury Bay suddenly appears from behind Butterdon Hill.

Restricted views to the east from the eastern end of the stone row. Although not visible in this panorama slivers of sea top the distant land in places.

View from SX 65575 61048 which is 330m west of the eastern terminal. As you walk westward along the row Bigbury Bay appears to the right of Butterdon Hill.

The sea to the left of Butterdon Hill from SX 65575 61048.

Bigbury Bay and a promontory from SX 65575 61048.

Looking south west from SX 65345 61076. As you walk west up the hill the sea to the south west together with Plymouth Sound and several promontories including Lizard Point suddenly appear.

Access Information

Car parking location is available at SX 64342 59548. From here head east to the Two Moors Way at SX 65765 59965. Then follow the track north to SX 65388 61077 where it crosses the row.


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., 1993, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities – Vol. 4 – The South-East, Devon Books Exeter, pgs. 63-64.


Timeline

VISITED:- 9th March 2013 and 10th September 2019

FIRST PUBLISHED:- 24th January 2016

LAST UPDATED:- 8th October 2019

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