Ancient Monuments

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Western White Barrow

A Scheduled Monument in West Buckfastleigh, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4736 / 50°28'25"N

Longitude: -3.8988 / 3°53'55"W

OS Eastings: 265354.328954

OS Northings: 65479.664615

OS Grid: SX653654

Mapcode National: GBR Q8.ZL7S

Mapcode Global: FRA 27QT.2WG

Entry Name: Western White Barrow

Scheduled Date: 31 January 1980

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1002661

English Heritage Legacy ID: DV 1010

County: Devon

Civil Parish: West Buckfastleigh

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Holne St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


Round cairn, wayside cross and shelter known collectively as Western White Barrow and Petre’s Cross.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 November 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument includes a round cairn, wayside cross and shelter situated on the summit of a ridge known as Quickbeam Hill. The round cairn survives as a circular stony mound measuring up to 21m in diameter and 1.7m high. The wayside cross is positioned on the cairn, but is inverted. It measures 1.3m high and is of rectangular section with both arms broken off. It was one of four set up by Sir William Petre, who had purchased Brent Manor after the Dissolution of the Monasteries from Buckfast Abbey in 1557 and was used to mark the bounds of the Forest of Dartmoor in 1557 and 1786. The round cairn has been disturbed by the construction of a two roomed shelter within the structure of the cairn itself measuring 11.5m long by 4.7m wide and having a fireplace and chimney. This was constructed in about 1847 by workers at the Red Lake peat ties, in connection with the Naptha Works at Shipley, who re-used the cross as a chimney lintel at the same time. Following the partial destruction of the building the cross was re-erected.

There appears to have been some encroachment onto Duchy Land by Sir Petre with boundary maps deviating between boundary marks on this cairn and its neighbour Eastern White Barrow through time.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Dartmoor is the largest expanse of open moorland in southern Britain and, because of exceptional conditions of preservation, it is also one of the most complete examples of an upland relict landscape in the whole country. The great wealth and diversity of archaeological remains provide direct evidence for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards. The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites, major land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains, gives significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time. Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, may cover single or multiple burials and are sometimes surrounded by an outer ditch. They are particularly representative of their period. Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. In addition to serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult and otherwise unmarked terrain. Shelters are small rectangular or oval buildings which provided temporary accommodation for a variety of moorland workers. Some were occupied seasonally and formed habitation for months at a time, whilst others were only used during work hours as shelters from inclement weather. Some probably had more than a single function, with parts of the structure being utilised for storage. The shelters vary considerably in size, most shelters have a visible doorway, whilst some have fireplaces, cupboards and benches. A single building tradition appears to have been used by the different groups of workers who constructed shelters. The considerable changes of use for this dramatically positioned round cairn, wayside cross and shelter known collectively as Western White Barrow and Petre’s Cross are the main reasons for its importance, how one monument can so dramatically indicate the changing aspects of land-use on Dartmoor, social disputes, religious upheavals and industrial changes is difficult to match. In one place it is possible to observe a palimpsest of change and altering values and social conditions.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, Volume Four – The South-East , (1993), 159
PastScape Monument No:- 441456 and 441459

Source: Historic England

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