Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield on the western slope of White Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Lydford, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6358 / 50°38'8"N

Longitude: -4.0845 / 4°5'4"W

OS Eastings: 252684.366763

OS Northings: 83864.837472

OS Grid: SX526838

Mapcode National: GBR NZ.96PC

Mapcode Global: FRA 27BD.8JY

Entry Name: Cairnfield on the western slope of White Hill

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1965

Last Amended: 29 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007538

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20342

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Lydford

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a cairnfield situated on a gentle west-facing slope
overlooking Lydford village. The monument includes twenty-one mounds and a
lynchet or cultivation terrace which may be of contemporary date. Twelve of
the mounds are scattered around the edge of a field, which is defined only by
the location of the mounds. The remainder lie in a cluster together with the
lynchet. Fifteen of the mounds are sub-circular in shape and these range in
size from 2m to 7m in diameter and stand between 0.15m and 0.6m high. The
remainder are ovoid in shape, and these range between 3m to 7m long, 1.5m to
4.5m wide and stand between 0.2m and 0.35m high. The average height of all the
mounds is 0.35m. Six cairns have a shallow hollow in the centre of the mound,
suggesting robbing or partial excavation. Some of the larger mounds are
probably burial monuments; the remainder most likely represent stone clearance
connected with cultivation of the area.
These cairns form part of a wider cairnfield, comprising twenty-six mounds and
a lynchet.
The leat channel flowing through the area is excluded from the scheduling, but
the ground beneath the leat bank is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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,
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. Cairnfields are concentrations of three or
more cairns sited within close proximity to one another; they may consist of
burial cairns or cairns built with stone cleared from the land surface
(clearance cairns). Round funerary cairns were constructed during the Bronze
Age (c.2000-700 BC) and consisted of earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes
ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Often occupying prominent
locations, they are a major visual element in the modern landscape. The
considerable variation in the size of cairnfields and their longevity as a
monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and
social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are
particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of
surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite evidence for partial excavation of some of the cairns, the cairnfield
on the western slope of White Hill survives well and contains archaeological
and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which
it was constructed. It provides a valuable insight into Bronze Age
agricultural activity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fowler, P J, The Farming of Prehistoric Britain, (1983), 129
Fleming, A, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in The Cairnfields of North-West Dartmoor, , Vol. 38, (1980), 9 - 12
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX58SW-053, (1985)
Raymond, F, Single Monument Class Description - Cairnfields, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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