Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn on Great Nodden summit

A Scheduled Monument in Bridestowe, Devon

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Latitude: 50.668 / 50°40'4"N

Longitude: -4.0691 / 4°4'8"W

OS Eastings: 253873.521085

OS Northings: 87415.986393

OS Grid: SX538874

Mapcode National: GBR NZ.7BN2

Mapcode Global: FRA 27C9.NKF

Entry Name: Ring cairn on Great Nodden summit

Scheduled Date: 18 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007654

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22341

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Bridestowe

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a ring cairn situated on the summit of Great Nodden.
It survives as a circular bank of small stones, 2.3m wide and 0.4m high
surrounding an internal area measuring 8m in diameter. A recent stone cairn
measuring 4m in diameter and 0.9m high stands on the western side of the ring
bank and is included within the scheduling.
A wedge shaped cist, with a semi-circular broad end and elliptical sides
composed of local slate, was present within this cairn during the latter part
of the 19th century. This, however, is no longer visible.

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,
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. A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual
monument comprising a circular bank of stones up to 20m in diameter
surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and
sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid boulders. Ring
cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are mostly discovered
and authenticated by ground level fieldwork and survey, although a few are
large enough to be visible on aerial photographs. They often occur in pairs or
small groups of up to four examples. Occasionally they lie within round barrow
cemeteries. Ring cairns are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and
Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully
understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and
others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities
associated with the burial rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been
surveyed in detail and the number of ring cairns in England is not accurately
known. However, available evidence indicates a population of between 250 and
500 examples. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable
variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant
archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

The ring cairn on Great Nodden summit survives comparatively well and contains
archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the
landscape in which it was erected. This cairn is one of four ring cairns
forming part of a dispersed group of cairns situated on a 2.5km long spur
alongside the River Lyd. This cairn can be seen from many parts of western
Devon and forms a particularly distinctive visual landmark.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 219-220
Brent, F, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Thirteenth Report of the Barrow Committee, , Vol. 23, (1891), 117-118
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,

Source: Historic England

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