Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield and associated earthworks on the north eastern slope of White Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Lydford, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6377 / 50°38'15"N

Longitude: -4.0737 / 4°4'25"W

OS Eastings: 253457.720153

OS Northings: 84048.790902

OS Grid: SX534840

Mapcode National: GBR NZ.93H6

Mapcode Global: FRA 27CD.0SX

Entry Name: Cairnfield and associated earthworks on the north eastern slope of White Hill

Scheduled Date: 24 June 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007659

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22347

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Lydford

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes 13 cairns, a length of boundary bank and a lynchet
situated on a south facing slope overlooking the valley of the Walla Brook. Of
the cairns, eight have mounds that are sub-circular in shape and these range
in size from 3m to 6m in diameter and stand between 0.4m and 0.8m high. The
remainder are ovoid in shape, and these range between 5m to 9m long, 3m to 5m
wide and stand between 0.5m and 0.8m high. The average height of all the
mounds is 0.66m. One cairn has a shallow hollow in the centre of the mound,
suggesting robbing or partial excavation. Some of the cairns may contain
burials, but the group most likely represents stone clearance connected with
cultivation of the area. Remnants of an associated field system survive as an
80m long, 1.6m wide and 0.4m high lynchet following the contour, and a 64m
long, 2m wide and 0.3m high boundary bank leading downslope from the lynchet.
This field system was probably originally more extensive and now survives
largely in the form of buried remains, the full extent of which are not
known. Further cairns lying to the east and west of this monument are the
subject of separate schedulings.
Due to factors of scale in mapping the map extract may seem to imply that
sites SM22347 and SM22345 adjoin, but they are in fact separate on the ground.

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.

The cairnfield on the north eastern 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 on the western side of the Moor.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 107
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX58SW91,
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
Raymond, F, Single Monument Class Description - Cairnfields, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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