Ancient Monuments

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Southern White Hill cairnfield

A Scheduled Monument in Lydford, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6353 / 50°38'7"N

Longitude: -4.0733 / 4°4'23"W

OS Eastings: 253477.495585

OS Northings: 83788.911958

OS Grid: SX534837

Mapcode National: GBR NZ.99L7

Mapcode Global: FRA 27CD.6Y7

Entry Name: Southern White Hill cairnfield

Scheduled Date: 25 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008756

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20351

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Lydford

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a cairnfield situated on a gentle south-facing slope
overlooking Willsworthy Brook. The cairnfield includes ten mounds scattered
around the edge of a field, which is defined only by the location of the
mounds. The majority of the cairns are believed to represent stone-clearance
relating to cultivation of the area during the Bronze Age period. Six
of the mounds are sub-circular in shape and these range in size from 3.5m to
6.5m in diameter and stand between 0.3m and 0.4m high. The remainder are
ovoid in shape and these range between 4m to 7.5m long, 2.2m to 5m wide and
stand between 0.3m and 0.6m high. The average height of all the mounds is
0.37m. One cairn has a shallow hollow in the centre of the mound, suggesting
robbing or partial excavation. Another cairn mound measuring 6.5m in diameter
is probably a burial monument.

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 partial excavation of one of the mounds, the Southern White Hill
cairnfield survives well as an example of a Bronze Age field defined by the
cairns which resulted from its clearance. Such examples are generally of an
early date and provide a valuable insight into Bronze Age agricultural

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fowler, P J, The Farming of Prehistoric Britain, (1983)
Fleming, A, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in The Cairnfields of North-West Dartmoor, , Vol. 38, (1980)
Raymond,F., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Cairnfields, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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