Ancient Monuments

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Round cairn and later tin prospecting pits 615m ESE of Down Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Sheepstor, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5064 / 50°30'23"N

Longitude: -3.9948 / 3°59'41"W

OS Eastings: 258640.042

OS Northings: 69304.162

OS Grid: SX586693

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.YKNH

Mapcode Global: FRA 27JQ.FHM

Entry Name: Round cairn and later tin prospecting pits 615m ESE of Down Tor

Scheduled Date: 30 October 1956

Last Amended: 6 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009089

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24083

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sheepstor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a round cairn and tin prospecting pits situated on a
saddle between the north west flank of Eylesbarrow and Down Tor. The cairn
mound measures 15.5m in diameter and stands up to 1.5m high. A `T'-shaped
trench cutting into the centre of the mound suggests partial early excavation,
although the results of the investigation are not known.
Three prospecting pits lie immediately against the circumference of the mound
and these each consist of a sub-rectangular pit measuring 2.8m long, 1.4m wide
and 0.6m deep with an associated crescent shaped bank standing up to 0.5m
high. These pits were probably excavated by tinners searching for ore, and a
large number of similar pits survive within the neighbourhood.

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. Round cairns are prehistoric funerary
monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, the latter predominating in areas of upland Britain
where such raw materials were locally available in abundance. Round cairns may
cover single or multiple burials and are sometimes surrounded by an outer
ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major visual element in
the modern landscape. Their considerable variation in form and 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. Dartmoor provides one
of the best preserved and most dense concentrations of round cairns in south-
western Britain.

Despite partial early excavation and the later excavation for tin prospecting
around the periphery, the round cairn 615m ESE of Down Tor survives
comparatively well and contains important archaeological and environmental
information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was
erected. The cairn lies in close proximity to a stone alignment, two other
cairns, an enclosure and reave which are the subject of separate schedulings.
The later tin prospecting pits provide evidence for the exploitation of the
Moor's natural resources.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Gerrard, G A M, The Archaeology of the Early Cornish Tin Industry, (1986), 254-5
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE134, (1985)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE28,

Source: Historic England

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