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Stone alignment and cairn 830m east of Down Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Sheepstor, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5066 / 50°30'23"N

Longitude: -3.992 / 3°59'31"W

OS Eastings: 258843.093455

OS Northings: 69321.54228

OS Grid: SX588693

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.4DDR

Mapcode Global: FRA 27JQ.GLT

Entry Name: Stone alignment and cairn 830m east of Down Tor

Scheduled Date: 30 October 1956

Last Amended: 6 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009090

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24084

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sheepstor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

This monument includes a single stone alignment and a cairn situated on a
saddle between the north west flank of Eylesbarrow and Down Tor. The
alignment is orientated from ENE to WSW, although it does not form a perfectly
straight line, being bowed to the north to a maximum of 2.5m off alignment.
The alignment is 316m long and contains at least 174 stones, with the tallest
being present at either end. The standing stone at the western end of the
alignment measures 2.8m high, whilst that at the eastern end is 1.6m high.
The stones along the central length of the alignment vary in height between 1m
and 0.2m high. The large stone denoting the western end of the alignment and
an unknown number of others were re-erected by Baring-Gould and Burnard in
1890.
The cairn with an encircling kerb, lies 4m west of the western end of the
stone alignment. The mound measures 8m in diameter and 0.7m high and is
surrounded by a kerb which includes 24 orthostats standing between 0.3 and 1m
high, forming a ring with a diameter of 11.5m. A hollow in the centre of the
mound suggests partial early excavation or robbing. Two tin prospecting pits
lie immediately against the western edge of the kerb and form part of a wider
group.
The stone alignment is in direct line with another cairn at SX 59196944 which
is the subject of a separate scheduling (SM 24122).

MAP EXTRACT
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. Stone alignments or stone rows
consist of upright stones set in single file or in avenues of two or more
parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often
physically linked to burial monuments, such as small cairns, cists and
barrows, and are considered to have had an important ceremonial function. The
Dartmoor alignments mostly date from the Late Neolithic period (c.2400-2000
BC). Some eighty examples, most of them on the outer Moor, provide over half
the recorded national population. Due to their comparative rarity and
longevity as a monument type, all surviving examples are considered nationally
important, unless very badly damaged.

In addition to the stone alignment, the monument includes a round cairn, which
is a prehistoric funerary monument dating to the Bronze Age (about 2000-700
BC). These were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, the latter
predominating in areas of upland Britain where 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 provides
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 limited damage as a result of medieval and post-medieval tinworking,
the stone alignment and cairn 830m east of Down Tor survive well within an
area containing a large number of broadly contemporary settlements, and ritual
and funerary monuments.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Breton, H H, Beautiful Dartmoor and its interesting antiquities, (1990), 40-42
Gerrard, G A M, The Archaeology of the Early Cornish Tin Industry, (1986), 254-4
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 212
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 78
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE177, (1985)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE177.1, (1983)
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE29,

Source: Historic England

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