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Eighteen cairns, a length of bank and a recumbent stone forming part of a cairnfield on Longstone Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Okehampton Hamlets, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6991 / 50°41'56"N

Longitude: -4.0293 / 4°1'45"W

OS Eastings: 256784.915891

OS Northings: 90795.507351

OS Grid: SX567907

Mapcode National: GBR Q1.C8TX

Mapcode Global: FRA 27G7.62W

Entry Name: Eighteen cairns, a length of bank and a recumbent stone forming part of a cairnfield on Longstone Hill

Scheduled Date: 11 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010597

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24163

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Okehampton Hamlets

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Okehampton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Details

This monument includes 18 cairns, a length of bank and a recumbent stone
situated on the ridge south of Longstone Hill forming part of a cairnfield,
including at least 64 mounds, overlooking the valleys of the Redaven Brook and
West Okement River. Other cairns lie in the immediate vicinity and these are
covered by separate schedulings. Of the mounds, 15 are sub-circular in shape
and range in size from 2m to 7m in diameter and stand between 0.2m and 1m
high. The remainder are ovoid in shape, and these range between 4.5m to 11m
long, 3m to 5m wide and stand between 0.6m and 0.8m high. The average height
of all the mounds is 0.52m. Four cairns have a shallow hollow in the mound,
suggesting robbing or partial early excavation. Many of the cairns are crest
sited and are therefore clearly visible from long distances to the east and
west. This situation strongly suggests that many of these cairns probably
contain burials, although the size and shape of some mounds suggests that some
may also be associated with stone clearance connected with cultivation of the
area. A sinuous 50m long, 2m wide and 0.25m high bank lying within the
monument leads towards a large recumbent stone. This stone measures 1.75m
long, 0.8m wide and 0.45m thick and is the only large stone visible on
Longstone Hill. It has been suggested that this may be the longstone which
once stood upright to give the hill its name. The presence of this stone,
which would have been broadly contemporary with the cairns, provides
additional support for the ritual and funerary character ascribed to many
cairns within the group.
A small number of V-shaped trenches and shallow circular hollows survive
within the monument and are the result of military training carried out within
this area during the Second World War. The trenches represent small temporary
defensive positions and the hollows are probably shell holes.

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,
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.

In addition to the cairns the monument contains a large stone which would have
originally stood upright during the Bronze Age. Standing stones are single,
sometimes large, upright stones which often occur in isolation from other
monuments. Their date and significance are uncertain, but their distribution
in western and northern Britain has been linked to the principal routes from
the lowlands to the uplands and they have been interpreted as markers for a
system of farming involving the movement of animals from lowland to upland
pastures at certain seasons of the year. As such they provide an important
insight into farming practices on the moor in the past. The exact number
extant in England is not known but is probably less than 250. The recorded
examples on Dartmoor form an important subgroup of the total population, and
in consequence most are considered to be of national importance.
The cairnfield on Longstone 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 funerary,
ritual and agricultural activity on the western side of the moor. This
cairnfield is more extensive and contains more cairns than any other similar
site known on the Moor. Its association with a standing stone and single
stone hut circle is rare.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 215
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX59SE-039, (1982)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX59SE33, (1983)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,

Source: Historic England

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