Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn 140m north east of Cawsand Beacon forming part of a cairn cemetery on the summit of Cawsand Hill

A Scheduled Monument in South Tawton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.708 / 50°42'28"N

Longitude: -3.9316 / 3°55'53"W

OS Eastings: 263708.970643

OS Northings: 91596.57712

OS Grid: SX637915

Mapcode National: GBR Q6.3PV5

Mapcode Global: FRA 27N6.N4L

Entry Name: Ring cairn 140m north east of Cawsand Beacon forming part of a cairn cemetery on the summit of Cawsand Hill

Scheduled Date: 1 March 1972

Last Amended: 6 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010770

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24145

County: Devon

Civil Parish: South Tawton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: South Tawton St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a ring cairn and cist situated on the summit ridge of
Cawsand or Cosdon Hill. The cairn forms part of a cemetery including at least
two round cairns, two ring cairns and one platform cairn. The earthwork
survives as a 2m wide and 0.4m high rubble bank, faced with close set stones
around its outer edge, surrounding a circular internal area measuring 18m east
to west by 17m north to south. A mound measuring 6m in diameter and 0.2m high
stands in the centre of the area enclosed by the circular bank and contains a
stone cist with two slabs surviving. This cist was visited and described by
Rowe in the first half of the 19th century and at this time it included an
eight feet square structure apparently exhibiting traces of an inner coffin. A
further ring cairn, two round cairns and a platform cairn also lie on the
summit ridge of Cawsand Hill.

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. A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual
monument comprising a circular bank of stones up to 20m in diameter
surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and
sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid boulders. Ring
cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are mostly discovered
and authenticated by ground level fieldwork and survey, although a few are
large enough to be visible on aerial photographs. They often occur in pairs or
small groups of up to four examples. Occasionally they lie within round barrow
cemeteries. Ring cairns are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and
Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully
understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and
others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities
associated with the burial rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been
surveyed in detail and the number of ring cairns in England is not accurately
known. However, available evidence indicates a population of between 250 and
500 examples. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable
variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant
archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

The ring cairn 140m north east of Cawsand Beacon survives well and contains
archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the
landscape in which it was erected. This cairn forms part of the Cawsand Hill
cairn cemetery, which includes at least two round cairns, two ring cairns and
a platform cairn.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Rowe, S, A Perambulation of the Ancient and Royal Forest of Dartmoor86
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, , Vol. 2, (1990), 206
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 71
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX69SW24, (1993)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,

Source: Historic England

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