Ancient Monuments

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Two circular cairns, an ovoid cairn and a ring cairn lying within an enclosure forming part of a cairnfield on Homerton Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Sourton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6952 / 50°41'42"N

Longitude: -4.0368 / 4°2'12"W

OS Eastings: 256242.952641

OS Northings: 90374.307983

OS Grid: SX562903

Mapcode National: GBR Q1.CDYH

Mapcode Global: FRA 27F7.P4M

Entry Name: Two circular cairns, an ovoid cairn and a ring cairn lying within an enclosure forming part of a cairnfield on Homerton Hill

Scheduled Date: 3 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010774

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24149

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sourton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Okehampton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes two circular cairns, an ovoid cairn and a ring cairn
lying within an enclosure, forming part of a cairnfield situated on a gentle
north west facing slope of Homerton Hill overlooking the valley of the West
Okement River. Other cairns and a length of bank lie in the immediate
vicinity and these are covered by separate schedulings.
The two circular mounds measure 4m and 6.3m in diameter and stand up to 0.4m
and 0.7m high respectively. The larger mound has a hollow in its centre,
suggesting that it has been robbed or partially excavated. The ovoid cairn is
aligned east to west and measures 4.7m long, 2.3m wide and 0.4m high. The ring
cairn has seen considerable damage to its north western side and now survives
as a 2m wide and 0.4m high `C' shaped bank which would have originally
enclosed an area 7m in diameter. A 1m wide and 0.3m high lynchet leads from
the ring cairn to the largest of the circular mounds.
The enclosure surrounding these cairns survives as two separate lengths of
rubble bank. These were probably once connected by further lengths of walling
which now survive as buried features. The interior of the enclosure measures
100m north west to south east by at least 96m south west to north east, and
the surrounding rubble bank is 3m wide and 0.4m high. A small gap in the south
eastern length of the boundary wall may represent an original entrance.

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 round and ovoid cairns this monument contains a ring cairn.
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 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. 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
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
The cairnfield on Homerton 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 agricultural
and funerary activity on the western side of the Moor.

Source: Historic England


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX59SE58, (1982)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,

Source: Historic England

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