Ancient Monuments

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Three round cairns 370m ENE of Down Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Sheepstor, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5087 / 50°30'31"N

Longitude: -3.9985 / 3°59'54"W

OS Eastings: 258384.462963

OS Northings: 69563.389628

OS Grid: SX583695

Mapcode National: GBR Q2.YBPW

Mapcode Global: FRA 27JQ.62K

Entry Name: Three round cairns 370m ENE of Down Tor

Scheduled Date: 5 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010782

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24051

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sheepstor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes three small round cairns, each containing a cist
revealed by partial excavation, situated within a north facing valley lying
between Down Tor and Hingston Hill, overlooking the valley of Newleycombe
The eastern cairn survives as a 4.5m diameter mound standing up to 0.8m high.
The edge of the mound is defined by a kerb of large edge set stones. In the
centre of the mound is a large cist which measures 1.19m long by up to 0.71m
wide and 0.94m deep. The cist is orientated from north to south and is
trapezoidal in shape.
The western cairn lies 6.25m from the eastern cairn and survives as a 5m
diameter mound standing up to 0.6m high. Edge set stones forming the south
eastern periphery of this mound indicate the presence of a kerb, which
survives largely as a buried feature. In the centre of the mound is a cist
which is orientated ENE to WSW and measures 1.1m long by 0.7m wide and 0.5m
The third cairn lies immediately to the north and is separated from the
western mound by a leat which measures 0.8m wide and 0.2m deep. The cairn
survives as an oval mound measuring 3.5m long by 2.3m wide, and contains one
of the smallest in situ cists on Dartmoor. The cist measures 0.53m long by
0.3m wide and 0.53m deep, and is orientated south east to north west.
The leat separating the western and northern cairns leads from the Newleycombe
Lake and carried water to openwork tin mines to the west.

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, the three round cairns 370m ENE of Down Tor
survive comparatively well and contain archaeological and environmental
information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was
erected. These cairns lie within an area containing a large number of broadly
contemporary ritual, funerary and settlement sites.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Newman, P, 'Rep. Trans. Devon. As. Advnt. Sci.' in The Moorland Meavy - A Tinners' Landscape, , Vol. 119, (1987), 227
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE174.1, (1984)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE174.2, (1984)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE174.3, (1984)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE127,

Source: Historic England

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