Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn and rectangular building earthwork 940m west of Widgery Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Lydford, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6514 / 50°39'5"N

Longitude: -4.0806 / 4°4'50"W

OS Eastings: 253010.429587

OS Northings: 85591.525479

OS Grid: SX530855

Mapcode National: GBR NZ.87PG

Mapcode Global: FRA 27BC.42J

Entry Name: Ring cairn and rectangular building earthwork 940m west of Widgery Cross

Scheduled Date: 1 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010783

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24070

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Lydford

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Lydford St Petroc

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a ring cairn and a small rectangular building earthwork
situated on a gentle east facing slope overlooking the valley of the River
Lyd. The ring cairn earthwork survives as a bank, 3.4m wide and 0.3m high
surrounding a circular internal area measuring 10m in diameter. A mound
measuring 6m in diameter and 0.3m high stands in the centre of the area
enclosed by the bank. The building earthwork is attached to the southern outer
face of the ring cairn and includes a 1.5m wide and 0.2m high bank surrounding
an internal area measuring 7m north to south by 4m east to west. This building
probably represents a medieval or early post medieval shelter.

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.

In addition to the ring cairn, the monument includes a small rectangular
structure which is probably a medieval or early post-medieval shelter. Such
structures provided temporary accommodation for shepherds, peat cutters,
tinners and other workers. The shelter contains information relating to the
seasonal and occasional use of the moor.
The ring cairn and rectangular building 940m west of Widgery Cross survive
comparatively well and contain archaeological and environmental information
relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was erected. The cairn
is one of at least four ring cairns forming part of a dispersed group of
cairns situated on a 2.5km long spur alongside the River Lyd.

Source: Historic England


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX58NW20, (1981)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,

Source: Historic England

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