Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cairn south-east of Shell Top

A Scheduled Monument in Cornwood, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4567 / 50°27'23"N

Longitude: -3.975 / 3°58'30"W

OS Eastings: 259897.008916

OS Northings: 63732.686124

OS Grid: SX598637

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.7QQG

Mapcode Global: FRA 27KV.97D

Entry Name: Cairn south-east of Shell Top

Scheduled Date: 23 October 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012689

English Heritage Legacy ID: 10747

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Cornwood

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This cairn lies a few metres south-east of Shell Top and consists of a natural
boulder surrounded by granite blocks to form a cairn with a retaining kerb 10m
in diameter. The central block of the cairn rises to 1.1m in height.

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.

This cairn occupies a prominent position on Shell Top. Its relationship to
other cairns and to Shell Top Reave indicates the wealth of evidence relating
to the ritual side of Prehistoric life on this part of the Moor.

Source: Historic England


SX56SE-194, SX56SE-194, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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