Ancient Monuments

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Four round cairns 1060m south east of Great Trowlesworthy Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Shaugh Prior, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4544 / 50°27'15"N

Longitude: -3.9922 / 3°59'31"W

OS Eastings: 258670.776139

OS Northings: 63513.936573

OS Grid: SX586635

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.7SCV

Mapcode Global: FRA 27JV.GJ2

Entry Name: Four round cairns 1060m south east of Great Trowlesworthy Tor

Scheduled Date: 1 December 1965

Last Amended: 9 April 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013423

English Heritage Legacy ID: 10800

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Shaugh Prior

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes four round cairns situated on a gentle SSW facing slope
overlooking the Whitehill Yeo and Cholwichtown china clay pits. The largest
cairn survives as a 26m long by 24m wide and 1.2m high, stony mound with
several hollows dug into its surface. This cairn was investigated by Worth in
the latter part of the 19th century and this work revealed a small number of
stone lined chambers, which were identified as huts. In more recent years
this mound has been seen as a possible chambered cairn, although it is more
likely that it represents a large round cairn into which later shelters have
been inserted. A band of rushes around the northern and eastern edge of the
cairn may represent the site of a buried ditch from which material was
quarried during the construction of the mound. Lying immediately next to the
north western edge of the mound are two small satellite cairns. Both mounds
measure 2.5m in diameter and stand up to 0.15m high. The fourth cairn lies
16.9m north of the largest mound and survives as a 6m diameter mound standing
up to 0.7m high. A number of edge set stones denote the circumference of the
cairn and represent a kerb which survives partly as a buried feature. A
hollow in the centre of the mound, measuring 1.7m long, 1.3m wide and 0.5m
deep, indicates that the cairn has been robbed or partially excavated.
This monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.

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 evidence of partial excavation or robbing, the four round cairns 1060m
south east of Great Trowlesworthy Tor survive well and contain archaeological
and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which
it was constructed. The cairns form a constituent part of a diverse group of
broadly contemporary monuments including settlements, field systems and other
funerary sites. This group of cairns lies between two settlements in an area
which has been partly cleared of stone and therefore they may also have acted
as territorial markers.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Worth, R N, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in A Hut Cluster On Dartmoor, , Vol. 22, (1890), 237
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56SE11, (1989)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56SE256, (1986)
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1993)
Robinson, R., English Heritage Office SAM Report form for DV 581, (1984)
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

Source: Historic England

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