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Triple stone alignment and cairn 780m east of Cawsand Beacon

A Scheduled Monument in South Tawton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.708 / 50°42'28"N

Longitude: -3.922 / 3°55'19"W

OS Eastings: 264382.796642

OS Northings: 91581.37856

OS Grid: SX643915

Mapcode National: GBR Q7.9L9Q

Mapcode Global: FRA 27N6.RTF

Entry Name: Triple stone alignment and cairn 780m east of Cawsand Beacon

Scheduled Date: 1 March 1972

Last Amended: 14 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013426

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24143

County: Devon

Civil Parish: South Tawton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: South Tawton St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a triple stone alignment, a cairn and short length of
hollow way situated on a gently sloping natural shelf on the eastern side of
Cawsand Hill (also known as Cosdon Hill) at the head of Cheriton Combe. The
stone alignment, known locally as The Cemetery or The Graveyard, is orientated
from WNW to ESE and includes a 138m long, triple row of at least 118 stones
whose heights gradually increase uphill towards the cairn. The tallest stones
stand up to 1m high, whilst many of those at the eastern end protrude only a
short height above the ground. Many stones at the eastern end probably survive
as buried features, and the eastern terminal point is consequently not visible
at ground level. At the western end of the alignments there are three
blocking stones standing up to 1m high. The distance between the three rows
remains constant at 1.4m, but the distance between the stones along the
alignments decreases eastwards, from 1.6m to 1.3m. There is a marked curve in
the alignments of about 3 degrees to the north from a point 70m from the
western end. In 1896 members of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee re-erected
an unknown number of stones, including at least two of the blocking stones.
The cairn lies 4.5m west of the blocking stones and survives as a circular
mound measuring 7.8m in diameter and standing up to 0.7m high. Seven stones
set on edge around the perimeter of the mound, indicate the presence of a kerb
which survives largely as a buried feature. Two conjoined cists sharing a
common end slab are visible within the mound. The northern cist includes one
end and a side slab defining a rectangular hollow measuring 1.2m long by 0.9m
wide and 0.5m deep. The southern cist includes three upright slabs obscured
in part by a large granite slab which probably represents an original
coverstone. This cist appears to have maximum dimensions of 1.1m long by 1m
wide and 0.4m deep. This cairn was excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration
Committee in 1896, who found that the cists had already been robbed and no
finds were made. The excavators, however, did find an inner kerb of upright
slabs within the mound surrounding the cists, although this feature is no
longer visible.
The stone alignments are cut through by a hollow way which represents part of
a track leading from South Zeal to Hangingstone Hill. This track was probably
originally used to carry peat from the moorland and may date from the medieval
period. Within the monument the trackway survives as two parallel hollow ways.
The western hollow way measures 3m wide and 0.7m deep, whilst the eastern
example is 3m wide and 1m deep.

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. Stone alignments or stone rows
consist of upright stones set in single file or in avenues of two or more
parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often
physically linked to burial monuments, such as small cairns, cists and
barrows, and are considered to have had an important ceremonial function. The
Dartmoor alignments mostly date from the Late Neolithic period (c.2400-2000
BC). Some eighty examples, most of them on the outer Moor, provide over half
the recorded national population. Due to their comparative rarity and
longevity as a monument type, all surviving examples are considered nationally
important, unless very badly damaged.

Despite limited damage as a result of a trackway being cut through part of the
alignments, the triple stone alignment and cairn 780m east of Cawsand Beacon
survive comparatively well, contain archaeological and environmental
information and lie between a number of broadly contemporary funerary
monuments and extensive field systems containing settlements.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 64
Crossing, W, Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor, (1990), 64
Hayward, J, Dartmoor 365, (1991), 31
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 218-219
Baring-Gould, S, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Third Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, , Vol. 28, (1896), 180
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1990), 204-206
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1990), 205
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 74
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX69SW19, (1993)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX69SW19.1, (1993)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,

Source: Historic England

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