Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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A stone circle, standing stone, cairn, recumbent stone and stone alignment on Longash Common

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5533 / 50°33'11"N

Longitude: -4.0431 / 4°2'35"W

OS Eastings: 255359.040052

OS Northings: 74606.15303

OS Grid: SX553746

Mapcode National: GBR Q0.GK9Q

Mapcode Global: FRA 27FL.LPT

Entry Name: A stone circle, standing stone, cairn, recumbent stone and stone alignment on Longash Common

Scheduled Date: 20 November 1954

Last Amended: 12 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013430

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24194

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a stone circle, standing stone, cairn, recumbent stone,
stone alignment and several small earthfast upright granite slabs situated on
a gentle south facing slope on Longash Common overlooking the valley of an
unnamed tributary of the River Walkham. The stone circle, which lies in the
northern part of the monument, includes an 18.5m diameter ring of 11 stones
standing between 0.45m and 0.6m high. A shallow linear hollow aligned
approximately north to south, measuring 1m long by 1m wide and 0.1m deep,
probably represents the site of a part excavation carried out in 1871 by
Spencer Bate. This work revealed no evidence of previous use. In 1895 some
depressions near to the stone circle were excavated by the Dartmoor
Exploration Committee who interpreted them as sockets from which standing
stones had been removed. There is now no trace of these features.
The standing stone lies 33m to the south of the stone circle and survives
as a 3.2m high granite slab which tapers from the base which measures 0.7m
wide by 0.5 thick. This stone may have acted as a focus for the other
surviving features within the vicinity, but because of the proximity of a
newtake wall, it seems probable that limited damage to archaeological features
and structures has occurred, making detailed interpretation more difficult
than would have otherwise been the case. A small cairn lies 5.5m to the east
of the standing stone, and survives as a 3.2m diameter mound standing up to
0.2m high. A hollow in the centre of the mound, measuring 1m long by 0.8m
wide and 0.2m deep, may represent the site of a part early excavation or
robbing. Two edge set stones protruding through the turf to the north and
south of the cairn may be the remains of a circle described by Rowe. When
complete this encircling kerb would have had a diameter of approximately 6m. A
recumbent granite slab lying 2m to the east of the cairn measures 2m long,
0.3m wide and 0.25m thick. This stone was re-erected by the Dartmoor
Exploration Committee in 1895 but fell to the ground during the early part of
the 20th century. A line of four stones leading south for 6.5m from a point
between the standing stone and cairn may be the remains of a stone alignment.
This may be the same alignment described by Rowe as including five stones.
Within 9m to the west of the standing stone are a number of stones protruding
through the turf, the largest of which stands up to 0.35m high. The precise
nature of the feature associated with these stones is uncertain because little
is now visible, but they may represent the site of a second cairn identified
in this area by Rowe.
This monument forms part of a wider cluster of nationally important
monuments which are the subject of separate schedulings.
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. Stone circles, or circular
arrangements of upright stones, were set into the ground and acted as
ceremonial and funerary monuments during the later Neolithic and Bronze Age
periods (c.2400-700 BC). On Dartmoor they are often found in association with
stone alignments and burial monuments such as cairns and cists. The circles
may be single or enclose further circles; they may occur as isolated examples
or in groups. The 26 examples on Dartmoor form one of the most dense
concentrations of monuments of this type in the country. Due to their relative
rarity (with a national population of only some 200 examples) and longevity as
a monument type, all stone circles are considered to be nationally important.

In addition to the well preserved stone circle, the monument includes at least
one round cairn. 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 dominating 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
The monument also includes a stone alignment or stone row. These 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 80 examples,
most of them on the outer Moor, provide over half the recorded national
The final recognisable component of the monument is a pair of standing
stones, one of which is now recumbent.
Standing stones are ceremonial monuments dating from the Late Neolithic and
Bronze Age (c.2400-700 BC). They comprise single or paired upright slabs,
ranging in height from under 1m to over 3m, where still erect. Standing stones
are often conspicuously sited and are often located within the immediate
vicinity of round barrows or cairns and stone alignments. Excavations have
demonstrated sub-surface features adjacent to standing stones, including stone
funerary cists, spreads of small pebbles and various pits and hollows filled
in some cases with human bone, cremations, charcoal and domestic artefacts.
Similar deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones,
which vary considerably in depth. Some standing stones may have functioned as
markers for routeways, territorial boundaries, graves and meeting points, but
their adjacent features show that they also sometimes bore a ritual function,
forming one of several known ritual monument classes of their period.
Estimates suggest that about 250 standing stones are known nationally, of
which the 20 examples surviving on Dartmoor form an important sub-group. They
are a long-lived class of monument, highly representative of their period and
all examples except those which are extensively damaged are considered to be
of national importance.
Despite part excavation and robbing to build a nearby wall, the stone
circle, cairn, recumbent stone and alignment survive comparatively well and
form part of a nationally important cluster of ceremonial and ritual monuments
which attract a large number of visitors each year. Important archaeological
and environmental data may survive within the peat deposits covering this

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Rowe, S, A Perambulation of the Ancient and Royal Forest of Dartmoor208
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 269
Baring Gould, S, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Second Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, , Vol. 27, (1895), 86
Bate, C S, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in On The Prehistoric Antiquities Of Dartmoor, , Vol. 4, (1871), 513-4
Bowman, A, Single Monument Class Description - Small Stone Circles, (1990)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE107, (1983)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE24, (1986)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE8,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE9,

Source: Historic England

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