Ancient Monuments

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A ring cairn on Longash Common lying 400m south east of Merrivale Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5554 / 50°33'19"N

Longitude: -4.0437 / 4°2'37"W

OS Eastings: 255326.17651

OS Northings: 74840.878526

OS Grid: SX553748

Mapcode National: GBR Q0.GK4L

Mapcode Global: FRA 27FL.LGB

Entry Name: A ring cairn on Longash Common lying 400m south east of Merrivale Bridge

Scheduled Date: 4 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013431

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24195

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a ring cairn situated on a gentle north west facing
slope on Longash Common overlooking the valley of the River Walkham. The
cairn lies within the vicinity of a large number of broadly contemporary
ritual monuments, forming one of the densest concentrations of such sites on
the Moor. The earthwork survives as a bank measuring 1.3m wide and 0.3m high,
surrounding a 6.4m diameter circular, internal area. This structure was
originally identified by Worth as a stone hut circle, but in recent years
archaeological opinion considers it much more likely to be a ring cairn.
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. 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.

The cairn on Longash Common lying 400m south east of Merrivale Bridge
survives comparatively well and forms 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 monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 217
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 70
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE22, (1984)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE6,

Source: Historic England

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