Ancient Monuments

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Two ring cairns 330m south east of Coldharbour Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Loddiswell, Devon

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Latitude: 50.3544 / 50°21'15"N

Longitude: -3.809 / 3°48'32"W

OS Eastings: 271403.987116

OS Northings: 52063.82735

OS Grid: SX714520

Mapcode National: GBR QD.T57G

Mapcode Global: FRA 28X3.7XC

Entry Name: Two ring cairns 330m south east of Coldharbour Cross

Scheduled Date: 1 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014244

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24852

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Loddiswell

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Loddiswell St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes two ring cairns and the archaeologically sensitive
area of ground between them situated in the South Hams some 3.5km north of the
village of Loddiswell on a hill to the west of the River Avon. It lies towards
the western end of the hill crest on ground with a slight downwards slope to
the south west. The ring cairns are aligned north west-south east.
The south east ring cairn, with an overall diameter of 24m, is formed by a
low bank 3m in width and c.0.2m in height. The bank is most clearly visible on
the inside. Within the ring and offset to the south of the centre, there is a
low and uneven mound, 6m in diameter and c.0.3m in height, which has a number
of stones protruding through the turf, ranging in size from 20cm to 50cm x
The north west ring cairn, with an overall diameter of 21m, is formed by a
low bank 3m in width and c.0.2m in height. The bank is most clearly visible on
the inside.
The distance between the ring cairns is 12m. The area of ground between them
is archaeologically sensitive in that it will contain burials, evidence of
related activity, and archaeological evidence for the chronological
relationship between the two ring cairns.
The ring cairns appear to have been first identified from RAF vertical
aerial photographs taken in 1946. At that time, and when they were surveyed by
the Ordnance Survey in 1961, they lay within an area of heath and were
partly overgrown with gorse. Clearance of the heath and subsequent ploughing
have made this monument less distinct than when first recorded.

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

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 fieldwork and ground
level 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 two ring cairns remain reasonably well preserved examples of this class
of monument. Although superficially damaged, their banks are largely intact
and the buried features will survive in good condition. They exhibit a number
of the features characteristic of this class of monument including their
topographic location and paired setting. They are an unusual survival in an
area of the county where burial monuments are not common.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grinsell, L V, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in The Barrows of South and East Devon, , Vol. 41, (1983), 5-46

Source: Historic England

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