Ancient Monuments

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Round cairn on the summit of Great Gnat's Head

A Scheduled Monument in Sheepstor, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4946 / 50°29'40"N

Longitude: -3.9519 / 3°57'6"W

OS Eastings: 261652.526242

OS Northings: 67903.478104

OS Grid: SX616679

Mapcode National: GBR Q5.CBN6

Mapcode Global: FRA 27MR.68N

Entry Name: Round cairn on the summit of Great Gnat's Head

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015740

English Heritage Legacy ID: 10751

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sheepstor

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


This monument includes a round cairn situated on the summit of Great Gnat's
Head overlooking the valley of the River Plym. The cairn forms part of a
dispersed group of funerary monuments. The cairn mound measures 12m in
diameter, stands up to 0.6m high and its edge is denoted in places by edge set
stones indicating the presence of a kerb.
A modern stone pile sitting on the centre of the cairn is excluded from
the monument.
The area surrounding the monument may contain further archaeological
features and deposits, but these are not included because they are not visible
and cannot therefore be accurately mapped or assessed.

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 limited recent visitor damage the round cairn on the summit of Great
Gnat's Head survives comparatively well, forms part of a discrete group of
cairns and contains archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the
monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. This monument
forms part of a well preserved, extensive and complex archaeological

Source: Historic England


Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

Source: Historic England

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