Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield, irregular aggregate field system, a ring cairn and three round cairns 800m and 920m south of Moorgate Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Okehampton Hamlets, Devon

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Latitude: 50.713 / 50°42'46"N

Longitude: -3.9874 / 3°59'14"W

OS Eastings: 259785.387999

OS Northings: 92253.717592

OS Grid: SX597922

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.QFKT

Mapcode Global: FRA 27J6.BD8

Entry Name: Cairnfield, irregular aggregate field system, a ring cairn and three round cairns 800m and 920m south of Moorgate Farm

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016634

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28717

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Okehampton Hamlets

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Okehampton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument, which falls into two areas, is overlooked by Rowtor and includes
at least 29 small mounds forming a cairnfield, an irregular aggregate field
system consisting of at least five fields, a stone hut circle, a cairn
containing a cist, a ring cairn and two further mounds which may contain
burials. Although now lying just outside the Okehampton Range, the area has
been intensively used for military training in the past and scores of pits and
trenches bear testimony to this activity. Most of the cairns forming the
Bronze Age cairnfield lie within the south western field and stand between
0.2m and 0.7m high. Twenty-two of the mounds are circular in shape and measure
between 2.5m and 5.5m in diameter. The remainder are oval and vary in length
between 3m and 4.5m. The field system is defined by a series of sinuous low
rubble banks which together form at least five fields, which have been added
over a period of time. At the northern end of the field system is an oval
structure which may represent a broadly contemporary stone hut circle. Within
the eastern part of the field system is an 8.3m diameter and 0.5m high cairn.
In the centre of this mound is a pit, one side of which is denoted by a large
edge set stone which may represent one edge of a much disturbed cist. In the
southern field is a circular bank measuring up to 3m wide and 0.6m high
surrounding a 17.5m diameter internal area. The ring bank has been cut in four
places by military pits and others in the vicinity further confuse the
situation. Despite this, it is clear that this earthwork represents the site
of a ring cairn. Two mounds lying south west of the field system may represent
funerary cairns. The first one lies at NGR SX 59599214 and survives as a 0.7m
high and 6.1m diameter mound with a small central pit. The second cairns lies
a short distance to the south west at SX 59579212 and measures 5.8m high by
0.6m high.

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,
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. Elaborate complexes of fields and field
boundaries are a major feature of the Dartmoor landscape. Irregular aggregate
field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have been
employed in south-west England from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000
BC-AD 400). They comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking
conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous
outlines and varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or
banks, ditches or fences. They are often located around or near ceremonial and
funerary monuments. They are an important element of the existing landscape
and are representative of farming practice over a long period. A substantial
proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Lying within the irregular aggregate field system south of Moorgate Farm
is a well preserved cairnfield, together with a cairn containing a cist and a
ring cairn. Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity
and usually of Bronze Age date (c.2000-700 BC). The considerable varieties in
the size of cairnfields and their longevity as a monument type provide
important information in the diversity of beliefs and social organisation
amongst early prehistoric communities. Direct associations of the kind in
evidence here are very rare on Dartmoor and this one provides a significant
insight into the character of Bronze Age activity in this area of the moor.

Source: Historic England


MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1998)
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1998)

Source: Historic England

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