Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn and bowl barrow 540m south west of Higher Welsford

A Scheduled Monument in Hartland, Devon

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Latitude: 50.961 / 50°57'39"N

Longitude: -4.4574 / 4°27'26"W

OS Eastings: 227522.756531

OS Northings: 120830.556742

OS Grid: SS275208

Mapcode National: GBR K6.MLNQ

Mapcode Global: FRA 16KK.M9T

Entry Name: Ring cairn and bowl barrow 540m south west of Higher Welsford

Scheduled Date: 23 March 1953

Last Amended: 29 October 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017139

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32237

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Hartland

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Hartland St Nectan

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a ring cairn and a bowl barrow situated on a high
upland ridge known as Welsford Moor, overlooking the valley of a tributary to
Seckington Water.
The ring cairn survives as a circular enclosure which measures 32.9m in
diameter and which is enclosed by a bank which measures up to 3.9m wide and 1m
high. An outer ditch is visible on the eastern side where it measures up to
3.9m wide and 0.1m deep; elsewhere it is preserved as a buried feature. The
whole feature is crossed by a substantial field boundary bank which runs
approximately north west to south east and is deeply ditched on the western
side and supports a stock proof fence on its eastern side. Immediately
adjacent to the boundary and running parallel with it on the western side is a
track. This has been built up to a height of 0.4m and is 5.4m wide.
The bowl barrow lies to the east and survives as a circular mound which
measures 29.4m in diameter and is 1.4m high. The surrounding quarry ditch from
which material to construct the mound was derived is preserved as a buried
feature and measures approximately 3m wide. The archaeologically sensitive
area between these two distinctive features is also included in the
The field boundary, stock proof fence and track are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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 ring cairn 580m south west of Higher Welsford survives comparatively well,
despite reduction in its height through cultivation and the construction of a
track across it. It will contain archaeological information relating to the
construction and use of the ring cairn as well environmental evidence
concerning the surrounding landscape. The accompanying bowl barrow attests to
a slightly different type of activity and further adds to the general
importance of this area. Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round
barrow, and are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to
the Late Bronze Age.

Source: Historic England


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS22SE13, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS22SE14, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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