Ancient Monuments

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Nine Stones ring cairn on Belstone Common

A Scheduled Monument in Belstone, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7186 / 50°43'7"N

Longitude: -3.9671 / 3°58'1"W

OS Eastings: 261230.756601

OS Northings: 92843.57408

OS Grid: SX612928

Mapcode National: GBR Q4.X0RG

Mapcode Global: FRA 27L5.SBC

Entry Name: Nine Stones ring cairn on Belstone Common

Scheduled Date: 27 October 1971

Last Amended: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017871

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28668

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Belstone

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Belstone St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a ring cairn situated on a west facing slope overlooking
the valley of the East Okement River. The cairn survives as a ring of at least
16 upright stones, standing up to 0.7m high, surrounding a slightly raised 7m
diameter internal area. A mound of material lying to the west of the cairn
represents spoil thrown up during partial early excavation. The pit formed by
this work survives as a slight hollow within the centre of the cairn.

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.

Despite partial robbing, the Nine Stones ring cairn on Belstone Common
survives comparatively well and contains archaeological information relating
to the monument and the environment in which it was constructed. This cairn
is one of the more striking examples on Dartmoor.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 208

Source: Historic England

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