Ancient Monuments

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Round cairn 780m south of the Thirlstone

A Scheduled Monument in Gidleigh, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6582 / 50°39'29"N

Longitude: -3.9408 / 3°56'26"W

OS Eastings: 262912.957943

OS Northings: 86080.702893

OS Grid: SX629860

Mapcode National: GBR Q6.6TRY

Mapcode Global: FRA 27MB.JK6

Entry Name: Round cairn 780m south of the Thirlstone

Scheduled Date: 19 January 1962

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017924

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28660

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Gidleigh

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Widecombe-in-the-Moor St Pancras

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a visually prominent round cairn situated on the eastern
crest of an unnamed ridge leading south from Watern Tor. The cairn survives
as a 24m diameter and 3m high stony mound. A pit in the centre of the cairn
suggests early partial excavation or robbing. A pile of stones on the southern
side of the mound and a small drystone built shelter are both the result of
relatively recent activity. A band of rushes measuring up to 3.5m wide around
the outer edge of the cairn on the north and eastern sides may indicate the
presence of a buried ditch which on the southern side survives as a 1.5m wide
and 0.3m deep hollow. Some of the material used in the construction of the
cairn will have been derived from this ditch.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 6 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 partial excavation and limited disturbance, the round cairn 780m south
of the Thirlstone survives well and contains archaeological and environmental
information relating to this area during the prehistoric period. This cairn
is one of a relatively small number of large cairns situated in a prominent
position within this part of Dartmoor and it is considered that as a group
they formed important territorial markers.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 211

Source: Historic England

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