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Five cairns, two stone alignments and three cists, forming part of a ritual complex on Lakehead Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5826 / 50°34'57"N

Longitude: -3.9149 / 3°54'53"W

OS Eastings: 264529.1072

OS Northings: 77623.9165

OS Grid: SX645776

Mapcode National: GBR Q7.KN3Y

Mapcode Global: FRA 27PJ.GN4

Entry Name: Five cairns, two stone alignments and three cists, forming part of a ritual complex on Lakehead Hill

Scheduled Date: 17 July 1963

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018510

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28687

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartmoor Forest

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, which falls into five areas of protection, includes five cairns,
two stone alignments and three cists lying on a gentle slope near the summit
of Lakehead Hill. The northern ring cairn survives as a 6m diameter circle of
upright slabs standing up to 0.4m high surrounding a slightly raised area. In
the centre of the circle is a small 0.15m high mound. To the south east a
second cairn includes an 8m diameter and 0.1m high mound containing a north
west to south east orientated cist measuring 0.9m long by 0.55m wide. The cist
is now backfilled and protrudes 0.4m high above the present land surface. Part
excavation of the cist in 1898 by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, revealed
flint knives and scrapers together with pottery fragments and charcoal.
The northern of the two stone alignments includes a 22m long, single row of at
least 12 stones standing up to 0.75m high, aligned east to west. The second
stone alignment within the monument lies further to the east and survives as a
single row of at least 11 stones leading westward towards a cairn and cist.
The cairn measures 6.7m in diameter and is defined by several edge set stones,
which in turn surround a large restored cist formed by five substantial
upright slabs supporting a capstone measuring 2.2m long by 1.55m wide and 0.3m
The southern ring cairns both include circles of edge set stones. The northern
cairn measures 7.8m in diameter and the surrounding stones stand up to 0.9m
high. The second cairn lies a short distance to the south; this measure 6.9m
in diameter and contains a central cist. The cist protrudes 0.4m above the
surrounding ground surface and is covered by a capstone measuring 1.7m long,
1.28m wide and 0.15m thick.

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.

The ritual complex on Lakehead Hill together with other funerary sites in the
vicinity, contains considerable evidence for ritual activity in this part of
Bronze Age Dartmoor.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 50

Source: Historic England

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