Ancient Monuments

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Four cairns 560m east of Hapstead Ford and 1660m east of Ryder's Hill, forming part of a cairn cemetery in the Mardle Valley

A Scheduled Monument in West Buckfastleigh, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5055 / 50°30'19"N

Longitude: -3.8682 / 3°52'5"W

OS Eastings: 267615.4605

OS Northings: 68961.7455

OS Grid: SX676689

Mapcode National: GBR QB.3N26

Mapcode Global: FRA 27SQ.GTX

Entry Name: Four cairns 560m east of Hapstead Ford and 1660m east of Ryder's Hill, forming part of a cairn cemetery in the Mardle Valley

Scheduled Date: 24 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019270

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28766

County: Devon

Civil Parish: West Buckfastleigh

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Holne St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument, which falls into four areas of protection, includes four cairns,
forming part of a cairn cemetery situated on a gentle south facing slope
overlooking the valley of River Mardle. The northern example is a ring cairn
and survives as a 1.5m wide by 0.5m high rubble bank surrounding an internal
area measuring 7.8m in diameter. A number of edge set slabs within this bank
may represent a kerb. The second cairn lies to the south east and survives as
an 8m diameter mound standing up to 0.4m high. The easternmost cairn is 8.4m
in diameter and stands up to 1m high. The southern cairn is flat-topped, 0.7m
high and 9.9m in diameter. A number of edge edge set stones around the
periphery of the mound represent a kerb.
Hollows and trenches cutting into all four cairns indicate that they have been
subjected to early undocumented investigations.

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. Cairnfields are concentrations of three or
more cairns sited within close proximity to one another; they may consist of
burial cairns or cairns built with stone cleared from the land surface
(clearance cairns). Round funerary cairns were constructed during the Bronze
Age (c.2000-700 BC) and consisted of earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes
ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Often occupying prominent
locations, they are a major visual element in the modern landscape. The
considerable variation in the size of cairnfields and their 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.

Despite partial excavation, the four cairns 560m east of Hapstead Ford and
1660m east of Ryder's Hill, forming part of a cairn cemetery survive well and
contain important archaeological and environmental information relating to the
monument and the landscape in which it was built. With two types of cairn
present, this group of funerary sites will contain contrasting information
concerning burial practices. Ring cairns are relatively rare, with between 250
and 500 known examples natioanally.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, , Vol. 4, (1993), 172

Source: Historic England

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