Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cairn and cist on Barn Hill, 840m north east of Moortown Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5526 / 50°33'9"N

Longitude: -4.0717 / 4°4'18"W

OS Eastings: 253332.791248

OS Northings: 74584.629

OS Grid: SX533745

Mapcode National: GBR NZ.GHZH

Mapcode Global: FRA 27CL.TSQ

Entry Name: Cairn and cist on Barn Hill, 840m north east of Moortown Farm

Scheduled Date: 7 March 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020007

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22367

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


The monument includes a cairn containing a cist situated on a gentle south
facing slope of Barn Hill overlooking the valley of the River Walkham. The
cairn survives as a 5.7m diameter mound standing up to 0.2m high. The cist is
situated slightly south of the cairn's centre and survives as a 0.98m long by
0.6m wide and 0.3m deep stone lined pit. The base of the cist is level with
the present ground surface and the side stones protrude 0.3m high above this.
This monument sits within an extensive coaxial field system which extends
over much of Whitchurch Common and the slopes of Cox Tor, and forms the
subject of separate schedulings

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. Cists are small rectangular stone
structures used for burial purposes and date to the Bronze Age. On Dartmoor
they are made up of regular stone slabs forming a box-like structure sometimes
topped by a larger coverstone. Short cists survive as free-standing monuments,
with no enclosing stone and earth cairn. On Dartmoor cists are also associated
with cairns, ring cairns and cairnfield groups, but these free-standing
examples form a separate group in their own right. Their longevity, having
been in use for a millennium or so, provides insight into the range of
ceremonial and ritual practices of the contemporary farming communities. The
Dartmoor examples provide one of the best preserved and most dense
concentrations of this class of monument in south-western Britain and, as
such, a high proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Despite partial excavation, the cairn and cist on Barn Hill, 840m north east
of Moortown Farm survive well and will contain environmental and
archaeological information relating to the monument and the landscape in
which it was constructed. This monument lies within a coaxial field system
and forms part of a particularly well-preserved palimpsest on Whitchurch
Common, containing abundant evidence for the use of the area in both
prehistoric and historic times.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 34

Source: Historic England

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