Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn 920m south west of Little Staple Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5562 / 50°33'22"N

Longitude: -4.0763 / 4°4'34"W

OS Eastings: 253017.521001

OS Northings: 74995.255001

OS Grid: SX530749

Mapcode National: GBR NZ.G8ST

Mapcode Global: FRA 27BL.KRT

Entry Name: Ring cairn 920m south west of Little Staple Tor

Scheduled Date: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020013

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34428

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

The monument includes a ring cairn situated on a gentle west facing slope
of Barn Hill overlooking large areas of West Devon and East Cornwall. The
cairn survives as a 2m wide rubble bank containing a large number of edge set
stones. This bank stands up to 0.6m high and surrounds an internal circular
area measuring 6.6m in diameter. A 3m wide and 0.1m deep ditch surrounds the
ring bank.
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.

MAP EXTRACT
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 ring cairn 920m south west of Little Staple Tor survives well and contains
archaeological and environmental information relating to this area during the
prehistoric period. 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

Sources

Books and journals
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 68

Source: Historic England

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