Ancient Monuments

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Cairn and cist 400m east of Lydford Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5857 / 50°35'8"N

Longitude: -3.9745 / 3°58'28"W

OS Eastings: 260317.244331

OS Northings: 78082.834131

OS Grid: SX603780

Mapcode National: GBR Q3.ZJVY

Mapcode Global: FRA 27KJ.9D5

Entry Name: Cairn and cist 400m east of Lydford Tor

Scheduled Date: 22 December 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021179

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34476

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartmoor Forest

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


The monument includes a cairn and cist situated on an east facing slope of
Beardown Tors overlooking the valley of the West Dart River. The cairn
survives as a 5m diameter flat-topped mound standing up to 0.6m high. Edge
set stones protruding up to 0.25m high around the western edge of the
mound represent a kerb which survives elsewhere as a buried feature. In
the centre of the mound is a cist which is orientated north-south and
measures 1.23m long by 0.65m wide and 0.65m deep. A large slab lying a
short distance to the north west of the cist represents a coverstone
displaced during an earlier investigation.

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 early excavation, the cairn and cist 400m east of Lydford
Tor survives well and contains important archaeological and environmental
information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was
built. The cairn represents a very good example of a small mound
containing a large cist.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The Second Millennium B.C.' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, , Vol. 5, (1997), 197

Source: Historic England

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