Ancient Monuments

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Cairn and cist 875m north west of Arch Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5927 / 50°35'33"N

Longitude: -3.9404 / 3°56'25"W

OS Eastings: 262753.800822

OS Northings: 78797.93727

OS Grid: SX627787

Mapcode National: GBR Q6.C1LY

Mapcode Global: FRA 27MH.QQD

Entry Name: Cairn and cist 875m north west of Arch Tor

Scheduled Date: 27 June 1963

Last Amended: 22 June 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021327

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34486

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 includes a cairn and cist situated on a south facing slope
overlooking the valley of the Cherry Brook. The cairn survives as three
concentric rings of edge set slabs surrounding a central cist. The inner
ring includes at least eight large orthostats standing up to 1m high
surrounding a 3.5m diameter internal area. The middle ring is 0.6m to 0.8m
beyond the first and includes at least five edge set orthostats. The outer
ring is about 1.2m from the middle one and includes a number of stones
protruding through the turf forming an 8.6m diameter circle. The central
cist survives as a rectangular pit denoted on three sides by edge set
slabs. The cist is orientated NNW-SSE and measures 0.9m long by 0.56m wide
and up to 0.9m deep.
The northern part of the cairn is overlain by an historic boundary bank
measuring 1.3m wide and up to 0.95m high. On the northern side of this
bank is the ditch from which material was quarried during its

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.

Despite partial excavation and the building of a later field boundary, the
ring cairn and cist 875m north west of Arch Tor survive very well. The
presence of three well preserved kerbs indicates that important and
unusual archaeological and related environmental information survives
within this monument. In broader terms the monument also provides a
valuable insight into Bronze Age funerary and ritual activity as well as
providing information concerning territorial control on the Moor.

Source: Historic England


NMR, English Heritage, NMR Monument Report SX 67 NW 8, (2003)

Source: Historic England

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