Ancient Monuments

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Cairn and cist on Chittaford Down, 300m north of Archerton

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Latitude: 50.5989 / 50°35'55"N

Longitude: -3.9275 / 3°55'39"W

OS Eastings: 263679.046632

OS Northings: 79456.356822

OS Grid: SX636794

Mapcode National: GBR Q6.BQVS

Mapcode Global: FRA 27NH.3QY

Entry Name: Cairn and cist on Chittaford Down, 300m north of Archerton

Scheduled Date: 1 August 1973

Last Amended: 22 June 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021330

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34489

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 north east facing
slope on Chittaford Down overlooking the valley of the East Dart River.
The cairn survives as an 8m diameter mound standing up to 0.6m. The
periphery of the mound is denoted in places by edge set stones denoting
the survival of a kerb.
In the centre of the mound is a cist which survives as a rectangular pit
denoted on three sides by edge set slabs. The cist is orientated north
west-south east and measures 1.3m long, 0.5m wide and up to 0.65m deep.
The cairn was partially excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee in
1900 and this work revealed a pit below the cist containing charcoal and a
flint flake. More significantly, below one of the side stones of the cist
an archer's stone wrist-guard was found.

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 Chittaford Down, 300m
north of Archerton survive comparatively well and will contain
archaeological and environmental information relating to this area during
the prehistoric period.
The presence of the cist and kerb confirms that structural information
will survive. 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 3, (2003)

Source: Historic England

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