Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Round cairn and Headland Warren boundary stone 210m north of Birch Tor

A Scheduled Monument in North Bovey, Devon

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 50.6196 / 50°37'10"N

Longitude: -3.8579 / 3°51'28"W

OS Eastings: 268666.603056

OS Northings: 81630.855402

OS Grid: SX686816

Mapcode National: GBR Q9.WBQV

Mapcode Global: FRA 27TF.DW8

Entry Name: Round cairn and Headland Warren boundary stone 210m north of Birch Tor

Scheduled Date: 22 June 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021341

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34500

County: Devon

Civil Parish: North Bovey

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: North Bovey St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a round cairn and warren boundary stone situated
near the summit of Birch Tor overlooking extensive parts of central
Dartmoor. The cairn survives as an 18m diameter flat-topped mound standing
up to 2.2m high. A substantial hollow on the southern side of the mound
represents the site of partial stone robbing by a road contractor in 1925.
This work revealed an internal stone kerb, two slabs of which are still
visible in the undisturbed part of the cairn.

The warren boundary stone lies 10m north west of the cairn. It stands 0.8m
high and is inscribed with the letters `WB' on its eastern face.

The stone forms part of a group of at least 16 stones which denote the
edges of Headland Warren. Headland Warren covers about 246ha and includes
at least 37 pillow mounds, five vermin traps, six rectilinear enclosures
and the warren house itself. The warren was certainly in existence by 1754
and continued in use until around 1920.

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. Round cairns are prehistoric funerary
monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, the latter predominating in areas of upland Britain
where such raw materials were locally available in abundance. Round cairns may
cover single or multiple burials and are sometimes surrounded by an outer
ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major visual element in
the modern landscape. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a
monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and
social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are
particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of
surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Dartmoor provides one
of the best preserved and most dense concentrations of round cairns in south-
western Britain.

Warrens are areas of land set aside for the breeding and management of
rabbits or hares. They usually include a series of purpose-built breeding
places, known as pillow mounds and buries, vermin traps and enclosures
designed to contain and protect the animals, and living quarters for the
warrener who kept charge of the warren.

Pillow mounds are low oblong-shaped mounds of soil and/or stones in which
the animals lived. They are usually between 15m and 40m long and between
5m and 10m wide. Most have a ditch around at least three sides to
facilitate drainage. Inside are a series of narrow interconnecting
trenches. These were excavated and covered with stone or turf before the
mound was constructed.

Vermin traps of various kinds are found within most warrens. These include
a small stone-lined passage into which the predator was funnelled by a
series of ditches or walls. Over 100 vermin traps have been recorded on
the Moor, with the majority lying in the Plym Valley.

Warren boundaries were often defined by a combination of natural features
such as rivers. Within the warrens themselves smaller enclosed areas
defined by a ditch and bank are sometimes found, and some of these may
have been specialised breeding areas. Many of the warrens on the Moor
contain a house in which the warrener lived.

Most of the surviving warren earthworks probably date to between the 17th
century and the later 19th century, with some continuing in use into the
early 20th century. At least 22 warrens are known to exist on the Moor and
together they contribute to our understanding of the medieval and
post-medieval exploitation of our area. All well-preserved warrens are
considered worthy of protection.

Despite partial robbing, the round cairn 210m north of Birch Tor survives
comparatively well and contains archaeological and environmental
information relating to this area during the prehistoric period. The
presence of the internal 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.

The Headland Warren boundary stone is one of at least 16 such stones and
forms part of the best preserved group on Dartmoor.

Source: Historic England


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX68SE90, (1993)
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2003)

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.