Four round barrows on Wigford Down


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1002522

Date first listed: 29-Jun-1960


Ordnance survey map of Four round barrows on Wigford Down
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Meavy

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 54938 65090, SX 54956 65032, SX 54989 65018, SX 55065 64975


One ring cairn and four round cairns forming part of a round cairn cemetery on Wigford Down, 660m north of Lower Cadworthy Farm.

Reasons for Designation

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.

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 or surrounded by a retaining kerb Where they are grouped together with at least five other round cairns they are termed cemeteries which 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.

Despite some partial excavation the ring cairn and four round cairns forming part of a round cairn cemetery on Wigford Down 660m north of Lower Cadworthy Farm survive comparatively well. Ring cairns are a rare form of monument and being situated within a cemetery and also partially within a coaxial field system shows their importance as landmarks through time.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 November 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument, which falls into four separate areas of protection, includes a ring cairn and four round cairns forming part of a round cairn cemetery situated on Wigford Down, lying partially within the Wigford Down coaxial field system, overlooking the Plym Valley. The two western cairns are contained within the Wigford Down coaxial field system. The southern of these is a ring cairn which survives as a circular bank of stone measuring up to 3m wide and 0.5m high which surrounds a flat internal area with a diameter of up to 4m. The northern one is a round cairn which survives as a circular mound measuring 10m in diameter and 0.6m high. The remaining three round cairns lie outside the coaxial field system and survive as circular mounds which vary in size from 7.8m to 13m in diameter and from 0.5m to 1.1m in height. All three show evidence for either partial early excavation or robbing.

Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of the monument, some are scheduled, but others are not currently protected and these are not included within the scheduling because they have not been formally assessed.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: DV 435

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994)
PastScape Monument No:-439100, 439081, 439096, 439033 and 439513

End of official listing