Two kerbed cairns, one with a cist 315m north west of Swincombe Intake Works.
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. 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. 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.
Despite having been cut by a newtake wall and the cist having been disturbed by partial early excavation the two kerbed cairns, one with a cist 315m north west of Swincombe Intake Works, survive comparatively well and indicate the different types of funerary practices associated with cairn construction and building. Both will contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their relative chronology, changes in construction type, funerary and ritual practices and their overall landscape context. The fact that both have been incorporated into a later newtake wall indicates that they still formed an important and recognisable part of the landscape long after their original construction.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 10 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 two areas of protection, includes two kerbed cairns, one of which has a cist, situated on the crest of a south east facing slope overlooking the valley of the river Swincombe. Both cairns have been bisected by the northern wall of Joan Ford’s newtake. The eastern cairn survives as a circular stony mound measuring up to 11m in diameter and 0.4m high which has an internal almost continuous ring of small stones forming a kerb with a diameter of 8m and measuring up to 0.4m high. This cairn contains a cist which measures up to 1m long by 0.6m wide and has a displaced coverstone. The western cairn survives as a low circular stony mound measuring up to 0.3m high surrounded by a retaining kerb of large stone slabs which measures approximately 6m in diameter and is visible both sides of the newtake wall. Approximately seven of the upright kerb slabs remain insitu, although one is leaning, a further stone has been incorporated into the wall and one more has been reused as a gatepost.
Further archaeological remains in the vicinity are the subject of separate schedulings.