A stone alignment with two terminal cairns on Stall Moor.
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. Stone alignments or stone rows consist of upright stones set in single file or in avenues of two or more parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often physically linked to burial monuments, such as small cairns, cists and barrows, and are considered to have had an important ceremonial function. The Dartmoor alignments mostly date from the Late Neolithic period (c.2400-2000 BC). Some eighty examples, most of them on the outer Moor, provide over half the recorded national population. Due to their comparative rarity and longevity as a monument type, all surviving examples are considered nationally important.
Despite the loss of some stones as a result of tin streaming and the accumulation of peat deposits obscuring others from view, the stone alignment with two terminal cairns in the Upper Erme Valley is the longest surviving row on Dartmoor. Its subtle changes of direction and the fact that it crosses three separate watercourses also make it very unusual. It is well preserved and being surrounded in peat will undoubtedly contain important evidence relating to its surrounding landscape context as well as archaeological information concerning its construction, use, development and longevity. It has long had an important history as a respected land mark.
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 includes a stone alignment with two terminal cairns one of which has an encircling kerb situated on Stall Moor in the Upper Erme Valley. The southern terminal cairn survives as a circular mound measuring 15.8m in diameter and 0.3m high, surrounded by a kerb which includes 26 orthostats standing between 0.7m and 1.5m high, forming a ring with a diameter of 15.5m. On the southern side is a hollow which suggests early partial excavation, robbing or peat cutting. The stone ring is known as ‘The Dancers’. The single stone alignment consists of mainly small stones measuring up to 0.8m high and spaced at as little as 1m apart at the southern end, where more widely spaced the build up of peat obscures the stones from view. The alignment is approximately 3320m in length and crosses three watercourses. It is basically aligned north to south but does make several minor changes in direction along its length. At the northern end just below the summit of Green Hill the alignment ends close to the second cairn. This cairn survives as a circular stony mound measuring 9m in diameter and up to 0.7m high. It has several large stones at its centre one of which is set on edge and may represent part of a cist. There is a slightly hollowed centre indicative of early partial 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.