Five barrows on Hamel Down
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003296
Date first listed: 09-May-1956
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Teignbridge (District Authority)
District: Teignbridge (District Authority)
Parish: Widecombe in the Moor
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 70570 79898, SX 70576 79531, SX 70653 79203, SX 70681 79090
Five round cairns including those known as Broad Barrow, Single Barrow and Two barrows forming part of a linear cairn cemetery on Hamel Down.
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. Dartmoor provides one of the best preserved and most dense concentrations of round cairns in south-western Britain. Despite partial early excavation of some of the five round cairns on Hamel Down they all survive comparatively well and form part of a linear cairn cemetery. Artefacts from the excavations highlight the contemporary importance of these cairns. Furthermore, they will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the mounds and the landscape in which they were erected. The prominent position of the cairns suggests they were an important territorial marker and this is reflected in their later use as boundary markers.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 5 November 2015. This 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.
This monument which falls into four separate areas includes five cairns situated on Hamel Down. The cairns form part of a cemetery including at least nine cairns. The northernmost survives as a circular earth and stone built mound measuring 40m in diameter and up to 2m high. The centre is slightly hollowed. A boundary stone sits on top of the mound and is marked ‘Broad Burrow’. To the south the second cairn survives as a circular stony mound measuring 21.5m in diameter and up to 1m high. This cairn supports a boundary stone marked ‘Single Burrow’ and was partially excavated by Bate and Rowe in 1873. This excavation revealed a stone kerb, a small central cairn and some cremated bone mixed with charcoal and a flint flake 2m to the south east of the central feature. To the south are a further two cairns. The northern of the two survives as a circular stony mound measuring 17m in diameter and up to 1.4m high. It has a boundary stone marked ‘Two Burrows’. This was excavated by Bate in 1872 producing a central cairn covered by five stone slabs and nearby a dagger with an amber studded pommel. Four metres to the south is an 11.5m diameter and 1m high circular cairn which is crossed by a granite boundary wall. The southernmost cairn of the group survives as a circular flat topped mound measuring 13m in diameter and 1m high and has a shallow central hollow and lies within Blackaton Down newtake.
Some cairns forming part of this cairn cemetery are protected by separate schedulings, whilst others are not because they have not been formally assessed.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 369
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, Volume One - The East , (1991), 148
PastScape Monument Nos:- 445043, 445080, 445083 and 445086
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing