Two cairns on Cator Common
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1003297
Date first listed: 08-Jan-1979
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Teignbridge (District Authority)
Parish: Widecombe in the Moor
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 67423 77998, SX 68068 78340
Two ring cairns 690m south-east and 1220m east of Pizwell.
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. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation. Despite early partial excavation or robbing the two ring cairns 690m south east and 1220m east of Pizwell survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, relative chronology, use, funerary and ritual practices, territorial significance and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 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 two areas includes two ring cairns situated on the upper slopes of Cator Common. The eastern cairn survives as an irregular shaped stony ring bank measuring up to 12m in diameter and 0.7m high with a lower flat internal central area. The western cairn is of similar construction but has a partial inner facing kerb on the ring bank. It measures up to 16m in diameter and 0.6m high. Both cairns have been disturbed by partial early excavation or robbing.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: DV 1007
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, Volume One - The East , (1991), 138
PastScape Monument No:-442453 and 442493
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