Cairnfield on the western slope of White Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1007538

Date first listed: 18-Mar-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Jan-1993


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield on the western slope of White Hill
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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: Peter Tavy

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 52687 83860


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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, 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. Cairnfields are concentrations of three or more cairns sited within close proximity to one another; they may consist of burial cairns or cairns built with stone cleared from the land surface (clearance cairns). Round funerary cairns were constructed during the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) and consisted of earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major visual element in the modern landscape. The considerable variation in the size of cairnfields and their 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.

Despite evidence for partial excavation of some of the cairns, the cairnfield on the western slope of White Hill survives well and contains archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. It provides a valuable insight into Bronze Age agricultural activity.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


This monument includes a cairnfield situated on a gentle west-facing slope overlooking Lydford village. The monument includes twenty-one mounds and a lynchet or cultivation terrace which may be of contemporary date. Twelve of the mounds are scattered around the edge of a field, which is defined only by the location of the mounds. The remainder lie in a cluster together with the lynchet. Fifteen of the mounds are sub-circular in shape and these range in size from 2m to 7m in diameter and stand between 0.15m and 0.6m high. The remainder are ovoid in shape, and these range between 3m to 7m long, 1.5m to 4.5m wide and stand between 0.2m and 0.35m high. The average height of all the mounds is 0.35m. Six cairns have a shallow hollow in the centre of the mound, suggesting robbing or partial excavation. Some of the larger mounds are probably burial monuments; the remainder most likely represent stone clearance connected with cultivation of the area. These cairns form part of a wider cairnfield, comprising twenty-six mounds and a lynchet. The leat channel flowing through the area is excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath the leat bank is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 20342

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fowler, P J, The Farming of Prehistoric Britain, (1983), 129
Fleming, A, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in The Cairnfields of North-West Dartmoor, , Vol. 38, (1980), 9 - 12
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX58SW-053, (1985)
Raymond, F, Single Monument Class Description - Cairnfields, (1987)

End of official listing