Cairnfield and associated earthworks on the north eastern slope of White Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Devon (District Authority)
Peter Tavy
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SX 53459 84047

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.

The cairnfield on the north eastern 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 on the western side of the Moor.


This monument includes 13 cairns, a length of boundary bank and a lynchet situated on a south facing slope overlooking the valley of the Walla Brook. Of the cairns, eight have mounds that are sub-circular in shape and these range in size from 3m to 6m in diameter and stand between 0.4m and 0.8m high. The remainder are ovoid in shape, and these range between 5m to 9m long, 3m to 5m wide and stand between 0.5m and 0.8m high. The average height of all the mounds is 0.66m. One cairn has a shallow hollow in the centre of the mound, suggesting robbing or partial excavation. Some of the cairns may contain burials, but the group most likely represents stone clearance connected with cultivation of the area. Remnants of an associated field system survive as an 80m long, 1.6m wide and 0.4m high lynchet following the contour, and a 64m long, 2m wide and 0.3m high boundary bank leading downslope from the lynchet. This field system was probably originally more extensive and now survives largely in the form of buried remains, the full extent of which are not known. Further cairns lying to the east and west of this monument are the subject of separate schedulings. Due to factors of scale in mapping the map extract may seem to imply that sites SM22347 and SM22345 adjoin, but they are in fact separate on the ground.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 107
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX58SW91,
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
Raymond, F, Single Monument Class Description - Cairnfields, (1987)


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

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