Tor cairn 180m north of High Willhays summit


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010593

Date first listed: 11-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of Tor cairn 180m north of High Willhays summit
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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: Okehampton Hamlets

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 58030 89377


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 provides 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. Tor cairns are ceremonial monuments dating to the Early and Middle Bronze Age (c.2000-1000 BC). They were constructed as ring banks of stone rubble, up to 35m in external diameter, sometimes with entrances and external ditches, and roughly concentric around natural outcrops or tors. In some cases a kerb of edge-set stones bounded the inner edge of the bank, and the area between the bank and the outcrop was sometimes in-filled by laying down a platform of stone rubble or turves. Excavated examples have revealed post-holes and pits within the area defined by the ring-bank, some containing burial evidence, and scatters of Bronze Age artefacts concentrated around the central tor. Tor cairns usually occur as isolated monuments, though several are associated with broadly contemporary cairn cemeteries. They are very rare nationally with only 40-50 known examples concentrated on the higher moors of Devon and Cornwall, where their situation in prominent locations makes them a major visual element in the modern landscape. As a rare monument type, all surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.

The tor cairn 180m north of High Willhays summit survives comparatively well and is one of only four known examples on Dartmoor where the ring banks are attached to the face of a tor. Archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was erected survives within this cairn, which is situated near to the highest point on the moor.


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


This monument includes a tor cairn situated near the summit of High Willhays, the highest point in southern England. The cairn includes a semicircular stone faced bank attached to the southern face of a large rock outcrop. The ring bank survives as a 1.5m wide curving earthwork standing up to 0.7m high. A short length of the outer face of the south western part of the bank is faced with large slabs of stone laid flat and standing up to three courses high. This kerb probably survives elsewhere within the ring bank as a buried feature. The area enclosed by the ring bank measures 10m east to west by 7m north to south.

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: 24159

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Turner, J R, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, , Vol. 48, (1990), 69
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX58NE41, (1983)

End of official listing