Three round cairns 370m ENE of Down Tor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010782

Date first listed: 05-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Three round cairns 370m ENE of Down Tor
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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: Walkhampton

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 58385 69567


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, 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 and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Dartmoor provides one of the best preserved and most dense concentrations of round cairns in south- western Britain.

Despite partial early excavation, the three round cairns 370m ENE of Down Tor survive comparatively well and contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was erected. These cairns lie within an area containing a large number of broadly contemporary ritual, funerary and settlement sites.


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


This monument includes three small round cairns, each containing a cist revealed by partial excavation, situated within a north facing valley lying between Down Tor and Hingston Hill, overlooking the valley of Newleycombe Lake. The eastern cairn survives as a 4.5m diameter mound standing up to 0.8m high. The edge of the mound is defined by a kerb of large edge set stones. In the centre of the mound is a large cist which measures 1.19m long by up to 0.71m wide and 0.94m deep. The cist is orientated from north to south and is trapezoidal in shape. The western cairn lies 6.25m from the eastern cairn and survives as a 5m diameter mound standing up to 0.6m high. Edge set stones forming the south eastern periphery of this mound indicate the presence of a kerb, which survives largely as a buried feature. In the centre of the mound is a cist which is orientated ENE to WSW and measures 1.1m long by 0.7m wide and 0.5m deep. The third cairn lies immediately to the north and is separated from the western mound by a leat which measures 0.8m wide and 0.2m deep. The cairn survives as an oval mound measuring 3.5m long by 2.3m wide, and contains one of the smallest in situ cists on Dartmoor. The cist measures 0.53m long by 0.3m wide and 0.53m deep, and is orientated south east to north west. The leat separating the western and northern cairns leads from the Newleycombe Lake and carried water to openwork tin mines to the west.

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: 24051

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Newman, P, 'Rep. Trans. Devon. As. Advnt. Sci.' in The Moorland Meavy - A Tinners' Landscape, , Vol. 119, (1987), 227
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE174.1, (1984)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE174.2, (1984)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX56NE174.3, (1984)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,
National Archaeological Record, SX56NE127,

End of official listing