Ring cairn and rectangular building earthwork 940m west of Widgery Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010783

Date first listed: 01-Mar-1995


Ordnance survey map of Ring cairn and rectangular building earthwork 940m west of Widgery Cross
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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: Lydford

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 53010 85592


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. 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.

In addition to the ring cairn, the monument includes a small rectangular structure which is probably a medieval or early post-medieval shelter. Such structures provided temporary accommodation for shepherds, peat cutters, tinners and other workers. The shelter contains information relating to the seasonal and occasional use of the moor. The ring cairn and rectangular building 940m west of Widgery Cross survive comparatively well and contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was erected. The cairn is one of at least four ring cairns forming part of a dispersed group of cairns situated on a 2.5km long spur alongside the River Lyd.


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


This monument includes a ring cairn and a small rectangular building earthwork situated on a gentle east facing slope overlooking the valley of the River Lyd. The ring cairn earthwork survives as a bank, 3.4m wide and 0.3m high surrounding a circular internal area measuring 10m in diameter. A mound measuring 6m in diameter and 0.3m high stands in the centre of the area enclosed by the bank. The building earthwork is attached to the southern outer face of the ring cairn and includes a 1.5m wide and 0.2m high bank surrounding an internal area measuring 7m north to south by 4m east to west. This building probably represents a medieval or early post medieval shelter.

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: 24070

Legacy System: RSM


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX58NW20, (1981)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard,

End of official listing