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Three stone alignments, ten cairns, three stone hut circles and a length of the Great Western Reave on Longash Common

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Three stone alignments, ten cairns, three stone hut circles and a length of the Great Western Reave on Longash Common

List entry Number: 1013429

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Dartmoor Forest

National Park: DARTMOOR

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 05-Nov-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Jan-1996

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 24193

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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. Stone alignments or stone rows consist of upright stones set in single file or in avenues of two or more parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often physically linked to burial monuments, such as small cairns, cists and barrows, and are considered to have had an important ceremonial function. The Dartmoor alignments mostly date from the Late Neolithic period (c.2400-2000 BC). Some eighty examples, most of them on the outer Moor, provide over half the recorded national population. Due to their comparative rarity and longevity as a monument type, all surviving examples are considered nationally important, unless very badly damaged.

In addition to the three well preserved stone alignments the monument includes nine round cairns. 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. The monument also includes a ring cairn which 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. In addition to the ritual elements of the monument there are also earthworks relating to prehistoric land division and settlement. Prehistoric land division is represented by a section of the contour reave known as the Great Western Reave, which forms the eastern boundary of the monument. Reaves are part of an extensive system of prehistoric land division introduced during the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They consist of simple linear stone banks used to mark out discrete territories, some of which are tens of kilometres in extent. The systems are defined by parallel, contour and watershed reaves, dividing the lower land from the grazing zones of the higher moor and defining the watersheds of adjacent river systems. Occupation sites and funerary or ceremonial monuments are often incorporated in, or associated with, reave complexes. Their longevity and their relationship with other monument types provide important information on the diversity of social organisation, land divisions and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They show considerable longevity as a monument type, sometimes surviving as fossilised examples in medieval field plans. Associated with the reave are three stone hut circles. Stone hut circles and hut settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on Dartmoor. They mostly date from the Bronze Age, with the earliest examples on the Moor in this building tradition dating to about 1700 BC. The stone-based round houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; remains of the turf or thatch roof are not preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. Although they are common on the Moor, their longevity and their relationship with other monument types provide important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. Despite partial excavation, the three stone alignments, ten cairns, three stone hut circles and a short length of the Great Western Reave on Longash Common survive well and together form part of a particularly impressive collection of prehistoric monuments. This monument is a popular visitor attraction and is regularly used for educational purposes. Important archaeological information concerning many inter related aspects of the prehistoric exploitation of the Moor survives within this monument.

History

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

Details

This monument includes three stone alignments, ten cairns, three stone hut circles and a length of the Great Western Reave, it is situated on a gentle south west facing slope on Longash Common overlooking the valley of the River Walkham. The northern stone alignment is orientated approximately east to west and includes a 182m long, double row of upright stones, with heights ranging between 0.2m and 0.4m, although the blocking stone at the eastern end is much larger and stands up to 1.2m high. The spacing of the stones along the row averages 1.7m and the distance between the rows averages 1.1m. A second double stone alignment lies 24m south of this alignment and runs roughly parallel with it. This alignment includes a 264m long double row of upright stones, with heights ranging between 0.2m and 0.7m, although the blocking stone at the eastern end is much larger and stands up to 1.35m high. The spacing of the stones along the row varies considerably and the distance between the rows averages 0.9m. A cairn situated midway along the row, has a circular mound surrounded by a ring of seven upright stones forming a circle with an internal diameter of 3.6m. The mound itself measures 2.7m in diameter and stands up to 0.3m high. A hollow in the centre of the mound measures 0.8m long, 0.7m wide by 0.6m deep and may represent the site of a partial early excavation or robbing. Two granite slabs visible within the base of this pit may be the remains of a cist. According to Worth, this is the only example on Dartmoor of a cairn being sited along the length of a stone alignment and he further suggests that its location midway along its length supports the hypothesis that the alignment is more or less complete. The third stone alignment, which lies to the south of the second example is orientated approximately NNE to SSW and includes a 42m long row of upright stones, with heights ranging between 0.1m and 0.5m. The spacing of the stones along this row averages 0.9m and either end is denoted by a blocking stone. A small cairn lies at the north eastern end of the alignment and survives as a 3.5m diameter mound standing up to 0.3m high. A hollow in the centre of the mound measures 1.2m long, 0.9m wide and 0.2m deep, and may represent the site of a partial early excavation or robbing. According to Baring Gould, this cairn contained a cist. Three further cairns lie close to these alignments. A ring cairn lies 11m south of the southern double stone alignment and survives as a circular bank, 1.4m wide and 0.3m high surrounding an internal area measuring 15m in diameter. A 5m long, 3m wide and 0.5m deep hollow within the centre of the interior represents the site of a partial excavation carried out by Baring Gould in 1851. This work revealed a cist or inner circle of upright stones and an outer kerb. A ring of small upright stones visible around the edge of the central hollow may represent the remains of one of these kerbs. A mound lying immediately next to and west of the central hollow, measuring 5m long, 3m wide and 0.3m high is probably the spoil dump from the mid 19th century exploration. The second cairn lies 13m SSW of the ring cairn and survives as a 4.3m diameter mound standing up to 0.5m high. A hollow in the centre of this mound measuring 1.1m long, 1m wide and 0.4m deep, may also represent the site of an early partial excavation. The final cairn in the vicinity of the stone alignments lies 8m south of the southern double alignment and survives as a 10m diameter mound standing up to 0.3m high and contains a large stone cist. The cist includes edge set stones forming a rectangular pit, measuring 2.2m long, 0.9m wide and 0.8m deep, aligned south east to north west and partly covered by a large granite coverstone, which has been split into two parts. In 1895, the cist was investigated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee who found a flint scraper, a flint flake and a polishing stone. According to Worth the cist was too generously restored, and he clearly believed that it was originally smaller. In the area to the south east of the alignments, a length of the Great Western Reave together with three stone hut circles and five cairns are visible. The Great Western Reave has a total length of over 10km and is the longest known prehistoric land division boundary on Dartmoor. A 380m length of the reave survives within this scheduling where it runs downslope in a south easterly direction, is composed of rubble, measures 2m wide and stands up to 0.5m high. At least five separate cairns lie on top of or immediately adjacent to the reave, whilst one stone hut circle is attached to it and another two lie in close proximity. An 80m break in the reave apparently exists within the vicinity of the two stone hut circles, although the reave probably survives along this length as a buried feature. The southern end of the reave terminates on the edge of a tin streamwork, which has destroyed the southern extension. The northern end of the reave is visible up to the eastern end of the northern stone alignment. The five cairns associated with the reave are all considered to be more recent than the reave and are believed to have been constructed to serve a funerary purpose. The four northern cairns partly overlie the Great Western Reave whilst the southern one lies 1m to the east. These cairns vary in diameter from 2.5m to 5m and in height from 0.6m to 0.75m. One of the cairns has a kerb made up of two concentric rings of stone. The three stone hut circles situated within the vicinity of the Great Western Reave each survive as banks of stone and earth surrounding a circular internal area. The interior of the northern hut measures 7.5m in diameter and is surrounded by a 1.8m wide wall standing up to 0.6m high. The interior of the western hut measures 6m in diameter and is defined by a 1.8m wide wall standing up to 0.7m high, except on the SSW where partial robbing has removed a 4m length of walling. Within the vicinity of both huts the Great Western Reave survives as a buried feature. The southern stone hut circle is attached to the western side of the reave and its interior measures 6.3m in diameter. The surrounding outer walls are 1.6m wide and stand up to 0.3m high. This monument forms the central part of a wider cluster of nationally important monuments which are the subject of separate schedulings. The Longash leat is excluded from the monument. This monument is partly within the care of the Secretary of State.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 42-44
Rowe, S, A Perambulation of the Ancient and Royal Forest of Dartmoor208
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 215-216
Worth, R H, Worth's Dartmoor, (1981), 174
Baring Gould, S, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Second Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, , Vol. 27, (1895), 87
Baring Gould, S, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Second Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, , Vol. 27, (1895), 87
Baring Gould, S, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in Second Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, , Vol. 27, (1895), 85-86
Emmett, D D, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Stone Rows: The traditional view reconsidered, , Vol. 37, (1979), 111
Emmett, D D, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Stone Rows: The Traditional View Reconsidered, , Vol. 37, (1979), 111
Grinsell, L V, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in Dartmoor Barrows, , Vol. 36, (1978), 173
Wood, J E, Penny, A, 'Nature' in A Megalithic Observatory On Dartmoor, , Vol. 257, (1975), 205-207
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE106, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE108, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE108.1, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE13, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE135, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE135.1, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE136, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE146, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE167, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE274, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE282, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE283, (1986)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX57SE83, (1986)
Gibson, A, Single Monument Class Description - Stone Hut Circles, (1987)
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, (1994)
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE109,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE110,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE111,
National Archaeological Record, SX57SE12,

National Grid Reference: SX 55545 74795

Map

Map
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End of official listing