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Two cairns and a cist on the western slope of Great Gnats' Head

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: Two cairns and a cist on the western slope of Great Gnats' Head

List entry Number: 1016146


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

County: Devon

District: South Hams

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Shaugh Prior

National Park: DARTMOOR

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 25-Sep-1997

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 10752

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. 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 two cairns and cist on the western slope of Great Gnats' Head survive comparatively well, form part of a discrete group of cairns and are known from part excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. This monument forms part of a well preserved, extensive and complex archaeological landscape.


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


This monument, which falls into two areas, includes two round cairns and a cist situated on a west facing slope of Great Gnats' Head overlooking the valley of the River Plym. These cairns form part of a dispersed group of funerary monuments. The cist survives as a 0.91m long, 0.81m wide and 0.78m deep pit, denoted on the north and south sides by edge set stones. The eastern end slab has been displaced and now lies between the two side stones. A very slight mound standing up to 0.2m high surrounds the cist but this was probably constructed when the cist was partly restored following excavation in 1901. This work revealed a pit dug into the floor of the cist, but no artefacts were recovered. A cairn lies 4m south of the cist and this survives as a 4m diameter and 0.2m high mound. This cairn was also investigated in 1901 and found to cover a circular, carefully paved area lying on top of a large flat stone. The final cairn lies 70m to the ENE and survives as 3.3m diameter and 0.5m high mound.

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
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1994), 155
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory
Thackray, C., The Upper Plym Valley: The management of an historic landscape, 1994, Archaeological Site Inventory

National Grid Reference: SX 61200 68028, SX 61288 68055


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This copy shows the entry on 16-Aug-2018 at 04:41:01.

End of official listing