Cairnfield, irregular aggregate field system, a ring cairn and three round cairns 800m and 920m south of Moorgate Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016634

Date first listed: 02-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield, irregular aggregate field system, a ring cairn and three round cairns 800m and 920m south of Moorgate Farm
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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 59588 92125, SX 59790 92275


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, 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. Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are a major feature of the Dartmoor landscape. Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have been employed in south-west England from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC-AD 400). They comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. They are often located around or near ceremonial and funerary monuments. They are an important element of the existing landscape and are representative of farming practice over a long period. A substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Lying within the irregular aggregate field system south of Moorgate Farm is a well preserved cairnfield, together with a cairn containing a cist and a ring cairn. Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity and usually of Bronze Age date (c.2000-700 BC). The considerable varieties in the size of cairnfields and their longevity as a monument type provide important information in the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. Direct associations of the kind in evidence here are very rare on Dartmoor and this one provides a significant insight into the character of Bronze Age activity in this area of the moor.


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


The monument, which falls into two areas, is overlooked by Rowtor and includes at least 29 small mounds forming a cairnfield, an irregular aggregate field system consisting of at least five fields, a stone hut circle, a cairn containing a cist, a ring cairn and two further mounds which may contain burials. Although now lying just outside the Okehampton Range, the area has been intensively used for military training in the past and scores of pits and trenches bear testimony to this activity. Most of the cairns forming the Bronze Age cairnfield lie within the south western field and stand between 0.2m and 0.7m high. Twenty-two of the mounds are circular in shape and measure between 2.5m and 5.5m in diameter. The remainder are oval and vary in length between 3m and 4.5m. The field system is defined by a series of sinuous low rubble banks which together form at least five fields, which have been added over a period of time. At the northern end of the field system is an oval structure which may represent a broadly contemporary stone hut circle. Within the eastern part of the field system is an 8.3m diameter and 0.5m high cairn. In the centre of this mound is a pit, one side of which is denoted by a large edge set stone which may represent one edge of a much disturbed cist. In the southern field is a circular bank measuring up to 3m wide and 0.6m high surrounding a 17.5m diameter internal area. The ring bank has been cut in four places by military pits and others in the vicinity further confuse the situation. Despite this, it is clear that this earthwork represents the site of a ring cairn. Two mounds lying south west of the field system may represent funerary cairns. The first one lies at NGR SX 59599214 and survives as a 0.7m high and 6.1m diameter mound with a small central pit. The second cairns lies a short distance to the south west at SX 59579212 and measures 5.8m high by 0.6m high.

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: 28717

Legacy System: RSM


MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1998)
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1998)

End of official listing