Two round cairns on the northern slope of Metheral Hill
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1016642
Date first listed: 02-Jul-1999
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Devon (District Authority)
Parish: South Tawton
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 62485 90094, SX 62526 90085
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-
The two round cairns on the northern slope of Metheral Hill survive well and contain archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which they were built. The survival of the kerbs suggests that significant structural information also survives in these mounds. These mounds lie close to a broadly contemporary territorial reave and overlook a large settlement complex. Their prominent position also suggests that they may have also been territorial markers.
The monument, which falls into two areas, includes two round cairns situated
on a north facing slope overlooking the valley of the River Taw. The eastern
cairn survives as an 8m diameter and 0.9m high mound. The western cairn lies
40.5m to the west and survives as a 5m diameter and 0.65m high mound denoted
on the south by an edge set stone which probably represents a kerb which
survives elsewhere as a buried feature. Neither mound has been robbed or
investigated using destructive methods.
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: 28725
Legacy System: RSM
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1998)
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing