Two round cairns on the northern slope of Metheral Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016642

Date first listed: 02-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Two round cairns on the northern slope of Metheral Hill
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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: 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- western Britain.

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)

End of official listing