Ring cairn and bowl barrow 540m south west of Higher Welsford


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017139

Date first listed: 23-Mar-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Oct-1999


Ordnance survey map of Ring cairn and bowl barrow 540m south west of Higher Welsford
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Torridge (District Authority)

Parish: Hartland

National Grid Reference: SS 27527 20831


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

Reasons for Designation

A ring cairn 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 fieldwork and ground level 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. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

The ring cairn 580m south west of Higher Welsford survives comparatively well, despite reduction in its height through cultivation and the construction of a track across it. It will contain archaeological information relating to the construction and use of the ring cairn as well environmental evidence concerning the surrounding landscape. The accompanying bowl barrow attests to a slightly different type of activity and further adds to the general importance of this area. Bowl barrows are the most numerous form of round barrow, and are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age.


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


This monument includes a ring cairn and a bowl barrow situated on a high upland ridge known as Welsford Moor, overlooking the valley of a tributary to Seckington Water. The ring cairn survives as a circular enclosure which measures 32.9m in diameter and which is enclosed by a bank which measures up to 3.9m wide and 1m high. An outer ditch is visible on the eastern side where it measures up to 3.9m wide and 0.1m deep; elsewhere it is preserved as a buried feature. The whole feature is crossed by a substantial field boundary bank which runs approximately north west to south east and is deeply ditched on the western side and supports a stock proof fence on its eastern side. Immediately adjacent to the boundary and running parallel with it on the western side is a track. This has been built up to a height of 0.4m and is 5.4m wide. The bowl barrow lies to the east and survives as a circular mound which measures 29.4m in diameter and is 1.4m high. The surrounding quarry ditch from which material to construct the mound was derived is preserved as a buried feature and measures approximately 3m wide. The archaeologically sensitive area between these two distinctive features is also included in the scheduling. The field boundary, stock proof fence and track are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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: 32237

Legacy System: RSM


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS22SE13, (1992)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS22SE14, (1992)

End of official listing