Chambered tomb, 630m north west of Elberry Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019132

Date first listed: 30-Jan-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Chambered tomb, 630m north west of Elberry Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Torbay (Unitary Authority)

National Grid Reference: SX 89319 57329


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

Reasons for Designation

Chambered tombs are funerary monuments constructed and used during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). They comprise linear mounds of stone covering one or more stone-lined burial chambers. With other types of long barrow they form the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly within the present landscape. Where investigated, chambered tombs appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only parts of the human remains having been selected for interment. The number of burials placed within the tombs suggests they were used over a considerable period of time and that they were important ritual sites for local communities. Some 300 chambered tombs are recorded in England. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as upstanding monuments, and due to their rarity, their considerable age and longevity as a monument type, all chambered tombs are considered to be nationally important.

Despite damage caused by cultivation and the construction of boundary banks, the chambered tomb, 630m north west of Elberry Farm at Broadsands survives, with structural elements of its chamber, passage entrance and surrounding cairn intact, as the only known surviving example of its type in Devon. It is known from excavation that the monument will contain archaeological and environmental evidence which will be informative about the burial practices of Neolithic peoples and the landscape in which the monument was constructed.


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


The monument includes a Neolithic chambered tomb located on the southern slope of hilly ground overlooking the Torbay coast at Broadsands. The tomb, which was incorporated into a hedge bank in antiquity, takes the form of a megalithic chamber which was found during excavation to contain human remains. The chamber, which has a single entrance passage, was set within a stone-built mound known as a cairn; this type of chambered tomb is also known as a passage grave. Excavation of the tomb by Ralegh Radford in 1958 has demonstrated that it comprises an irregular polygonal chamber with dimensions of 3.35m by 2.1m and with a maximum height of 1.6m. It was found that the chamber was constructed of eleven local limestone upright slabs (orthostats), of which seven still remain in situ; in the gaps between them was an infill of horizontally placed dry stone walling. One of the huge capstones of the tomb has been displaced in antiquity and lies semi-upright on the southern side of the monument. The chamber was encased in a mound of stones forming a near circular cairn shown by excavation to have been 12m in diameter at the time of construction but later reduced by cultivation and other activities to about 7m north-south by 9m east-west. Where the cairn survives it preserves the prehistoric ground surface beneath it. Entrance to the chamber was provided by a parallel-sided entrance passage 3.8m long and 1.2m wide lined with orthostats alternating with dry stone walling. This passage stood on the eastern side of the tomb and was fronted by a slightly concave forecourt. Further excavation of the interior of the chamber produced evidence for the fragmentary and dispersed remains of three primary inhumations, two adults and one infant, associated with Neolithic pottery. Their bones had been trodden into a natural earth floor where, at some later stage, fires had been lit and a stone pavement then set down sealing the burnt remains. This was considered by the excavator to be a ritual cleansing prior to the reuse of the chamber. Discovered lying upon the stone floor was part of the flexed skeleton of a young adult male associated with pottery which suggested the possibility of a Late Neolithic date for this secondary burial. The excavation also established that the tomb had been disturbed in the medieval period, possibly during its incorporation into a hedge bank which marked the parish boundary between Paignton and Churston Ferrers; some of the orthostats of the chamber were evidently displaced during this operation. The results of the excavations were fully reported upon by Ralegh Radford in the Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Exploration Society of 1957/58.

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: 33025

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ralegh Radford, C A, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Exploration Society' in The Chambered Tomb at Broadsands, Paignton, , Vol. 5, (1958), 147-167

End of official listing