Eight cairns forming part of a cairn cemetery on Holne Ridge and a stone alignment immediately west of Horn's Cross


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Eight cairns forming part of a cairn cemetery on Holne Ridge and a stone alignment immediately west of Horn's Cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Hams (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SX 66633 71129, SX 66729 71078, SX 66914 71119, SX 66918 70995, SX 66920 71040, SX 66929 71184

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. Cairnfields are concentrations of three or more cairns sited within close proximity to one another; they may consist of burial cairns or cairns built with stone cleared from the land surface (clearance cairns). Round funerary cairns were constructed during the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) and consisted of earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major visual element in the modern landscape. The considerable variation in the size of cairnfields and their 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.

Despite partial excavation of all but one mound, the eight cairns forming part of a cairn cemetery, and stone alignment immediately west of Horn's Cross survive well and contain important archaeological and environmental information relating to the construction and use of the monument and the landscape in which it was built. The ring cairn is one of only 250-500 known examples nationally, while the alignment is one of some 80 examples on Dartmoor, these providing over half of the national population. These cairns, together with the stone alignment form part of a group of visually impressive cairns situated on high ground overlooking the best preserved Bronze Age coaxial field system on the Moor.


The monument, which falls into six areas of protection, includes eight cairns forming part of a cairn cemetery or cairnfield, and a stone alignment, situated on a gentle north facing slope of Holne Ridge overlooking the valley of the River Dart. Five cairns are on the east side of the monument. The northernmost cairn in this area measures 11.7m in diameter and stands up to 0.7m high. A second cairn standing close to this one measures 13.8m in diameter and 1.3m high. The cairn to the south is of the ring variety and includes a 2.4m wide and 0.7m high bank surrounding a 11.5m diameter circular internal area. South of the ring cairn is another round cairn, this one measuring 5.4m in diameter and 0.6m high. This cairn was excavated by the Barrow Committee of the Devonshire Association in 1905 and this work revealed a central pit containing charcoal and burnt bones. The southernmost cairn in the group measures 3.5m in diameter and up to 0.5m high. Within the western part of the monument there are three further cairns and a stone alignment. The stone alignment is at NGR SX66707108 and is associated with two cairns. The eastern of these measures 7.7m in diameter, stands up to 0.9m high and is surrounded by a 2.2m wide ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the mound. The second cairn stands a short distance north of the alignment and survives as a 3.8m diameter mound standing up to 0.4m high. The stone alignment is of the double variety consisting of two rows of stones leading towards the ditched cairn. The southern row includes at least two upright slabs standing up to 0.8m high, whilst the northern row is denoted by two smaller stones. The westernmost cairn in the cemetery includes a 3.5m diameter stoney mound standing up to 0.2m high in which a cist remains visible. The interior of the cist is 0.75m square and its western side slab is 1.5m long by 0.4m thick and 0.9m high. Most of the cairns within this monument possess hollows or trenches associated with early investigations, of which only one is documented.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, , Vol. 4, (1993), 195
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, , Vol. 4, (1993), 194-5
Butler, J, 'Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - The North' in Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, , Vol. 4, (1993), 195
MPP Fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (1999)


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

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