Cairn and cist on the northern side of Fernworthy Reservoir, 660m north west of Metherall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020058

Date first listed: 09-Feb-2001


Ordnance survey map of Cairn and cist on the northern side of Fernworthy Reservoir, 660m north west of Metherall
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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: Chagford

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 66742 84335


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

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 cairn and cist on the north side of Fernworthy Reservoir, 660m north west of Metherall survive well and are known from partial excavation to contain important archaeological, structural and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was built. The cist in particular represents a fine example of its type.


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


The monument includes a cairn containing a cist situated on a gentle south facing slope overlooking Fernworthy Reservoir. The cairn survives as a circular bank up to 2.75m wide and 0.8m high, with overall dimensions of 12.8m in diameter. A second raised area within this bank lies adjacent to a cist which measures 1.02m long by 0.52m wide internally and is 0.73m deep. The cist is orientated north west to south east and is partially obscured by the original coverstone which was displaced in 1878 when the cairn was excavated. These excavations revealed that the cairn had not been previously disturbed and within the mound two cists were found. A flint knife and scraper were recovered from the central cist. The second cist lay to the south east of the first but was ransacked before its excavation could be completed. This cist was removed to Torquay Museum, where it was reassembled and still remains on view.

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: 28753

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Butler, J, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities, (1991), 169

End of official listing