Chambered cairn 830m south of Buttern


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021216

Date first listed: 22-Dec-2003


Ordnance survey map of Chambered cairn 830m south of Buttern
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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: Gidleigh

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 65673 88557


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, land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains, gives significant insights into changes in the pattern of land-use through time. Long cairns were constructed as elongated rubble mounds and acted as funerary monuments during the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (c.3400-2400 BC). They represent the burial places of Britain's early farming communities and, as such, are amongst the oldest field monuments surviving visibly in the present landscape. Where investigated, long cairns appear to have been used for communal burial, often with only partial human remains selected for interment. Long cairns sometimes display evidence of internal structural arrangements, including stone-lined compartments and tomb chambers constructed from massive slabs. Some examples also show edge-set kerb stones bounding parts of the cairn perimeter. Certain sites provide evidence for several phases of funerary activity preceding construction of the cairn, and consequently it is probable that long cairns acted as important ritual sites for local communities over a considerable period of time. Some 500 examples of long cairns and long barrows, their counterparts in central and eastern England, are recorded nationally, of which sixteen are known from Dartmoor. As one of the few types of Neolithic structure to survive as a visible monument and due to their comparative rarity, their considerable age and their longevity as a monument type, all positively identified long cairns are considered to be nationally important.

Despite partial robbing, the chambered cairn 830m south of Buttern survives well and contains important archaeological and environmental information relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was built. Chambered cairns are rare on Dartmoor and this one represents part of a unique cluster of at least three examples.


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


The monument includes a chambered cairn situated on an east facing slope of Buttern Hill overlooking the valley of the River Teign. The cairn survives as a 10m long by 6.5m wide mound standing up to 0.6m high. The chamber and associated entrance passage includes seven orthostats standing up to 0.5m high, two of which form a north east facing portaled entrance. Adjacent to the western side of the cairn is a leat bank which measures 3m wide by 0.8m high and the leat itself which is 2.4m wide by 0.6m deep.

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: 34480

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Turner, J R, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeology Society' in Chamber Cairns, Gidleigh, , Vol. 38, (1980), 117-119
MPP fieldwork by S. Gerrard, Gerrard, S., (2002)

End of official listing