Chambered cairn 430m south of Buttern
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1021217
Date first listed: 22-Dec-2003
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Devon (District Authority)
National Park: DARTMOOR
National Grid Reference: SX 65866 88971
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 430m south of Buttern survives comparatively 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.
The monument comprises a chambered cairn situated on an east facing slope
of Buttern Hill overlooking the valley of the River Teign. The cairn
survives as a 26m long by 9m wide mound standing up to 1m high. Towards
the western end of the mound are several set stones representing the
remains of a passage leading towards a chamber. The largest stone forming
the structure stands up to 1.6m high and is leaning northward against
another upright stone.
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: 34481
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Turner, J R, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeology Society' in Chamber Cairns, Gidleigh, , Vol. 38, (1980), 117-119
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