Cairn and cist on Chittaford Down, 300m north of Archerton


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021330

Date first listed: 01-Aug-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Jun-2004


Ordnance survey map of Cairn and cist on Chittaford Down, 300m north of Archerton
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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: Dartmoor Forest

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 63679 79456


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. Cists are small rectangular stone structures used for burial purposes and date to the Bronze Age. On Dartmoor they are made up of regular stone slabs forming a box-like structure sometimes topped by a larger coverstone. Short cists survive as free-standing monuments, with no enclosing stone and earth cairn. On Dartmoor cists are also associated with cairns, ring cairns and cairnfield groups, but these free-standing examples form a separate group in their own right. Their longevity, having been in use for a millennium or so, provides insight into the range of ceremonial and ritual practices of the contemporary farming communities. The Dartmoor examples provide one of the best preserved and most dense concentrations of this class of monument in south-western Britain and, as such, a high proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Despite partial excavation, the cairn and cist on Chittaford Down, 300m north of Archerton survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to this area during the prehistoric period. The presence of the cist and kerb confirms that structural information will survive. In broader terms the monument also provides a valuable insight into Bronze Age funerary and ritual activity as well as providing information concerning territorial control on the Moor.


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


The monument includes a cairn and cist situated on a north east facing slope on Chittaford Down overlooking the valley of the East Dart River. The cairn survives as an 8m diameter mound standing up to 0.6m. The periphery of the mound is denoted in places by edge set stones denoting the survival of a kerb. In the centre of the mound is a cist which survives as a rectangular pit denoted on three sides by edge set slabs. The cist is orientated north west-south east and measures 1.3m long, 0.5m wide and up to 0.65m deep. The cairn was partially excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee in 1900 and this work revealed a pit below the cist containing charcoal and a flint flake. More significantly, below one of the side stones of the cist an archer's stone wrist-guard was found.

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: 34489

Legacy System: RSM


NMR, English Heritage, NMR Monument Report SX 67 NW 3, (2003)

End of official listing