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HER Number:MDV6613
Name:Thornworthy Cairn and Cist, Fernworthy

Summary

A cairn on the north side of Fernworthy reservoir which was excavated in 1879. A central cist was found with a second, smaller cist to the south-east. Unfortunately the second cist was rifled before it could be fully excavated. The sum total of the finds was a sherd from an urn and pieces of flint. The mound today has a hollowed centre giving it the appearance of a ring cairn. In the centre of the mound is a cist comprising a rectangular stone box with a cover stone which is propped open. The second cairn was removed after the excavation and re-erected at Torquay Museum. It is now at the High Moorland Visitor Centre at Princetown.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 667 843
Map Sheet:SX68SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChagford
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCHAGFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68SE/48
  • Old SAM Ref: 28753

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CAIRN (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC)
  • CIST (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 13/04/1947, RAF/CPE/UK/1995, 2361-2 (Aerial Photograph). SDV224714.


Pengelley, W., 1880, Recent Discoveries in the Parishes of Chagford and Manaton, Devonshire, 365-371 (Article in Serial). SDV356960.


Burnard, R., 1890, Notes on Dartmoor Kistvaens, 202 (Article in Serial). SDV265355.


Burnard, R., 1897, Sixteenth Report of the Barrow Committee, 68 (Article in Serial). SDV356961.


Worth, R. H., 1902, Twenty-First Report of the Barrow Committee, 113, 116, 128, 129, 140 (Article in Serial). SDV20971.


Worth, R. H., 1930-1931, Kistvaens at Thornworthy, 49-50, plates (Article in Serial). SDV356962.

Summary of excavation given with measurements and details of finds.


Worth, R. H., 1937, 56th Report of the Barrow Committee, 80 (Article in Serial). SDV20973.

Barrow opened in 1878. Two kists found. Nothing apart from a flint implement was recovered in the first. The second was left open for a time and its contents scattered by a treasure seeker. An urn and flint chips were found. The smaller kist was removed and re-erected in Torquay Museum.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1952, SX68SE48 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV257012.

site visit 13th September 1952. The stones are intact with head stone tilted to one side and the whole is surrounded by an old bank.


Clarke, D. L., 1970, Beaker Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland, 479, 157f (Monograph). SDV278573.


Grinsell, L. V., 1978, Dartmoor Barrows, 134 (Article in Serial). SDV273224.

Site visit 15th April 1978. Gorse covered cairn which originally covered two cists. Diameter 11.8 metres, height 0.6 metres. Located in a valley.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Visible and recorded.


Grinsell, L. V., 1985-1986, A Beaker from a Cairn at Thornworthy, Chagford, 180-1 (Article in Serial). SDV356963.

Beaker sherds (circa 2500-2000BC) described and illustrated. Held by the Museum of the Torquay Natural History Society.


Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume One - The East, 169 (Monograph). SDV299725.


Gerrard, S., 1992-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., 152188 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

Site visit 14th June 1999. Cairn and cist 290 metres west of Fernworthy Dam. Diameter 12.8 metres, height 0.8 metres. Cist 1.02 metres by 0.52 metres by 0.73 metres deep. Oriented north-west to south-east. Coverstone stone lies on ne side of the cist and is propped up on two smaller stones and is 0.13 metres thick by 1.6 metres long. This is a very fine cist and its evaluation score of 10 seems incredible. Much of the site is covered in dense gorse up to 0.7 metres high.


English Heritage, 2014, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV355683.

Cairn and cist on the northern side of Fernworthy Reservoir, 660 metres north-west of Metherall.
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.
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.


Newman , P., Dec 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Supplement. The Lakeside Area and Lowton Farmsteads, 4-5, 28, Fig. 3-4 (Report - Survey). SDV356884.

Bronze Age burial located on the north side of Fernworthy reservoir. It was opened by Slade in 1879 who was later joined by Pengelly who published a detailed account of the excavations in 1880. Although the site now has the appearance of a ring cairn, Slade and Pengelly reported it as a single mound of earth and stones about 30 feet (9.1 metres) diameter and 4 to 5 feet (1.2 - 1.5 metres) high. The hollowed centre in the mound today is clearly a result of their diggings. Their excavation initially focused on a central stone cist. A second smaller cist which they encountered within the cairn was unfortunately rifled before Slade and Pengelly could excavate it themselves. The sum total of the finds from both burials was an urn sherd and various pieces of flint. The stones of the smaller cist were removed and re-erected at Torquay Museum but in 2004 it was moved to the High Moorland Visitor Centre at Princetown. The surviving cist was surveyed by Worth in 1936.
The current form of the cairn is a ring, representing the hollowed remains of the cairn. It is unclear what happened to the material, but the mound diameter is now larger than reported by Slade and Pengelly, between 11.3 and 13.5 metres, and it would appear, therefore, that the material was just thrown out towards the periphery of the mound; there is no spoil heap. The remaining cist is located centrally within the disturbed mound and comprises a stone box made from 4 partially buried edge-set granite slabes forming an approximate rectangle. The two shorter end slabs bridge the space between the longer sides. The interior dimensions are 0.98 by 0.52 by 0.63 metres. The cover stone remains, propped by two small stones resting on the slab on the north side allowing the interior of the cist to be exposed. The second smaller cist was to the south-east but no trace of it is visible today. A large, partially buried slab lies in its position but whether or not it was associated with the cist is not known.
The cairn and cist are an interesting and impressive feature very close to a track but almost invisible to the casual passer-by until the vegetation was removed in November 2013. Vegetation levels need to be maintained therefore in order for the site to remain visible. It is also suggested that the site be included in any future interpretation schemes.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1902. Twenty-First Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 34. A5 Hardback. 113, 116, 128, 129, 140.
  • Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1937. 56th Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 69. A4 Unbound. 80.
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1952. SX68SE48. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
  • Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1978. Dartmoor Barrows. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 36. A5 Paperback. 134.
  • Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 13/04/1947. RAF/CPE/UK/1995. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2361-2.
  • Article in Serial: Burnard, R.. 1890. Notes on Dartmoor Kistvaens. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 22. A5 Hardback. 202.
  • Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1992-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. 152188.
  • Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume One - The East. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume One - The East. One. Paperback Volume. 169.
  • Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
  • Monograph: Clarke, D. L.. 1970. Beaker Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland. Beaker Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland. Unknown. 479, 157f.
  • Article in Serial: Pengelley, W.. 1880. Recent Discoveries in the Parishes of Chagford and Manaton, Devonshire. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 12. Digital. 365-371.
  • Article in Serial: Burnard, R.. 1897. Sixteenth Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 29. Digital. 68.
  • Report - Survey: Newman , P.. Dec 2013. The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Supplement. The Lakeside Area and Lowton Farmsteads. Newman, P.. A4 Comb Bound. 4-5, 28, Fig. 3-4.
  • National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2014. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
  • Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1930-1931. Kistvaens at Thornworthy. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. Unknown. 49-50, plates.
  • Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1985-1986. A Beaker from a Cairn at Thornworthy, Chagford. Transactions of the Torquay Natural History Society. 19.4. Unknown. 180-1.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds

  • FDV5897 - FLAKE (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC?)
  • FDV5896 - SHERD (Bronze Age - 2200 BC to 701 BC?)

Associated Events

  • EDV6533 - Archaeological Survey of South-West Lakeside Trust Land around Fernworthy Reservoir

Date Last Edited:Oct 19 2015 4:24PM