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HER Number:MDV102543
Name:Probable clearance cairns, Tottiford Reservoir


Line of roughly circular dumps of stone fragments along the eastern side of the reservoir, some appearing to be associated with features in the prehistoric complex; these were initial thought to be cairns. Excavation revealed they are much more modern in date and may instead be clearance cairns related to agricultural activity or stone dumps associated with the late 19th century construction of the reservoir.


Grid Reference:SX 811 831
Map Sheet:SX88SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishChristow
Ecclesiastical ParishHENNOCK

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CLEARANCE CAIRN (XVII to XX - 1601 AD to 2000 AD)

Full description

Fyfe, R., 2010, Trial excavation and survey at Tottiford Reservoir, Dartmoor, pg 4-6 (Report - Geophysical Survey). SDV349875.

First discovered in 2009 when the reservoir was drained to just 6% capacity. Located in close proximity to the east-west linear feature and the southern double stone row. These possible cairns were plotted in the preliminary survey of the site by Dartmoor National Park Authority in late 2009. Geophysical survey of the potential terminal cairn at the eastern end of the east-west stone alignment provided little useful information but a sample of charred seeds from one of the excavated contexts returned a radiocarbon date of between 1682-1954.

Wessex Archaeology, 2011, Tottiford Reservoir. Dartmoor National Park, Devon. Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results, pg 21 (Report - Evaluation). SDV349885.

Excavation in Trenches 1 and 2 demonstrated that the apparent line of ‘cairns’ on the eastern shore of the reservoir were in fact of post-medieval origin. The apparent ‘terminal cairn’ was not related to the west-east linear feature and is stratigraphically much later. Excavation showed that the radiocarbon date of 1682-1954 AD obtained in 2009 (SDV349875) is likely to be correct. A local farmer recalls that ‘field stone’ was purchased from farmers when the reservoir was being constructed. These features could be dumps of unusable material. Alternatively they may be clearance cairns from post-medieval agricultural activity in the field to the east of the reservoir.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV349875Report - Geophysical Survey: Fyfe, R.. 2010. Trial excavation and survey at Tottiford Reservoir, Dartmoor. University of Plymouth Report. A4 Comb Bound. pg 4-6.
SDV349885Report - Evaluation: Wessex Archaeology. 2011. Tottiford Reservoir. Dartmoor National Park, Devon. Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results. Wessex Archaeology Report. 74159.1. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. pg 21. [Mapped features: #1436 ; #1437 ; #1438 ; #1439 ; #1440 ; #1441 ; #1442 ; #1443 ; #1444 ; #1445 ; #1446 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV102540Related to: Double stone row, Tottiford Reservoir (Monument)
MDV102544Related to: Flint scatter in prehistoric complex, Tottiford Reservoir (Monument)
MDV102542Related to: Linear stone feature, Tottiford Reservoir (Monument)
MDV102539Related to: Stone circle, Tottiford Reservoir (Monument)
MDV9380Related to: Tottiford Reservoir, Hennock (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5938 - Trial excavation and survey at Tottiford Reservoir
  • EDV5944 - Excavation at Tottiford Reservoir (Ref: 74159)

Date Last Edited:Jan 19 2018 1:17PM