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HER Number:MDV12800
Name:Cairn on summit of Smeardon Down, Peter Tavy


A cairn prominently situated on the summit of Smeardon Down of 12 metres by 10.7 metres and 0.8 metres high within the prehistoric settlement and field system. A section of wall extends from the cairn for 42 metres to the west


Grid Reference:SX 522 781
Map Sheet:SX57NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishPeter Tavy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishPETER TAVY

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthworks of a prehistoric settlement on Smeardon Down comprising hut circles, enclosure and field system

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX57NW73
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 439928
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NW/91

Monument Type(s) and Dates

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

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1964, RAF/F63/58/6399, 044-45 (Aerial Photograph). SDV229824.

A sub-circular cropmark at SX 52287815.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1980, SX57NW73 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV278272.

(14/10/1980) At SX 52307813 on the summit of Smeardon Down there is a circular banked structure 8.0m. in internal diameter mutilated by surface quarrying. The bank is turf-covered stone and measures 1.2m. wide and 0.4m. high, with a number of small breaks and distortions due to stone robbing. Quarrying at the centre has resulted in a bowl shaped pit 0.4m. deep at the centre, with a pile of limestone slabs on one side.
The exposed situation might suggest a ruined cairn or simply a surface digging, but the fairly consistent nature of the surrounding bank, and the fact that the structure is the terminal point for a low and presumably prehistoric field bank, tends to favour its classification as a ruined hut of indeterminate Type.
Surveyed at 1:2500 on MSD. (See plan with 57 NW 72)

Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP (Cartographic). SDV319854.

Not visible.

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1987-1993, Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit (Report - Survey). SDV350839.

(18/04/1991) A cairn prominently situated on the summit of Smeardon Down at 334m OD. It measures 12m N-S by 10.7m and 0.8m in maximum height. Robbing, mainly to the north of the central area, has exposed the contents of small stones. Dumping of debris is evidenced by a drilled stone lying to the west; the robbed material appears to have been dumped mainly on the southwest but it is also scattered elsewhere around the cairn. A field wall, part of the surrounding Field System (SX 57 NW 103), approaches the cairn from the northwest but there is a slight hollow, probably caused by robbing, at the junction of these features so it is now impossible to ascertain the exact relationship between the two.
The field wall does not appear to continue to the east. Its internal appearance has the undoubted ragged look of a robbed mound, not a bank. It is not, as described, a "fairly consistent....bank" and there is no evidence of an inner face or a break for an entrance. This fact plus its prominent exposed position, all suggest that it is a robbed prehistoric cairn. (See 1:2500 Survey of Settlement and Field System SX 57 NW 103).

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 89,240, Map 31, Site 11 (Monograph). SDV219155.

Smeadon Down cairn at SX52287814 of circa 12.0 metres diameter by 0.3 metres high. An embanked pit on the summit of Smeardon Down connected to the nearest stack by a bank and ditch may be the remains of a second hut, or more likely a cairn which has been thoroughly dug into.

Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC, 2015-2017, 2015-2017 Aerial Photographs (Aerial Photograph). SDV361462.

Visible on aerial photograph.

National Mapping Programme, post-1985, Dartmoor NMP Transcription data (Cartographic). SDV364293.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV219155Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 89,240, Map 31, Site 11.
SDV229824Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1964. RAF/F63/58/6399. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Unknown. 044-45.
SDV278272Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1980. SX57NW73. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV319854Cartographic: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project (Dartmoor) - Dartmoor Pre-NMP. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV350839Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1987-1993. Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. Unknown.
SDV361462Aerial Photograph: Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. 2015-2017. 2015-2017 Aerial Photographs. Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. Photograph (Digital). [Mapped feature: #139622 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV56593Related to: Field system on Smeardon Down, Peter Tavy (Monument)
MDV56592Related to: Prehistoric settlement on Smeardon Down, Peter Tavy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8423 - Duchy Farms Project

Date Last Edited:Dec 8 2022 10:08AM