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HER Number:MDV134402
Name:Prehistoric feature on Cut Hill


Potential early Bronze Age cist feature noted on Cut Hill in 2021. Charcoal from the site have been radiocarbon dated and the samples were dated to 1881 - 1698 cal BC (3831 - 3648 cal BP). Subsequent pollen analysis has confirmed likely prehistoric origins for this feature, which is not of natural origin, as well as noting the construction of the feature took place at a time when the local area was characterised as open heath-type vegetation.


Grid Reference:SX 598 827
Map Sheet:SX58SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CIST? (Constructed, Early Bronze Age - 1880 BC (Between) to 1700 BC (Between)) + Sci.Date

Full description

Rowney, F. M. + Fyfe, R., 2023, Cut Hill, Dartmoor: High resolution pollen analysis (Late Neolithic / Bronze Age), 1-8, figs and plates (Report - Scientific). SDV365703.

In 2021 Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) was informed of a feature composed of granite slabs in an eroding peat face on the summit of Cut Hill, north-west Dartmoor (SX 59818 82703). Subsequent investigation of the site confirmed the feature appeared to have a box-like form with a significant void and lies in close proximity with a stone row and barrow (MDV69603 and MDV69604), indicating a potential identification as a prehistoric cist grave. Charcoal samples from the interior of the structure were radiocarbon dated to 1881 - 1698 cal BC (3831 - 3648 cal BP).
The possible association of the feature to the stone row (as a previously undiscovered element of the row) due to its location on the same alignment noted. Potential similarity with the Whitehorse Hill cist site (MDV66367) is also considered. The first stage of measures to investigate the structure was palaeoecological (palynological) investigation to develop understanding of the environmental context of Cut Hill during the period in which the “cist” was likely constructed (according to preliminary dating): c. 2nd millennium BC, and to obtain a minimum age for the structure by dating peat that had developed over the “cist”. Material for palaeoecological (palynological) analyses was sub-sampled from a peat monolith sequence (1.9 m) extracted from Cut Hill in 2005.
The pollen analysis and new radiocarbon dates f rom peat immediately above the feature confirmed the structure is most likely of prehistoric origin, given the accumulation of peat by the end of the late Bronze Age, and this supports the interpretation of the stones as a cist. Furthermore, this feature was likely constructed in an open heath-type area, set within a broader landscape of deciduous woodland, periodically affected by different disturbance processes (herbivory, burning) over time. The analysis also notes that during the Late Neolithic period (between the 28th-26th centuries BC), there was a short-lived, temporary phase of notably enhanced openness around Cut Hill which was closely associated with increased local herbivory (probably livestock). No evidence was found for local continuity of land use between the late Neolithic episode and the proposed construction of the “cist” on Cut Hill.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV365703Report - Scientific: Rowney, F. M. + Fyfe, R.. 2023. Cut Hill, Dartmoor: High resolution pollen analysis (Late Neolithic / Bronze Age). University of Plymouth. Digital. 1-8, figs and plates. [Mapped feature: #141450 ]

Associated Monuments

MDV69603Related to: Barrow on Cut Hill, Dartmoor (Monument)
MDV69604Related to: Cut Hill Stone Row, Lydford (Monument)
MDV66367Related to: Whitehorse Hill Cist (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8963 - Palaeoenvironmental investigation of samples from Cut Hill

Date Last Edited:Oct 16 2023 11:27AM