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HER Number:MDV18401
Name:Cluster of clearance cairns east of Royal Hill


A group of cairns east of Royal Hill, associated with a possible cairn and length of prehistoric wall. Some of this group are though to be clearance cairns, although they may have prehistoric origins. This site is on the local list of Nationally Important Dartmoor sites.


Grid Reference:SX 626 724
Map Sheet:SX67SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Group of clearance cairns, possibly prehistoric in origin, with a possible Bronze Age cist and prehistoric length of wall, east of Royal Hill

Other References/Statuses

  • Dartmoor Non-designated Heritage Asset (Historical): NI Site
  • National Monuments Record: SX67SW236
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 620266
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67SW/124

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CLEARANCE CAIRN (Constructed, Early Neolithic to Roman - 4000 BC (Between) to 409 AD (Between))

Full description

Greeves, T. A. P., 1982, Site visit to cairns on Royal Hill (Site Visit). SDV263708.

Centred at SX62657227. Group of prehistoric cairns in a row running approx south-west to north-east.
Cairn A. The most northerly is crest-sited as you approach uphill from the south, with concave centre. Approximately 4.0 metres in diameter, Maximum height of 0.4 metres with a 2.0 metre length of wall attached to the south-west.
Cairn B. The second cairn 33 metres to the south-west of A is 2.0 metres in diameter.
Cairn C. 46 metres south-west of B is positioned against a natural boulder and measures 4.0 metres maximum diameter.
Cairn D is located approximately 77 metres south-east of C. Oval, measuring 3.0 by 2.0 metres.
Cairn E is 18 metres south-east of Cairn D and is 2.5 metres in diameter.
Cairn F is 13 metres south-east of E and measures 3.0 metres in diameter.

Dartmoor National Park Authority, 1982, Tor Royal Farm (Plan - measured). SDV265836.

Area of decayed walls and loose cairn heaps of possible prehistoric date noticed in Tor Royal farm survey.

Griffith, F. M., 1987, Site visit to Royal Hill (Worksheet). SDV265936.

Visited sometime in June 1987? Extensive cairnfield of small stones piled on boulders. Extends along shoulder to west towards Royal Hill - full area not plotted.

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1987-1993, Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit, S. Probert & M. J. Fletcher (Report - Survey). SDV350839.

(21/03/1989) Centred SX 62597223. Eight scattered small turf-covered cairns lie on a SE hillslope at 360m OD on moorland pasture in an area cleared of surface stone except for large earthfast boulders. Mostly oval-shaped and rather ragged they are of compacted stones with some built against large earthfast boulders. There are no traces of formal construction.
The largest cairn, at SX 62607226, is 4.6m by 3.8m and 0.4m high with a disturbed centre and stone spill. The line of four cairns between SX 62597223 and SX 62587219 vary from 2.6m by 2.2m and 0.3m high to 3.5m in diameter and 0.5m high. The row of three cairns between
SX 62647221 and SX 62677222 are from 2.5m by 2.0m and 0.3m high to 3.5m by 2.5m and 0.45m high.
They are almost certainly clearance cairns possibly of prehistoric origin as suggested by Greeves (1982), or later; they do however predate the extensive, recent, clearance work on the same hillslope c.250m to the N and E (SX 67 SW 232).
The indicated SMR map reference for part of this site:-
(SMR Nos SX 67 SW 124) is erroneous. These three cairns are correctly depicted on the DNP 6" map (1982) centred at SX 62667226.

Gerrard, S., 2004, List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor (Un-published). SDV345444.

This site was considered for designation as a Scheduled Ancient Monument during the Monument Protection Programme. The programme ended before the entire list of sites was successfully scheduled so this is included on a local list of Nationally Important Sites.

Richards, A. F., 2013, Clarification of the cairn sites east of Royal Hill (Personal Comment). SDV350894.

This record was initially entered onto the HER incorrectly. Only part of Greeves' initial data was used and the grid reference was entered as SX62667266, placing the cairns 350 metres or so north of their actual location. This has been checked against the original source and repositioned. Greeves' source aligns with the 1989 Royal Commission data.
Sandy Gerrard's list does indicate a grid reference close to SX62667266 with reference to a cairn but it is thought that this may have been based erroneously on the HER data, as there is no other record of any cairns at this location.
MDV18402 has been deleted as this was based on Greeves' source but only accounted for three of the cairns. This record actually placed them at the correct location (SX 6275 7224) but duplicated information.
MDV18413 (SX 628 724) has been deleted as this is thought to be another duplicate based on the Tor Royal Farm survey and Griffith's site visit, inaccurately located from a six-figure grid reference.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV263708Site Visit: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1982. Site visit to cairns on Royal Hill. Worksheet. Digital.
SDV265836Plan - measured: Dartmoor National Park Authority. 1982. Tor Royal Farm. 6 inch. Unknown.
SDV265936Worksheet: Griffith, F. M.. 1987. Site visit to Royal Hill. Worksheet. Unknown.
SDV345444Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
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. S. Probert & M. J. Fletcher.
SDV350894Personal Comment: Richards, A. F.. 2013. Clarification of the cairn sites east of Royal Hill. Not Applicable.

Associated Monuments

MDV26100Related to: Leat east of Royal Hill (Monument)
MDV18403Related to: Possible cist and prehistoric wall on Royal Hill (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8628 - Tor Royal Farm Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV8409 - Dartmoor Royal Forest Project
  • EDV8423 - Duchy Farms Project

Date Last Edited:Jun 16 2022 2:42PM