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HER Number:MDV4147
Name:Large tor cairn on White Tor, Peter Tavy


Large cairn on the south-western edge of the White Tor Camp. Excavated by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee in 1898, a large quantity of stone was removed but few finds made.


Grid Reference:SX 542 786
Map Sheet:SX57NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishPeter Tavy
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishPETER TAVY

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX57NW5
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 439735
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX57NW/36
  • Old SAM County Ref: 363

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • TOR CAIRN (Constructed, Early Neolithic to Post Medieval - 4000 BC (Between) to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Baring Gould, S., 1899, Sixth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, 150 (Article in Serial). SDV344950.

Cairn in White Tor Camp. Large cairn in south-west portion of the camp. Many hundreds of cartloads of stones are here lying piled up like a cairn against one of the rock outcrops on the summit. The stones are all of handy size, none of them are built in, but thrown together pell-mell. On the top of the cairn are two cavities, which seem to have been made by previous explorers.
All the stones were removed from the cairn following the contour of rock to a distance of 7.32 metres, with a width of 3.05 metres and a depth of 2.75 metres. The surface of the ground thus exposed, was dug into until the cairn was reached and the only reward obtained after this heavy work consisted of a couple of small flint flakes. No charcoal was seen and nothing to indicate the use of this great heap of stones. It does not seem to be sepulchral nor could it have been used as a beacon, for in the former, some trace of interment would have been disclosed, and in the latter charcoal and signs of fire. May have been a look- out place or stones for ammunition only a large cairn here now, with hollow in centre.

Baring Gould, S., 1900, A Book of Dartmoor, 99 (Monograph). SDV277387.

The largest and most notable pile of small stones is at the south-west and consists of a core of rock about which an Immense accumulation of stones has been heaped. One flint flake was found beneath it but no interment was found and it showed no tokens of structural erection.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1950, SX57NW5 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV228582.

Visited 05/02/1950 Large cairn (only one here). Approximate diameter 17.6 metres, height 2.0 metres. Hollow in centre correct as shown on Ordnance Survey 6 inch mapping.

National Monument Record, 1977, SX5478, 2/232-3 (Aerial Photograph). SDV228382.

Grinsell, L. V., 1978, Dartmoor Barrows, 160, Visited 8/5/1974 (Article in Serial). SDV273224.

Cairn with hollow towards centre rounds part of tor and is in line with rampart of hill-fort. Centre of cairn excavated by baring-Gould who found two flint flakes only.

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

Visible on aerial photographs (1977) and recorded on map overlay.

Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 90-92, Map 31, Figure 31.7 (Monograph). SDV219155.

The enormous cairn of stones piled up around the rocks at '9' was excavated in the late 19th century when nothing was found to indicate its purpose. The base course of a rock shelter is built on to its east side.

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

Cairn is visible on the aerial photography.

Newman, P., 2018, Archaeological Sites within Merrivale Training Area, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: A condition survey on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation, 11/01/2018 (Report - Survey). SDV361635.

A large stony mound, probable cairn, built into an outcrop within the Whittor enclosure.

National Monument Record, 2018, Pastscape, 1978 data (Website). SDV360651.

At SX 54257860 there is a large cairn on the southern edge of the White Tor (Whittor) plateau at 460 metres O.D. The northern half is on level ground while the southern half is on a steep south slope, encompassing a massive 4.0 metre high block of outcrop rock. Overall diameter 22 metres, 2.5 metres high on north side and on south side stones are piled around the rock to a height of 1.5 metres to 3.0 metres. There is a large depression 7.0 metres diameter, 1.5 metres deep in the top of cairn on the north side of the outcrop - possibly the result of the 1898 excavation of an original 'ring' construction. From its situation it conforms to the 'tor' type cairn. Surveyed at 1:10 000 on P.F.D. and at 1:1000 (See 57 NW 84) (citing Quinnell, N. V., 1/10/1978, Ordnance Survey Field Investigators Comments).

Ordnance Survey, 2022, Mastermap 2022 (Cartographic). SDV364674.

Feature shown on modern mapping.

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. 90-92, Map 31, Figure 31.7.
SDV228382Aerial Photograph: National Monument Record. 1977. SX5478. National Monument Record Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 2/232-3.
SDV228582Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1950. SX57NW5. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV273224Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1978. Dartmoor Barrows. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 36. A5 Paperback. 160, Visited 8/5/1974.
SDV277387Monograph: Baring Gould, S.. 1900. A Book of Dartmoor. A Book of Dartmoor. Unknown. 99.
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.
SDV344950Article in Serial: Baring Gould, S.. 1899. Sixth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 31. Digital. 150.
SDV360651Website: National Monument Record. 2018. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. 1978 data.
SDV361462Aerial Photograph: Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. 2015-2017. 2015-2017 Aerial Photographs. Bluesky International Ltd/Getmapping PLC. Photograph (Digital). [Mapped feature: #113242 ]
SDV361635Report - Survey: Newman, P.. 2018. Archaeological Sites within Merrivale Training Area, Dartmoor National Park, Devon: A condition survey on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation. South-west Landscape Investigations. A4 Comb Bound. 11/01/2018.
SDV364674Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2022. Mastermap 2022. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV56589Related to: Features in and around the enclosure on White Tor, Peter Tavy (Monument)
MDV4101Related to: White Tor Camp, Peter Tavy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8419 - Excavation of cairn at White Tor Camp

Date Last Edited:Dec 10 2022 10:47AM