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HER Number:MDV5299
Name:Clearance cairns on Skerraton Down, Dean Prior


A series of mounds which may be the result of modern field clearance, or they possibly be the remains of prehistoric cairns. Four of the larger mounds may have entrances and average 8.7 metres in diameter and 0.6 metres in height.


Grid Reference:SX 698 656
Map Sheet:SX66NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDean Prior
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishDEAN PRIOR

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX66NE76
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 441558
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX66NE/81

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CLEARANCE CAIRN (Constructed, Early Bronze Age to Post Medieval - 2200 BC? (Between) to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Royal Air Force, 1946, RAF/CPE/UK/1890, 4268-9 (Aerial Photograph). SDV169268.

Robinson, R., 1976, Dean Prior Barrows (Worksheet). SDV346527.

Site visited on 9th October 1976. SX 697656 Circular mound 12.0m in diameter, consisting of small stones, much robbed, 1.0m high 45.0m from field boundary.
SX 698655 Irregular mounds of small stones about 12.0m in diameter.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1979, SX66NE76 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV147436.

(11/07/1979) The north and east slopes of the enclosed part of Skerraton Down are moderately steep with some slight natural terraces.
The 1946 air photograph shows that the fields had reverted to bracken and moorland; this was recently cleared and put under pasture. As a result clearance stone was piled into heaps in an area of 5.0ha centred at SX 69856565. Over a dozen are from 2.0m to 4.0m across and from 0.2m to 0.5m high, seven are from 8.0m to 14.0m in diameter and from 0.5m to 0.8m high, the remainder fall between these extremes.
All the mounds show evidence of modern dumping and eleven appear to be nothing more. In other cases however the dumping appears to be upon small pre-existing cairns, though these are sometimes no more than 0.2m high. They could be of prehistoric origin, either clearance (uncommon in the area) or sepulchral, or clearance associated with the 18th/19th century enclosing.
A late date cannot be applied to the larger mounds where close inspection shows several to have rims of close packed earth and stone, 1.5m to 2.5m wide and from 0.4m to 0.4m high, i.e. the interiors are dished beneath the dumping. The impression is that of Type 1 huts (Type Site SX 56 NE 19) with rubble walling.
Four, A, B, C, & D have traces of entrances (now infilled) and are as follows:
A. SX 69756558 (Cf S & M Register) On a slight north slope; the overall diameter is 14.3m and height 0.8m. There is a rim 4.0m to 5.5m wide and 0.3m high with a 1.5m gap on the north side.
The interior approximately 4.5m across, is, like the gap, infilled with modern rubble.
B. SX 69886573 Diameter 9.7m, height 0.5m, with traces of a rim 2.3m wide and about 0.3m high. Heaped with recent clearance there seems to be an entrance gap in the east side, but the impression is that of a hut.
C. SX 69906563 A grass covered mound 7.7m overall diameter and 0.5m high with a slight central depression 4.8m across and a possible entrance gap in the south.
D. SX 69976569 On a level shelf, this seems to be a hut with an internal diameter of 3.0m and rubble walling 1.6m wide and 0.4m high. There is a 1.0m gap in the north east The whole is piled with fresh stone.
There are other indeterminate features but the area was probably an open settlement and field system (two 10.0m lengths of bank still survive, E & F) which has gradually been cleared and obscured.
Surveyed at 1:2500 on MSD.

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

Not visible on aerial photographs.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV147436Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1979. SX66NE76. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index. [Mapped feature: #134879 ]
SDV169268Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946. RAF/CPE/UK/1890. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4268-9.
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.
SDV346527Worksheet: Robinson, R.. 1976. Dean Prior Barrows. Worksheet. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV5298Related to: Cairn or hut circle south of Lamb's Down (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 4 2022 11:57AM