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HER Number:MDV8309
Name:Giant's Grave cairn, Mardon Down

Summary

Known as Giant's Grave since 1803 Ordnance Survey map depiction. Comprises the remains of a badly-damaged cairn largely destroyed in the early 19th century possibly as a result of road building. Now a turf-covered mound 20 metres diameter and 0.6 metres high. This site is included in the local list of Nationally Important Dartmoor sites. Surveyed in 2017, establishing the original form of the monument was impossible because all that survives is a random collection of hillocks, representing the aftermath of either digging or robbing, but it was most likely to have been an upstanding mound, rather than a more elaborate form.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 767 874
Map Sheet:SX78NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishMoretonhampstead
DistrictTeignbridge
Ecclesiastical ParishMORETONHAMPSTEAD

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Earthworks of two, possibly three prehistoric cairns on Mardon Down, the largest of which is known as the Giant's Grave, part of a line of monuments along the ridge on Mardon Down

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: 445366
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX78NE/27
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CAIRN (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

Jones, J. P., 1823, Observations on the Scenery and Antiquities in the Neighbourhood of Moretonhampstead, 3 (Monograph). SDV344934.


Shortt, W. T. P., 1841, Collectanea Curiosa Antiqua Dumnonia, Exeter, 28 (Monograph). SDV310391.


Creker, J. G., 1859, Unknown Title, 25-6 (Monograph). SDV295063.


Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Giant's Grave (Site of)' marked.


Worth, R. N., 1882, 4th Report of the Barrow Committee, 153-4 (Article in Serial). SDV295057.

Worth comments on the remains of a cairn at Mardon which appears to be that designated as Giant's Grave on the Ordnance Survey map but which 'presents no appearance worthy of particular remark'. He then draws attention to Shortt's statement that granite from the cairn was removed to repair the roads and 'was nearly obliterated in consequence'. Rev. Ponsford also gives a similar account of the removal of material from some of the cairns on Mardon for road repair.


Rowe, S., 1896, A Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor, 130 (Monograph). SDV249697.

Giant's Grave. The remains of a cairn seriously robbed for road repairs.


Royal Air Force, 1947, RAF/CPE/UK/2082, 4462 (Aerial Photograph). SDV295065.


Ordnance Survey, 1963, Ordnance Survey 1963 6 inch map (Cartographic). SDV60736.

"Giant's Grave" shown on Ordnance Survey 6 inch 1963 map.


Grinsell, L. V., 1976, Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, 95 (Monograph). SDV304171.

Remains of an oval cairn with retaining kerb. The name dates from before 1823.


Grinsell, L. V., 1978, Dartmoor Barrows, 157 (Article in Serial). SDV273224.

Site visits 16th July 1972 and 16th April 1974. Moretonhampstead 3. Remains of cairn largely destroyed in the early 19th century. Diameter measures 20.5 metres, height 0.6 metres.


Pearce, S. M., 1979, The Distribution and Production of Bronze Age Metalwork, 144 (Article in Serial). SDV322230.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Remains of barrow visible and recorded.


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.


GeoInformation Group Ltd, 2010, 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution) (Aerial Photograph). SDV346026.

Vague area of cairn material visible on the aerial photograph, but extent / outer edge unclear.


Environment Agency, 2011, LIDAR data JPEG images (2 metre resolution) (Cartographic). SDV348634.

Cairn visible.


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.


Newman , P., 2017, A Stone Circle and Cairn Group on Mardon Down, Moretonhampstead, Devon, 10, Fig 6 (Report - Survey). SDV360188.

Cairn at SX 76759 87453 ‘Giants Grave’
The name Giant’s Grave appeared on the Ordnance Survey old series map of 1803, and it was marked on the 1884 1:25-inch county series at this location. It is the largest cairn in the group but also one of the most damaged. The spread of the cairn material is an approximate circle of 20 metres diameter, but the earthworks stand to a maximum height of 0.58 metres. Establishing the original form of the monument is impossible because all that survives is a random collection of hillocks, representing the aftermath of either digging or robbing, but it was most likely to have been an upstanding mound, rather than a more elaborate form. The remains are now completely turf covered, but two stones are visible and others certainly remain buried. It is not known if the cairn ever possessed a stone setting but, if so, it has been totally robbed. Several 19th-century writers claimed that the stone was ‘stripped of its granite’ to repair the roads (Rowe 1897, 131), though is not recorded whether this was an assumption by these writers, or if the event was witnessed by them.
A small cairn recorded 8 metres to the north (MDV20069), with a diameter of 5 metres, is likely to be the result of dumping when the main cairn was despoiled.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SX78NE6 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV295056.

Site visit 21st October 1953. A turf-covered mound, probably a cairn, with a large stone lying near the centre. Mound heavily mutilated and has large depression in the centre.
Site visit 4th January 1982. The name appears on Ordnance Survey 1 inch map of 1809. As described by Grinsell with traces of a possible inner kerb on the south-west.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV249697Monograph: Rowe, S.. 1896. A Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor. Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor. Unknown. 130.
SDV273224Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1978. Dartmoor Barrows. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 36. A5 Paperback. 157.
SDV295056Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SX78NE6. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV295057Article in Serial: Worth, R. N.. 1882. 4th Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 14. Digital. 153-4.
SDV295063Monograph: Creker, J. G.. 1859. Unknown Title. Unknown. 25-6.
SDV295065Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK/2082. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. Photograph (Paper). 4462.
SDV304171Monograph: Grinsell, L. V.. 1976. Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain. Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain. Unknown. 95.
SDV310391Monograph: Shortt, W. T. P.. 1841. Collectanea Curiosa Antiqua Dumnonia, Exeter. Collectanea Curiosa Antiqua Dumnonia, Exeter. Unknown. 28.
SDV319854Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
SDV322230Article in Serial: Pearce, S. M.. 1979. The Distribution and Production of Bronze Age Metalwork. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 37. 144.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV344934Monograph: Jones, J. P.. 1823. Observations on the Scenery and Antiquities in the Neighbourhood of Moretonhampstead. Observations on the Scenery and Antiquities in the Neighbourhood of Moreton. Unknown. 3.
SDV345444Un-published: Gerrard, S.. 2004. List of Sites Remaining to be Considered for Designation on Dartmoor. Digital.
SDV346026Aerial Photograph: GeoInformation Group Ltd. 2010. 1:625 2010 Colour (12.5cm resolution). 2010 Aerial Photographs. Digital.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #108353 ]
SDV348634Cartographic: Environment Agency. 2011. LIDAR data JPEG images (2 metre resolution). Digital.
SDV360188Report - Survey: Newman , P.. 2017. A Stone Circle and Cairn Group on Mardon Down, Moretonhampstead, Devon. Southwest Landscape Investigations. A4 Comb Bound + Digital. 10, Fig 6.
SDV60736Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1963. Ordnance Survey 1963 6 inch map. Ordnance Survey 6 inch map. Map (Paper).

Associated Monuments

MDV105916Part of: Cairn Cemetery on Mardon Down (Monument)
MDV8310Related to: Cairn 15 metre south of Giant's Grave, Mardon Down (Monument)
MDV20069Related to: Clearance cairn to north of Giant's Grave, Mardon Down (Monument)
MDV8290Related to: Finds from Cairn on Mardon Down, Moretonhampstead (Find Spot)
MDV119195Related to: Gun pit 60 metres north-east of Giant's Grave, Mardon Down (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7270 - Survey of cairn cemetery, stone circle and other earthworks on Mardon Down

Date Last Edited:May 23 2017 11:13AM