Bronze Age Multiple Cairn Circle
East of Sheepstor, Dartmoor, Devon  OS Map Ref SX57486783
OS Maps - Landranger 202 (Torbay & South Dartmoor), Explorer OL28 (Dartmoor)

Yellowmead multiple cairn circle looking southwest
Overview of Yellowmead multiple cairn circle looking southwest through the gap in the outer ring..
Plan of YellowmeadYellowmead cairn circle is an unusual and strikingly beautiful collection of stones situated towards the western edge of a small plateau of land between Yellowmead Down and Ditsworthy Warren. What at first sight appears to be a random jumble of granite boulders, on closer inspection reveals itself to be circles within circles and traces of a stone row or avenue. The centre of the monument is a low cairn about 4 metres in diameter which is surrounded by the close-set kerb of mostly rectangular slabs of the inner circle (marked as 'A' on the plan opposite). This circle consists of 22 stones up to nearly a metre in height and measures 6.7 metres in diameter. The second ring ('B') is comprised of much smaller stones most being less than a quarter of a metre tall and this time 32 stones form a slight oval of between 11-12 metres. Author Aubrey Burl speculates that there may have originally been 42 stones in this setting. The third ring out from the centre ('C') is similarly made up of low stones although several towards the south are a little larger with 27 set into an oval of between 14-15 metres and again Burl suggests an original number of 42 stones. The fourth ring ('D') has a diameter of between 19-20 metres with 24 stones remaining but with an obvious gap towards the northeast where some have been removed to build a fieldwall, Burl's estimate is that about 37 stones once stood in this ring. Ring 'D' contains the largest stones at Yellowmead with those towards the southeast measuring over a metre in height. To the west of the four rings there are 7 or 8 further stones that form a rough arc and it could be that these are the remnants of a fifth circle that has now been all but destroyed. Leading up to the southwestern edge of Yellowmead is a small collection of low stones that appear to form part of a stone row or avenue (see picture at the bottom of this page) but the land to the west of here is enclosed pasture and it could be that most of the stones from this row have been cleared away or perhaps used for walling.
The reasons for the building of such a complex monument are rather unclear, it seems that the central cairn with its kerb of stones formed the first stage of the site which was perhaps covered in earth or rubble with further rings added at a later date to extend the monument, but why, and what part the avenue played, is a mystery.
The circles at Yellowmead were only discovered in 1921 by Mr. Richard Worth at which time only three stones were standing and what we see it today is thanks to the restoration work carried out shortly afterwards under the auspices of Rev. Breton (both men also worked on the stone circle at Brisworthy). More recent investigations in 2008 involved geophysical surveying of the site the results of which would seem to indicate that the pair of early 20th century antiquarians had fairly faithfully re-erected the circles to something approximating their original form.

Suggested Date: Bronze Age
Yellowmead - The centre circle
The central cairn circle of the site looking northwest towards the hill of Sheeps Tor.
Yellowmead Yellowmead
Views across the multiple arcs of the site.
Remains of a stone row leading to the circles
The small stone row to the southwest of Yellowmead circle.

360 Degree Panorama

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