The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

High Willhays



It would appear there was a lot more going on upon the summit plateau of High Willhays during prehistoric times than is readily apparent to today's casual visitor.... assuming any visit to south-western England's highest point can be termed 'casual', that is.

In addition to the 'tor cairn' at SX58028944, an arc of conspicuous orthostats due east of the summit tor at SX58038922 caught the eye of this traveller. The summit crags themselves are crowned by an an almost impossibly tidy walker's cairn, a stone pile balanced upon the naked rock in a such a seemingly precarious fashion that a gust of wind might well send it crashing to the coarse grass below. So why the existance of several relatively substantial upright stones clearly standing vertical - well, more or less - as a result of human agency? My immediate theory was the arc may once have formed a section of kerb retaining a cairn of which the summit remnants are all that remain.

Funnily enough at least one earlier, not to mention more experienced traveller, came to a not too dissimilar conclusion. To quote Pastscape:

"A semi-circle of leaning orthostats adjacent to the E side of one of the outcrops forming High Willhays. The stones remain a maximum of 0.75m high and describe an arc some 9m in length. Small boulders and slabs are interspersed with the orthostats suggestive of a ring cairn, in this case attached to the tor. The outer ring... is visible as a slight scarp a maximum of 0.2m high curving around the NE quadrant of the inner ring. It may represent a second element to the cairn or, more likely, be the result of stone removal in the more recent past. The outcrop to which this cairn is attached is crowned by a recent walkers' cairn which presumably contains material derived from this feature. [Probert SAJ 15/9/2003, EH Field Investigation]"
3rd May 2014ce
Edited 3rd May 2014ce

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