Butterdon Hill

Sinuous stone alignment comprising different sized stones leads past a cairn on the horizon. View from north (Scale 1m).

A single stone row measuring 1,973m long, including at least 557 different sized stones situated mainly on a long ridge. The row is orientated north to south and leads from a kerbed cairn at the lower southern end to a pillar at the north. There are several landscape and sea view reveals. One stone has a small cross carved on it, perhaps an attempt to Christianise the row. The row stands in the vicinity of seven stone rows, large numbers of cairns and some prehistoric round houses.


England Devon Dartmoor SX 65629 58814 Lat 50.413786   Long -3.89257

Map showing the location of Butterdon Hill stone row.

Simplified map showing the Butterdon Hill stone alignment and adjacent cairns. Other stone alignments in the vicinity are not depicted (Source: Google Earth and Butler, J., 1993).


Type: Single Length: 1973m
No. of stones: 557 Size of stones: Small, medium and large
Orientation: 175° Altitude: 380m
Upper end: Pillar Lower end: Cairn
Straight (Yes or No)  : No Sea View: Yes
Context: Cairns and stone alignments

Other Information

Public Access:  Yes
Land Status: National Park
Scheduled Ancient Monument: Yes


Category: Plausible. No doubts have been expressed regarding the prehistoric interpretation of this row.


This stone row is of Type S12. Information on this form of stone row and other rows of this type is available here.


The row deflects past the cairn at SX 65653 59411. This relationship would appear to suggest that the cairn was built before the row. View from the north.

Hobajons Cross at SX 65511 60473 may represent Christianisation of the row. A similar cross exists on the standing stone between the stone alignments at Learable Hill in Caithness and on a stone forming part of a row at North Ings 0n the Yorkshire Moors. View from west (Scale 1m).

A number of the larger stones in the row have been split by drill marks. This method of splitting stones was not introduced until the early part of the 19th century and indicates that at least some of the stones in the row were “recently” erected as parish boundary markers. View from west (Scale 1m).

Along this length (c. SX 65511 60473) all the stones are recumbent (Scale 1m).

In places the row consists of closely spaced small stones (Scale 1m).

In places the alignment is formed by closely spaced small stones.  This characteristic is shared with the row at Bancbryn. View from west (scale 1m).

Elsewhere there seems to be bigger gaps between the small stones. View from south (Scale 1m).

Kerbed cairn at the southern end of the row. This would have originally been a rather impressive structure as the kerb appears to have included substantial orthstats – all of which have since fallen or been pushed. View from south (Scale 1m).

The southern length of the row appears to have originally included large slabs which are now all recumbent. At this point the pair of cairns on the sky line become visually conjoined. As you walk up the row the cairn on the right disappears behind the one on the left. View from north (Scale 1m).

Much of the row includes small and medium sized stones. View from west (Scale 1m).

Much of the row includes small and medium sized stones. View from west (Scale 1m).

Detail of the row. These stones appear to be in situ (Scale 1m).

Along substantial lengths of the row the stones are now recumbent. The cairns on the sky line visually draw closer together as you walk up the row until finally they appear to touch and then the one of the right disappears behind the one on the left. This sort of visual “treat” may have been of significance to the row builders. It is reminiscent of an eclipse of the sun.

A well preserved length of the row. View from south west (Scale 1m).

Much of the row probably originally looked much like this. View from south east (Scale 1m).

From this point the cairns on the top of Butterdon Hill are hidden by rising ground. They reappear as you walk up the row. The visual links between this row and the landscape have not yet been examined in detail. View from north (Scale 1m).

In common with all long rows, this one is sinuous in character and has several shifts in orientation. View from north (Scale 1m).

Sharp changes in orientation. View from north (Scale 1m).

The row passing the cairn at  SX 65653 59411. View from the north (Scale 1m).

The Longstone standing stone at SX 65433 60745 probably represents the northern end of the row. From no point on the row is the rest of it visible, although the ends are inter-visible. This means that fresh lengths of the row are revealed whilst others disappear as you walk along it. View from north (Scale 1m). 

Access Information

Car parking is available at SX 64338 59550. Follow the bridleway heading east for 1.2km. The row crosses the bridleway.

Online Resources

Megalithic Portal     Modern Antiquarian     PastScape     Historic Environment Record

Prehistoric Monuments of Dartmoor     Prehistoric Dartmoor Walks

Other References

Burl, A., 1993, From Carnac to Callanish – The prehistoric rows and avenues of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press, New York and London, pg. 214.

Butler, J., 1993, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities – Vol. 4 – The South-East, Devon Books Exeter, pgs. 24-27.


VISITED:- 9th March 2013 and 4th May 2018

FIRST PUBLISHED:- 16th January 2016

LAST UPDATED:- 31st January 2018

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