By: Blonde One
In recent posts the Two Blondes have made several references to cairns and I began to wonder about their history and thought I would do some research. The main reason for the Two Blondes relationship with cairns recently is as a navigation feature – especially at night. They’re a really handy feature to aim for when practicing map and compass skills and we have become quite slick at finding them. Apparently lots of cairns are modern ones that have been built purely for this reason: to aid navigation. I’m a bit protective about Dartmoor and I don’t like to think that people have built cairns in recent times. I prefer to imagine that they are all Bronze Age or older and used to contain may wonderful treasures, human and non-human (which unfortunately have now been pilfered). Beneath ancient cairns there will usually be a kist (like a stone grave). Often kists are exposed on Dartmoor and they are quite striking to look at. The Two Blondes have often marvelled at how a body would fit into such a small hole in the ground and I have discovered that in fact the bodies would have been cremated. It’s a sad thing that cairns have been damaged or raided but I was pleased to find out that it is actually an offence to destroy/damage them as they are classed as a ‘monument’.
So watch out, if you are one of the naughty cairn robbers: I will be researching my powers of citizen’s arrest!