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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 12:20 GMT
Burial chamber moves back to moor
Tomb rocks
Five rocks make the complete chamber
Remains of an ancient burial tomb, which have been in a museum for more than 120 years, are being moved back to the Devon moor where they were found.

The five stones, which form the Bronze-Age chamber, were discovered near Thornworthy Tor on Dartmoor in 1879.

The 4,000-year-old stones were then taken to Torquay Museum by geologist and anthropologist William Pengelly.

After the move, the grave, or cist, will be displayed by the Dartmoor National Park Authority in Princetown.

They're quite fragile things. One drop and we will damage them
Barry Chandler, Torquay Museum
Four of the stones form the chamber, with the last one acting as a capstone.

Such chambers were usually sunk into the ground and covered with earth or stones, forming a mound.

The chamber was one of two which were discovered during the excavation of a prehistoric burial mound near Thornworthy.

The first cist discovered was excavated by Samuel Slade of Torquay, who decided to seek the help of Pengelly, the Torquay geologist, in excavating the second cist at the site.

Now the stones are being moved back to the moor because the museum no longer has the facilities to display them.

Torquay Museum Assistant Curator Barry Chandler said: "In 2001, we had a major refurbishment and the space where they were displayed was altered.

"Since then, we've been unable to display them because of their sheer size. We don't have a floor with suitable loading for them."

"So we've been looking for a suitable place to display them and Dartmoor National Park said it was interested in putting them back into the park."

The largest stone weighs about quarter of a ton and moving them is causing some concerns.

Mr Chandler said: "They're quite fragile things. One drop and we will damage them. It will be a tricky job.

"Pengelly must have got them on to a horse-and-cart using sheer manpower.

"It was quite an undertaking and it will be interesting to see what Pengelly's job was."

Dartmoor National Park Authority archaeologist Jane Marchand said: "They are significant because they are part of Dartmoor's history.

"But, hopefully, they are just going to slot back into place."

Burial chamber goes on sale
22 Sep 03  |  Cornwall

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