Round cairn with beacon called Hensbarrow


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1004372

Date first listed: 05-Oct-1959

Location Description: Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Ordnance survey map of Round cairn with beacon called Hensbarrow
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location Description: Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Roche

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Treverbyn

National Grid Reference: SW9967857546

Reasons for Designation

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visual element in the modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period.

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the country. Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was in decay by the mid-17th century. Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon. Beacons were built throughout England, with the greatest density along the south coast and the border with Scotland. Although approximately 500 are recorded nationally, few survive in the form of visible remains. Many sites are only known from place-name evidence.

The round cairn with beacon called 'Hensbarrow' survives well, in a particularly prominent location, and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, territorial significance, social organisation, funerary and ritual practices, re-use as a beacon, parish boundary marker and overall landscape context.


The monument includes a round cairn, later re-used as a beacon, situated at the summit of an extremely prominent hill known as Hensbarrow Beacon. The cairn survives as a circular stony mound with a bell-shaped profile of up to 45m in diameter and 5.4m high.

Known locally as 'Hainsborough' or 'Hensborough' and documented in 1310 as 'Hynesbergh', it was described by Carew in the 16th - 17th centuries as the site of the 'arch-beacon' of Cornwall, commanding an extensive view. A triangulation pillar and parish boundary marker stone have been built into the summit.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-429975


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: CO 552

Legacy System: RSM - OCN

End of official listing