Two bowl barrows at St Keverne Beacon.
Reasons for Designation
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a diversity of burial practices. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations 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. Despite re-use as a beacon, damage during the Second World War and dense scrub growth, the two bowl barrows at St Keverne Beacon survive comparatively well and are known to have internal features. They will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, relative chronology, re-use, longevity, social organisation, territorial significance, funerary and ritual practices and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 2 December 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument, which falls into two areas, includes two bowl barrows situated at the summit of a prominent ridge with extensive coastal views to the east and across to Goonhilly Downs to the west. The northern barrow is known as ‘St Keverne Beacon’ and survives as a circular stony mound measuring 12m in diameter and 1.6m high. It is thought to have been re-used as a beacon site and is known to have been damaged during the Second World War. The southern barrow survives as a circular mound with a diameter of 16m and is up to 1.3m high. There are several visible stones forming an outer kerb. Both barrows contain stone lined chambers or cists, with the cover stone still visible on the southern barrow. The surrounding quarry ditches from which material to construct the mounds was derived are preserved as buried features.
Other archaeological features in the immediate vicinity are the subject of separate schedulings.