Burial chamber on St Breock Downs
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1004475
Date first listed: 23-Apr-1958
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
Parish: St. Wenn
National Grid Reference: SW 96784 68233
Portal dolmen at St Breock Beacon.
Reasons for Designation
Portal dolmens are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early and Middle Neolithic period, the dated examples showing construction in the period 3500- 2600 BC. As burial monuments of Britain's early farming communities, they are among the oldest visible field monuments to survive in the present landscape. Where sufficiently well-preserved, they comprise a small closed rectangular chamber built from large stone slabs, with free-standing stones flanking the frontal slab of the chamber. A capstone, often massive, covers the chamber, and some examples show traces of a low cairn or platform around the chamber. Some sites have traces of a kerb around the cairn and certain sites show a forecourt area, edged by a facade of upright stones in a few examples. Little is yet known about the form of the primary burial rites. At the few excavated sites, pits and postholes have been recorded within and in front of the chamber, containing charcoal and cremated bone; some chamber contents of soil and stones may be original blocking deposits. Many portal dolmens were re-used for urned cremations, especially during the Middle Bronze Age. Only about 20 portal dolmens are known nationally, concentrated in west Penwith, Cornwall, and in the north-west Oxfordshire Cotswolds, with a scatter between these. Despite considerable scrub growth, the portal dolmen at St Breock Beacon survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, 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 includes a portal dolmen situated at the summit of a very prominent ridge known as St Breock Downs. The portal dolmen survives as a chamber formed by two large partially earthfast stones one measuring 2.3m long by 0.7m high which supports a second measuring 2.2m long by 1.3m wide thought to be a capstone, with some traces of drystone walling in the hollow between them.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: CO 336
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-430341
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing