Round cairn on Browngelly Downs, 940m ESE of Higher Gillhouse Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1007470

Date first listed: 08-Oct-1956

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Feb-1994


Ordnance survey map of Round cairn on Browngelly Downs, 940m ESE of Higher Gillhouse Farm
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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. Neot

National Grid Reference: SX 19646 72586


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

Reasons for Designation

Bodmin Moor, the largest of the Cornish granite uplands, has long been recognised to have exceptional preservation of archaeological remains. The Moor has been the subject of detailed archaeological survey and is one of the best recorded upland landscapes in England. The extensive relict landscapes of prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date provide direct evidence for human exploitation of the Moor from the earliest prehistoric period onwards. The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites, field systems, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains provides significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time. Round cairns are funerary monuments covering single or multiple burials and dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as mounds of earth and stone rubble up to 40m in external diameter but usually considerably smaller; a kerb of edge-set stones sometimes bounds the edges of the mound. Burials were placed in small pits, or on occasion within a box-like structure of stone slabs called a cist, let into the old ground surface or dug into the body of the cairn. Round cairns can occur as isolated monuments, in small groups or in larger cemeteries. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provides important information on the diversity of beliefs, burial practices and social organisation in the Bronze Age. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.

This large round cairn on Brown Gelly hill has survived substantially intact despite the limited and well-defined disturbance from relatively recent stone-robbing. The visible presence of coursed rubble walling within the mound is unusual. This cairn is contained in one of the very few groups of large cairns on Bodmin Moor. The prominent setting of this group and the diversity of cairns included within it demonstrates well the nature of funerary practices during the Bronze Age and the relationship between cairn size and topographical setting. The proximity of this cairn to the broadly contemporary settlement sites and field systems on the Browngelly Downs shows well the relationship of funerary activity with farming and habitation during the Bronze Age.


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


The monument includes a large prehistoric round cairn situated near the southern end of the broad summit ridge of Brown Gelly hill on southern Bodmin Moor. The cairn is the southernmost of a linear group of five large cairns arranged along the ridge. The round cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 20m in diameter and up to 2.6m high. The mound has an inverted-bowl shape with largely turf-covered sides; several small stone-robbing hollows along part of its northern lower edge reveal coursed rubble walling within the mound's periphery. A broad and relatively recent stone-robbers' trench has been dug east-west across the central upper part of the mound, up to 4.5m wide and 1m deep, filled with exposed loose rubble, some of which has been heaped onto each end of the trench. Beyond the monument, this linear group extends over 375m in a slight curve along the summit ridge of Brown Gelly, the nearest being located 60m to the north-west. Extensive broadly contemporary settlement sites and field systems are located on the eastern slope of the Browngelly Downs, 185m to the east.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 15266

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Trahair, J E R, 'Cornish Archaeology' in A survey of cairns on Bodmin Moor, , Vol. 17, (1978), 3-24
Buxton, H.K., The Landscape History of Brown Gelly, Bodmin Moor, 1986, Unpubl. BA Disstn, Univ. Sheffield
consulted 1993, Carter, A./Fletcher, M.J./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 1972 & SX 2072,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1770.5,

End of official listing