Prehistoric field systems, enclosure, hut circles and rounds, with adjacent medieval settlement, longhouse and field system on Higher Langdon Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
St. Neot
National Grid Reference:
SX 20537 73465

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.

Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are a major feature of the Moor landscape. Irregular aggregate field systems are one such method of field layout known to have been employed in south-west England during the Bronze Age (c.2000 - 700 BC). Irregular aggregate field systems comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking in conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. Irregular aggregate field systems often incorporate or are situated near stone hut circles, the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on the Moor, mostly also dating from the Bronze Age. The stone-based round houses survive as low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; the remains of a turf or thatch roof are not preserved as visible features. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may occur in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. Prehistoric enclosures may adjoin field systems or may occur in the open. These discrete plots of land enclosed by stone walls, or banks of stone and earth, were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing and were sometimes subdivided to accommodate animal shelters and hut circle settlements for farmers and herders. The size and form of enclosures may therefore vary considerably, depending on their particular function. Prehistoric field systems, enclosures and hut circles are important elements of the existing landscape and provide important evidence on the organisation of farming practices and settlement during the prehistoric period. Rounds are small embanked enclosures, often with an external ditch and usually circular or oval in shape. They form one of several settlement types known to date to the later Iron Age and Roman periods (c.400 BC to AD 450). They usually have a single earth-and-rubble bank broken by one entrance gap. Excavated examples have produced dry-stone supporting walls within the bank, paved or cobbled entrance ways and post-built gate structures. The foundations of timber, turf or stone-built houses, of oval or rectangular plan, are often set around the inner edge of the enclosing bank. Hearths, drains, gullies, pits and rubbish middens are sometimes preserved, as is evidence for small-scale industrial activity. Rounds may be associated with secondary enclosures, either butted against the round or separated by a small gap. Rounds are viewed primarily as agricultural settlements, the equivalents of farming hamlets, replaced by unenclosed settlement types by the 7th century AD. The relatively unintensive post-medieval land use of upland areas which has allowed the preservation of much surviving prehistoric settlement and field system evidence has also permitted the survival of medieval remains which often abut or impinge on those earlier, prehistoric, remains. Such medieval remains may include various forms of field system and settlement. Regular enclosed field systems are one such field system type known to have been employed during the later medieval period (AD 1066 - 1550). They comprise a methodically-arranged collection of field plots in which individual holdings were systematically distributed through different parts of the field system's overall area. This was achieved by several known methods of field layout depending on whether the field system was superimposed on an earlier, sometimes unenclosed, field system or whether it was newly established on the area covered, and whether or not the field system comprised a cohesive or dispersed collection of plots. The resulting regular enclosed field systems often include collections of elongated strip-form plots, each plot representing one unit of an individual's holding. Medieval field systems sometimes survive in association with broadly contemporary settlements containing longhouses, one of the several distinctive forms of medieval farmhouse which may occur individually or grouped to form villages. Rectangular in plan, usually with boulder or rubble outer walls and with their long axis orientated downslope, the interior of longhouses was divided into two separate functional areas, an upslope domestic room and a downslope stock-byre, known in south-west England as a shippon. The division between the two, and their access, was usually provided by timber screens or sometimes rubble walling, running transversely across the longhouse, linking opposed openings in the long side-walls. Longhouses may be accompanied by ancillary buildings, separated slightly from the farmhouse itself, which may have served as fuel stores or occasionally contain ovens and corn-drying kilns. The earliest known longhouses date to the 10th to 11th centuries AD but their main period of construction was during the later 12th to 15th centuries AD. Medieval field systems and longhouse settlements also form an important element of the existing landscape, providing information on the organisation of medieval farming and settlement, its expansion onto the uplands and providing evidence for the successive changes in land use that have affected the Moor.

This monument on Higher Langdon Farm has survived well. The three separate prehistoric field systems with their groups of hut circles show clearly the nature of settlement and farming activity and their relationship to the topography during the Bronze Age. The Iron Age to Roman rounds and the medieval settlement sites and field system similarly demonstrate those aspects for these later periods. However, the presence of good surviving remains from all of these periods in such close physical association is very unusual, providing a rare opportunity to observe on one contiguous block of land the development of settlement form and land-use from the Bronze Age to the medieval period. Rounds in particular are rare on Bodmin Moor and the two included in this monument are the only examples on the Moor considered to preserve the original spacing between them. The proximity of the monument to the prehistoric cairns, the prehistoric and medieval settlements and field systems on the Browngelly Downs, and the documented medieval tin-mining remains in the adjoining valley, places this monument in its wider context of land-use development.


The monument is situated on the slopes and crown of a broad spur occupied by Higher Langdon Farm and projecting east in the River Fowey valley on southern Bodmin Moor. It includes three prehistoric irregular aggregate field systems with incorporated and adjacent stone hut circles situated around the south, east and north-east upper slopes of the spur, and a prehistoric enclosure with an incorporated hut circle on the north-east slope. A later prehistoric to Roman banked enclosure, called a round, is situated below and adjacent to the prehistoric field system on the north-east slope, while another broadly contemporary round is situated at a similar level on the spur's south-east slope. A deserted medieval settlement is situated adjacent to the prehistoric field system on the spur's southern slope and a medieval regular enclosed field system extends around the south-east and eastern slopes of the spur, partly encompassing and physically linking the earlier settlement and field system features on those slopes. The medieval field system incorporates a broadly contemporary long-house on the eastern slope. More recent activity within the monument has resulted in a post-medieval water-course running along the spur's upper eastern slope and in the foundations of a small post-medieval building on the eastern slope. The prehistoric field systems and enclosure survive with walling of heaped rubble and boulders, up to 2m wide and 0.8m high, though usually much slighter. The walls incorporate occasional edge-set slabs, sometimes forming a facing along one or both sides. Where they run along the contour, a marked build-up of soil, called a lynchet, has formed against the walls' uphill side due to the combined effects of early cultivation and gravity. Each of the three field systems forms a settlement focus, containing abundant stone hut circles distributed throughout its network of field plots. Each hut circle survives with a wall of heaped rubble and boulders, often with inner and outer facing slabs, defining circular or ovoid internal areas levelled into the hillslope. Entrance gaps are visible in several hut circle walls and some hut circles are adjoined by small ovoid annexes. The prehistoric field system on the spur's southern upper slope survives over 3ha and contains at least 19 field plots. The plots range in size from 0.02ha to 0.52ha and are irregularly-shaped, defined by sinuous field walls. The field system contains 31 hut circles, ranging from 2.4m to 12.4m in internal diameter, most falling in the range 5m to 8m diameter. Entrance gaps are visible in seven hut circles, facing various southerly aspects, and two hut circles have adjoining annexes. Two hut circles located beyond the field system's walling, 15m and 28m to its north-east respectively, are considered to have been formerly encompassed within peripheral parts of this field system whose walling has been largely cleared during the medieval and later periods. The prehistoric field system on the spur's eastern upper slope is located 75m ENE of that on the southern slope and survives over 1.4ha, containing at least 8 field plots, though partial medieval re-use has resulted in later subdivision of at least three of these plots. The plots range in size from 0.025ha to 0.31ha and are largely sub-rectangular in shape with evenly curved or straight walls. This field system contains 12 hut circles, including two examples adjacent to the field system's outermost walls at the south and west sides. The hut circles range from 3m to 8m in internal diameter with entrances visible in two examples, facing north-east and south-east respectively. The prehistoric enclosure encompasses 0.08ha and is located 67m NNW of the east slope field system. The enclosure is sub-rectangular in shape and measures up to 30m NE-SW by 30m NW-SE, tapering towards its uphill, south-west side. A single small hut circle, 2.5m in internal diameter, is built within the north-west wall of the enclosure. The third prehistoric field system is visible from 45m north-west of the enclosure. It survives over 3.1ha, extending down the upper north-east slope from the crown of the spur. This field system contains at least 13 field plots, though recent clearance on the crown and middle slope of the spur has removed or interrupted some prehistoric walls in the south-western sector of this field system and along its surviving north-east edge. The plots range from 0.03ha to 0.5ha in size and are irregular in shape with variously curved or sinuous walls. This field system contains 19 hut circles, but a further 6 hut circles located 14m to 30m beyond the field system's southern and eastern surviving walling are considered formerly to have been encompassed by the field system before its later partial clearance. The hut circles range from 3m to 5.8m in diameter. Two of the hut circles have concentric annexes formed by rubble walls built 1m beyond the hut circles' outer walls. Each of the two later prehistoric to Roman rounds survives with a turf- covered bank of earth and rubble enclosing a sub-circular internal area. They are situated 360m apart at mid-slope level on the spur's ENE-facing slope overlooking the Fowey valley. The northern round has a bank up to 10m wide, forming a 1m high scarp along its downslope edge and defining an internal area of 0.25ha, measuring up to 55m NW-SE by 45m NE-SW. Modern hedgebanks are considered to overlie the north-west, south-west and part of the south-east course of the round's bank, with remains of the earlier bank visible beneath the hedgebanks over much of these sectors. This round is located immediately downslope from the surviving walling of the north-eastern prehistoric field system, one of whose hut circles survives near the north-west edge of the round's interior. The southern round has a bank up to 12m wide and 1m high along its downslope edge. The bank defines an ovoid internal area of 0.35ha, measuring up to 75m NNW-SSE by 60m WSW-ENE. The deserted medieval settlement is located on the spur's southern lower slope, adjacent to and downslope from the prehistoric field system on that slope. The settlement contains remains of three longhouses, a medieval form of farmhouse. The longhouses survive with walling of heaped and coursed rubble and boulders, up to 2m wide and 0.6m high, defining elongated rectangular internal areas ranging from 10m long by 3m wide to 13.5m long by 3.5m wide, orientated with their long axes downslope, NNE-SSW. The northern longhouse in the settlement is located adjacent to the southern edge of an irregular plot of the prehistoric field system. A second longhouse is located 55m to the SSW between two small rectangular garden plots, of 0.025ha and 0.05ha, each markedly lynchetted and defined by a rubble and boulder wall, up to 1.25m wide and 0.75m high. Rubble wall foundations define an internal area, measuring 10.9m by 4.7m, of a rectangular building considered to be a barn, 8m east of this longhouse and also between the two garden plots. The third longhouse is situated 27m south-east of the barn and is located at the centre of a yard area of 0.04ha. Slight rubble wall foundations from a contiguous row of three small outbuildings are visible 2.5m west of, and parallel to, the western side of the longhouse. A semi-elliptical garden plot of 0.05 ha extends north from the yard. The plot is lynchetted to a height of 1m along its southern edge against the yard but elsewhere it is defined by a rubble wall, up to 0.8m wide and 0.2m high, incorporating edge- set slabs up to 0.6m high. A deep modern farm track cuts through the eastern half of the yard area, clipping the south-east corners of the longhouse and garden plot. From 10m east of that longhouse's yard, another rubble wall, up to 0.7m wide and 0.2m high, survives near a modern hedgebank and is considered to mark the western wall of a third longhouse-and-plot unit which formerly existed within the settlement but which has been largely destroyed by modern clearance. In addition to the surviving remains of this settlement, it has also been considered as the location of a settlement called 'Langadon', first known from a documentary reference dated AD 1327. The medieval regular enclosed field system considered to pertain to this settlement extends across the south-east and eastern slopes of the spur; further remains survive beyond the monument 100m west of the settlement, separated from it by an area recently cleared and levelled. The area of the field system is subdivided into a succession of contiguous narrow strips orientated downslope and defined by straight, heaped rubble walls up to 2m wide and 0.5m high. On the eastern flanks of the spur, the field system survives continuously over 7 ha, extending northwards from the slope below the southern round to the southern edge of the prehistoric field system on the spur's north-east slope. On the lower slope, below the 225m contour level, the strips range from 20m to 45m wide, rising from the foot of the slope to the lower edge of the round and, elsewhere, to a lynchetted cross-bank, paired over part of its length, which runs along the contour. On the middle slope, two patterns are visible. Over the surviving 25m of the middle slope south of the round and for 85m to its NNW, the broad strips present a similar pattern to that on the lower slopes, also ending on an upslope cross-bank. The medieval and earlier remains on the upper slope above this sector have largely been destroyed by the modern buildings and yards of Higher Langdon Farm. North of that point, the strips on the middle and upper slope are largely undivided and much narrower, ranging from 5m to 25m wide and commonly averaging 8m wide. They rise over the middle and upper slopes to a common limit along the crest of the spur, at about the 252m contour level, marked now by a post medieval water-course, called a leat, which here adopts the line of the former medieval upper field boundary. At their southern extent, the upper ends of these narrow strip walls terminate on the downslope wall of the prehistoric field system on the east slope. Very incomplete and partial attempts to clear and subdivide the plots of this earlier field system are evident. The lower ends of the southernmost narrow strips meet the cross-bank at the 225m contour level, but elsewhere they end on a modern broad farm track with an accompanying ditch which is considered to have destroyed any former midslope boundary along which they terminated. A further sector of this regularly enclosed field system survives over 1.3 ha on the spur's upper south east slope. Here the strips are 20m to 35m wide, running slightly obliquely downslope and parallel to an uphill boundary separating the strips from the crown of the spur. The latter boundary links the walling of the prehistoric field systems on the south and east slopes and is accompanied by a ditch, up to 1m wide and 0.1m deep, along its upper side. This sector is separated from the remainder of the field system on the east slope and from the medieval settlement on the south slope by the uncleared prehistoric field systems on the east and south slopes respectively and by later destruction for recent pasture improvement and the building of the modern Higher Langdon Farm to the south and south east. A single medieval longhouse is located within the area of this regular enclosed field system, within the northen edge of the prehistoric field system on the east slope. The longhouse survives with walls of heaped rubble and boulders, up to 1.75m wide and 0.6m high, defining an internal area measuring 11.3m long by 2.6m wide, its long axis orientated downslope, WSW-ENE. An internal subdividing wall partitions the western 3m of the interior from the remainder. A small sub-rectangular outbuilding is located 4m south east of the longhouse and had a slight wall of heaped rubble, 0.9m wide and 0.2m high, defining an internal area measuring 3m NE-SW by 2.5m NW-SE, not levelled into the slope. Features within the monument deriving from the post medieval activity include a leat running around the upper slope of the spur at the 252m-255m contour level, descending gently from north to south and surviving as a ditch, up to 1.2m wide and 0.4m deep, accompanied along its downslope side by a bank of upcast, up to 1.3m wide and 0.9m high. The leat enters the monument at the north, crossing the prehistoric field system on the north east slope, then its course adopts the upper boundary of the medieval regular field system on the east slope, where its bank has also been utilised for a modern boundary. Further south, it crosses the prehistoric field system on the east slope and the medieval regular field system on the south east slope, beyond which it has been destroyed by modern clearance. An abandoned early post medieval field bank runs obliquely down the spur's upper east slope, crossing the northern part of the medieval field system from the single longhouse almost to the corner of a modern field on the middle slope to the north east. It survives as a bank of heaped rubble and boulders up to 1m wide and 0.6m high. The remains of an abandoned post medieval farm outbuilding survive on the spur's eastern slope, 100m south east of the single longhouse. These survive with walling of coursed rubble and boulders, up to 1m wide and 0.4m high, defining a rectangular structure measuring 6m north south by 4m wide internally, with an extension, 3m wide, projection 4.5m east from its northern end. The rectangular structure has an entrance gap 0.6m wide in its south east corner, flanked on its south side by an edge set slab, 1m high, bearing drilled stone splitting holes. Beyond the monument, an unenclosed hut circle settlement is situated 130m away on the north west slope of the spur. There are, 350m south west of the monument extensive, closely grouped, prehistoric field systems and settlement sites on the lower eastern slopes of the Browngelly Downs, while five large funerary cairns are located on the summit ridge of the Downs overlooking this monument. Well-preserved medieval settlements with their field systems are also situated on the lower eastern slope of the Downs, from 250m to the south west and visible from this monument's medieval settlement. Medieval tin-mining along the valley between this monument and the Browngelly Downs medieval settlements has resulted in the earliest historically recorded tin streaming works to be identifiable on the ground. All modern post and wire fences, gates and gate-fittings; electricity supply lines, poles and fittings; the concrete block water tank and its buried outflow pipe; the cess pit and its inflow pipe near the southern round and the surfaces of the modern cleared and levelled farm tracks are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath, including walls and hedgebanks, is included.

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:
Legacy System:


AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 416, 1955, consulted 1993
AM7 Scheduling Maplet and Documentation for CO 416, 1955, consulted 1993
AM7 Scheduling Maplet and Documentation for CO 416, consulted 1993
APs: NMR SX2073/3/137; Cambridge QC 70, 71,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./Fletcher, M.J./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2073,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1225,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1226,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1227,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1227.27,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1228,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1229,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1259,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1303,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1343.1-.2,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1388,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3614,


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

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