Round cairn on Browngelly Downs, 625m ESE of Higher Gillhouse Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 27-Feb-2021 at 22:03:36.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
- St. Neot
- National Grid Reference:
- SX 19405 72847
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 the antiquarian excavation, and stone-robbing. The presence of an outlying slab near the cairn 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.
The monument includes a large prehistoric round cairn situated at the northern
end of the broad summit ridge of Brown Gelly hill on southern Bodmin Moor. The
cairn is the northernmost of a linear group of five large cairns arranged
along the ridge.
The round cairn survives with a circular mound of heaped rubble, 21m in
diameter and up to 2m high; the mound has an inverted-bowl shape with largely
turf-covered sides. The top of the mound has been truncated by an unrecorded
antiquarian excavation and by relatively recent stone-robbing. This has
produced a central hollow, 8m in diameter and up to 1m deep, filled with loose
rubble. A nearby rubble mound, 1m in diameter, 0.1m high and located 2.75m
beyond the cairn's SSE edge, contains debris from these recent disturbances.
The cairn is accompanied by a single end-set granite slab, 0.5m high and
tapered from a 0.4m square base, forming an outlier located 9.5m beyond the
south-west edge of the mound.
Beyond the area of this scheduling this linear group extends over 375m in a
slight curve along the summit ridge of Brown Gelly, the nearest being located
35m to the south-east. Extensive broadly contemporary settlement sites
and field systems are located on the eastern slope on the Browngelly Downs,
505m to the south-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:
- Legacy System:
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 1770.1,
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