Embanked platform cairn with central mound on Browngelly Downs, 680m ESE of Higher Gillhouse 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 19460 72818

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. Platform cairns are funerary monuments covering single or multiple burials and dating to the Early Bronze Age (c.2000-1600 BC). They were constructed as low flat-topped mounds of stone rubble up to 40m in external diameter. Some examples have other features, including peripheral banks and internal mounds, constructed on this platform. A kerb of edge-set stones sometimes bounds the edges of the platform, bank or mound, or all three. Platform cairns occur as isolated monuments, in small groups, or in cairn cemeteries. In the latter instances they are normally found alongside cairns of other types. Although no precise figure is available, current evidence indicates that there are under 250 known examples of this monument class nationally. As a rare monument type exhibiting considerable variation in form, a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.

This platform cairn on Brown Gelly hill has survived well despite some minor and well-defined disturbance from antiquarian excavation. The cairn clearly retains its unusual form and is the largest platform cairn known on Bodmin Moor. The presence of an orthostatic slab in the cairn's outer bank is a further unusual feature. 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 embanked platform cairn with a central mound situated near the northern end of the broad summit ridge of Brown Gelly hill on southern Bodmin Moor. The cairn is located towards the northern end of a linear group of five large cairns arranged along the ridge. The cairn survives with a turf-covered circular platform of heaped rubble, 32m in diameter. The platform has a 3m wide periphery, rising to 0.5m high, within which is an outer bank, similarly of heaped rubble, up to 2.5m wide and 1m high. The outer face of this bank shows traces of coursed rubble in several places and contains several large boulders considered to form a spaced kerb. Among these boulders is a large end-set slab, called an orthostat, projecting from the bank's outer face in its south-east sector. This slab, 1m high, 0.7m wide and 0.25m thick, stands with its broad face orientated NW-SE, approximately in line with the axis of the northern three cairns in this linear group. Within the outer bank, the platform maintains an almost flat surface, up to 0.7m high. Situated at the platform's centre is a small, circular, heaped rubble mound, 10m in diameter and rising 1.2m above the platform surface. The mound has an inverted-bowl shape, truncated at the centre by a hollow, 3.5m in diameter and up to 1m deep, due to an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. Beyond the monument, this linear group extends over 375m in a slight curve along the summit ridge of Brown Gelly, the nearest being located 35m to the north-west. Extensive broadly contemporary settlement sites and field systems are located on the eastern slope of the Browngelly Downs, from 442m 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 1770.2,


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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