Stannon Stone Circle, prehistoric field system, hut circle settlement, cairns, cist, linear boundaries and medieval building north of Dinnever Hill


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. Breward
National Grid Reference:
SX 12685 79833

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.

Stone circles are prehistoric ritual monuments comprising one or more circles of upright or recumbent stones. Single upright stones may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of stones radiating out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may also be found close to the circles. Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). It is clear they were designed and laid out carefully, frequently exhibiting very regularly spaced stones, the heights of which also appear to have been of some importance. We do not fully understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but it is clear that they had a considerable ritual significance for the societies that used them. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided a focus for burials and rituals that accompanied interment of the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping to mark the passage of time and seasons, this being indicated by the careful alignment of stones to mark important solar or lunar events. At other sites the spacing of individual circles throughout the landscape has led to the suggestion that each one provided some form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. Platform cairns are one of the several types of funerary monuments sometimes found near stone circles. Dating to the Early Bronze Age (c.2000-1600 BC), they were constructed as low, flat-topped mounds of rubble, up to 40m in diameter, covering single or multiple burials. Some examples have other features, including peripheral banks and internal mounds, constructed on the platform. A kerb of edge-set slabs sometimes bounds the edges of the platform, bank or mound, or all three. The burials, either inhumations or cremations, were placed in small pits, on occasion within small box-like structures of stone slabs, called cists, set into the old ground surface or placed within the body of a mound on the platform. Platform cairns may occur as isolated monuments, in small groups or in cairn cemeteries. Burial cists occasionally occur as free-standing monuments in their own right, without any covering mound of rubble, but these are extremely rare on the Moor with only three examples known for certain. Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are a major feature of the Moor landscape. Several methods of field layout are known to have been employed in south-west England during the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). Irregular aggregate field systems are one such method, comprising a collection of field plots, generally lacking in conformity of orientation and arrangement and containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. These 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 as settlements and may occur in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. The linear boundaries of Bodmin Moor consist of rubble banks, sometimes incorporating facing slabs or projecting end-set slabs called orthostats. They may be massively constructed, up to 8m wide and 1m high, although the majority are much slighter. Built during the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC), they fulfilled a variety of functions. Some run at high altitude along a contour and appear to separate lower land used for cultivation from that less intensively used. Some may be territorial, marking the boundaries of land held by particular social groups. Others may serve to delineate land set aside for ceremonial and religious activities such as burial. Frequently linear boundaries are associated with other forms of contemporary field system. Prehistoric field systems, hut circles and linear boundaries are important elements of the existing landscape and provide important evidence on the organisation of farming practices, settlement and societies during the prehistoric period. 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 later monuments which often abut or impinge on those earlier, prehistoric, remains. Such later monuments may include rare Romano-British remains or, more commonly, medieval remains, including various types of settlement and boundaries which again 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 between Dinnever Hill and Louden Hill contains well-preserved evidence for a sequence of prehistoric phases of land use on this spur and includes several unusual and rare elements among those phases. The stone circle has survived well and has not been excavated. It is one of the largest stone circles on the Moor; its irregularity and predominantly small stone size are unusual features, shared on Bodmin Moor only with the nearby stone circle to the east at Fernacre. The proximity of this stone circle to two other stone circles is also unusual and, together with the monument's cairns and cist, serves to emphasise that the ritual and funerary elements in this monument form an important part of the wider grouping of prehistoric ceremonial monuments focussed on this sector of the Moor. Such close proximity between a stone circle and a prehistoric field system is a very unusual feature of this monument. The linear boundaries provide important evidence both for the sequence and the manner of land-use organisation among the prehistoric communities. The limited excavations carried out on the field system and one of the linear boundaries have confirmed their Bronze Age date. The thick peat deposits over much of the spur and in the marsh around the stream-head is known to preserve environmental information contemporary with the sequence of prehistoric and later phases of activity in the monument. Pollen analyses from these deposits have elucidated the vegetational context within which this monument developed. Particularly rare elements within the monument include the free-standing cist, one of only three known on the Moor, and the Romano-British - early medieval building, again one of only three known on the Moor of such a form and of a period poorly represented by upstanding domestic remains in south-west England.


The monument includes a prehistoric ritual stone circle, the Stannon Stone Circle, and a prehistoric irregular aggregate field system which extends south and east from the stone circle. The monument is situated across a broad spur and around an adjacent stream-head between Dinnever Hill and Louden Hill on north-west Bodmin Moor. Incorporated within the prehistoric field system are a hut circle settlement and a much later building, of Romano-British or medieval date, in its north-east sector. A funerary platform cairn and a nearby funerary cist are incorporated towards the centre of the field system, and a platform cairn with a central mound and outer bank near its southern edge. Later prehistoric land division resulted in two linear boundaries which cut across parts of the field system and extend beyond it, one of which shows evidence for partial re-use as a medieval boundary. Medieval and later transport across the Moor has resulted in hollowed routeways crossing many parts of the monument. The Stannon Stone Circle is visible as a sub-circular arrangement of 68 granite slabs situated on a flat shelf near the north-west edge of the spur containing much of the monument. The stone circle measures a maximum 42.7m NE-SW by a minimum 39m north-south along the line of the erect slabs. Its arrangement deviates markedly from a true circle, including four flattened arcs in its south-east, south-west, WNW and north sectors. The circle contains 39 erect or leaning slabs and 29 fallen slabs. In addition many smaller packing stones are visible about the bases of the slabs. The slabs are closely spaced, generally in the range 0.1m to 2m apart, but some larger gaps, up to 5.5m wide, denote missing slabs, some of whose locations are visible as hollows in the turf. The circle is considered originally to have contained up to 82 slabs. The surviving slabs range in height from 0.3m to 1.16m but most are under 0.75m high. No consistent grading of slab-height is evident in the circle and the slabs show no evidence for surface dressing. The largest slab, located in the western sector of the circle, is 1.25m wide and 1.4m long, but leans outwards. An outlying edge-set slab is situated 8.5m beyond the NNE sector of the circle. This slab measures 1.25m long NNW-SSE, by 0.25m thick and leans, now standing 0.5m high but would be 0.7m high if erect. The prehistoric irregular aggregate field system survives over 8.75ha along the central and western parts of the spur and around the adjacent stream-head. It contains four large plots defined by sinuous, largely turf-covered walls of heaped rubble, up to 1.2m wide and 0.4m high. Near the south-west corner of the field system, a river channel exposes a section of the wall 1m wide and 0.5m high, buried beneath a 0.5m thick peat deposit. The three intact field plots - two across the central part of the field system and one across their southern ends - range from 2.1ha-2.7ha in extent. The western of the central plots approaches to within 20m of the Stannon Stone Circle. The northern walling of the north-eastern plot has been destroyed by later stone-robbing. The hut circle settlement is incorporated within the field system's north-east plot and includes four stone hut circles, spaced 8m-33m apart in an east-west linear arrangement. The hut circles survive with walls of heaped rubble and small boulders, up to 1.1m wide and 0.4m high, defining circular or ovoid internal areas ranging in size from 3.5m in diameter to 7.5m by 4.5m, levelled into the slight slope. Parts of the huts' walls have been disrupted and robbed for stone but three retain some small inner facing slabs. The field system also incorporates two prehistoric funerary platform cairns, part of a wider, dispersed, grouping including various types of cairn in the vicinity and considered to derive from a different phase of prehistoric land use from the field system. The cairn near the western wall of the field system's eastern central plot survives with a largely turf-covered circular platform of heaped rubble, 9m in diameter and up to 0.25m high. Two large slabs, up to 1m long, lie flat in the turf on the southern and western periphery of the cairn. The other platform cairn, 265m to the SSW and 10m within the southern edge of the field system's southern plot, survives with a circular platform, 11.5m in diameter and up to 0.3m high. The periphery of the platform supports an outer bank, up to 1.5m wide and 0.4m high. At its centre, the platform supports a small circular mound, 5m in diameter and rising 0.4m from the platform surface. The mound had a central hollow, 2.5m in diameter and up to 0.45m deep, resulting from an unrecorded antiquarian excavation. Two large slabs, up to 1m long, lie on the northern edge of the central mound. Situated 15m ENE of the northern platform cairn is a small, free-standing prehistoric funerary cist: a box-like, slab-built structure within which a burial was placed. The cist survives with an irregular ovoid covering slab, called a capstone, measuring 1.3m NE-SW by 0.9m NW-SE and 0.11m thick. The upper surface of the slab is up to 0.4m above the ground level and lies almost flat. Projecting 0.35m beyond the south-west edge of the capstone, the corner of the cist's south-eastern side-slab is visible, rising 0.35m high. The turf-fast upper edge of the north-west side-slab of the cist is visible 0.5m north-west of the other side-slab. There is no evidence for any covering mound at this cist. Later prehistoric land use resulted in the large scale division of the spur and the adjoining parts of Dinnever Hill by three almost straight linear boundaries radiating from the marshy stream-head in the western part of the monument. The monument contains two of these boundaries which cut across the irregular field system, partly robbing the adjacent sectors of the field system walls of stone. The third linear boundary runs south, beyond the monument, from a point 53m west of the field system's south-western plot walling. The northern of the monument's linear boundaries survives for 410m on a NE-SW course across the neck of the spur, descending into the marshy valley at each end. The boundary is visible as a wall of heaped rubble and small boulders, up to 1.7m wide and 0.5m high. Some parts retain contiguous laid basal blocks from facing courses along each side of the wall. Near its midpoint on the spur, the boundary incorporates an end-set slab, called an orthostat, 1m high, considered to mark one side of an original gateway through the boundary. The southern linear boundary originates from a point 85m south-east of the other boundary's terminal in the stream-head marsh and extends for 528m SSE over the summit of the Dinnever Hill-Candra Hill ridge. The boundary survives as a turf-covered bank of heaped rubble, up to 2m wide and 0.2m high, with some traces of facing slabs along its eastern side. The bank is accompanied on its eastern side by intermittent traces of a ditch, up to 1.7m wide and 0.1m deep, denoting a medieval re-use when the boundary was incorporated into a series of medieval pasture boundaries which enclose much of Dinnever Hill to the west. Romano-British or early medieval exploitation within the monument resulted in a small sub-rectangular building with rounded corners situated near the centre of the prehistoric hut circle settlement at the north-east edge of the monument. The building survives with a wall of heaped rubble and boulders, up to 1.75m wide and 0.6m high, defining an internal area measuring 13m east-west by 6m north-south, levelled into the slope. The wall incorporates several large edge-set inner facing slabs, up to 0.75m high and 1m long, and some smaller outer facing slopes. A break, 0.75m wide, in the south-west corner may mark the original entrance. Up to 2m beyond the north-east wall of the building is a parallel, short length of rubble bank, 3m long, 1m wide and 0.3m high. The size and form of this building is comparable with farmhouses dated to the Romano-British and early medieval periods elsewhere in Cornwall. The monument is crossed by numerous shallow linear hollows, called hollow ways. These result from rutting along regularly-used later medieval and post- medieval routes following the spur, linking the moorland pasture and tenements with the lower land of north-west Cornwall's coastal belt. In addition to the surface remains, limited excavations carried out in 1991 on the course of a water pipeline laid NW-SE across the monument produced radiocarbon dates confirming a Bronze Age date for the NE-SW linear boundary and the irregular aggregate field system that it crosses. Pollen analyses undertaken at the same time from the peat deposits about the streamhead indicate that the irregular field system was laid out on already-cleared grassland which remained open during the Bronze Age. This monument is located within one of several areas of Bodmin Moor which contain unusually large groupings of prehistoric ritual and funerary monuments. Beyond the monument, these include a ritual stone setting 62m north-west of the Stannon Stone Circle, and two other large stone circles located 800m to the south-east and 1.9km to the east. Funerary cairns of various forms are dispersed across the neighbouring moorland, the nearest being located 90m east of the irregular field system and 225m to its south- west. Prehistoric field systems, hut circle settlements and linear boundaries, several displaying multiple phases of layout, occur on the western slopes of Dinnever Hill and, extensively, on Louden Hill and the Roughtor Moors to the east and north-east, as also do medieval field systems, settlements and pasture boundaries. The modern water pipeline, its pipeline-trench and associated inspection shafts, covers, marker-posts, fittings and post-and-wire fences, and the surface of the modern metalled track to Fernacre Farm are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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.

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Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982), 168
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982), 168
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982), 168
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976)
AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 109, Handwritten date 15/12/27 on AM7 form
CAU written data for PRN 3060 (not recast or input format), consulted 1993
CCRA, CCRA Field Survey Record Card: Stannon South: Context 26 & 26/1, (1984)
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 1279-80 & SX 1379,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 1279-80 & SX 1379, (1984)
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots for SX 1279-80 & SX 1380,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots for SX 1279-80,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots for SX 1279-80; SX 1379,
consulted 1993, CAU, 1:1000 Bodmin Moor Survey plan for SX 1279 NE & SE, (1984)
consulted 1993, CAU, 1:1000 Bodmin Moor Survey plans for SX 1279 NE & SE, (1984)
consulted 1993, CAU/RCHME, 1:1000 Bodmin Moor Survey plan for SX 1279 NE, (1984)
consulted 1993, CAU; Sharpe, A. & Gerrard, G.A.M., Cornwall SMR entry & 1:100 plan for PRN 1972.4,
consulted 1993, CCRA Register Entry for SX 18 SW/13 (equals PRN 3315),
consulted 1993, CCRA Register Entry No. SX 18 SW/12,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1972.6 & 1:100 plan,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1972.7,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1990.4,
consulted 1993, Johnson, N.D. & Rose, P.G., Bodmin Moor Survey 1:1000 plan for SX 1279 NE, (1984)
consulted 1993, Johnson, N.D. & Rose, P.G., Field Survey Record Card for Stannon South, Context 5, (1984)
consulted 1993, Johnson, N.D. & Rose, P.G./CAU, 1:1000 Bodmin Moor Survey plan for SX 1279 NE & SX 1280 SE, (1984)
consulted 1993, Johnson, N.D. & Rose, P.G./CAU, Cornwall Field Survey Record Card for Stannon South, Context 6, (1984)
consulted 1993, Johnson, N.D. & Rose, P.G./CAU/RCHME, 1:1000 Bodmin Moor Survey plan: SX 1279 NE, (1984)
Cornwall SMR data, Johnson, N.D. & Rose, P.G./CCRA, Field Surv. Rec. Cards: Stannon South: Contexts 19,20,22,23,29, (1984)
Johnson, N.D. & Rose, P.G., 1:1000 CCRA survey plans: SX 1279 NE; SX 1280 SE, (1984)
Johnson, N.D. & Rose, P.G./CCRA, 1:1000 Survey Plan: SX 1280 SE, (1984)
Mercer, R.J., AM7 scheduling documentation and Checkprint for CO 897, 1972, CO 897 B
Notes and 1:100 plan, Rose, P.G., Field Survey Record Card notes for Stannon South, Context 21, (1985)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map: SX 07/17, Pathfinder 1338, Bodmin Moor (West) Source Date: 1988 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Pathfinder Series 1338, Bodmin Moor west Source Date: 1988 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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.

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