Prehistoric embanked platform cairn and linear boundary with superimposed medieval boundary and adjacent clearance cairn on Dinnever Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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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 12135 79284

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 rubble, up to 40m in external diameter. 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. Platform cairns may 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, of which a significant proportion occurs on Bodmin Moor. The prehistoric 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. These linear boundaries 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 the earlier, prehistoric, remains. Such may include medieval tenement boundaries, commonly formed as embanked ditches which served both to define the edges of the private arable and pasture land pertaining to the parent settlement and to deter stock from neighbouring tenements or common pasture from wandering onto that private land. The moorland enclosed by such boundaries was often prepared for agricultural use by clearing surface stone, which may be heaped to form small mounds called clearance cairns. These medieval remains 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 forming evidence for the successive changes in land use that have affected the Moor. This monument on Dinnever Hill contains well-preserved evidence for a sequence of prehistoric and medieval phases of land use and includes some unusual elements among those phases. The platform cairn has survived substantially intact despite the passage of the medieval boundary across its centre. It has not been excavated and its double-embanked form is most unusual. The proximity of this cairn to the other broadly contemporary and diverse funerary and ritual monuments on this part of the Moor demonstrates well the nature and organisation of ritual activity during the Bronze Age. The nearby prehistoric linear boundary also provides important evidence both for the sequence and the manner of land-use organisation among the prehistoric communities. Although much of the fabric of the boundary itself was removed prior to the medieval tenement boundary's construction, most of its course is visible and articulates with the other linear boundaries beyond this monument to present an unusually large-scale survival of upland land division during the Bronze Age. The thick peat deposits over the northern end of the boundary and in the midslope marsh that also encroaches onto it 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. The medieval tenement boundary has survived well and together with the northern sector of the boundary, beyond this monument, provides an unusually complete example of a medieval moorland-edge tenement block whose deserted settlement and inner field block also survive intact beyond the monument to the west. Its clear relationship with the prehistoric cairn and linear boundary shows well the sequence of land use on this hillside, while its passage across the linear boundary's robber trench provides rare evidence for the deliberate destruction of prehistoric boundaries on the Moor during the later prehistoric or earlier medieval period.


The monument includes a prehistoric funerary embanked platform cairn on the summit of Dinnever Hill on north-west Bodmin Moor. To the east of the cairn, the monument includes a prehistoric linear boundary which runs up the northern slope of the hill onto the summit. Both the cairn and the linear boundary are crossed by a much later, medieval, ditched boundary bank which encloses much of the north-western slope of the hill. Adjacent to the eastern corner of the medieval boundary is a small, broadly contemporary, mound of cleared surface stone, called a clearance cairn. The prehistoric platform cairn survives with a circular platform of heaped rubble, 20m in diameter and up to 0.3m high near its centre. The cairn supports two distinct, near-concentric, peripheral banks which together define a level internal area measuring 11m in diameter. The inner bank ranges from 1m to 1.6m wide and 0.3m-0.4m high. The gap between the inner and outer banks is 0.15m high and varies from 2.6m wide on the cairn's northern side to 0.5m wide on its southern side. The outer bank is 0.2m high and also ranges in width, from 1.7m at the north to 1.1m at the south. Both peripheral banks incorporate occasional larger slabs, generally laid flat, but the outer bank also includes an edge-set slab, 0.3m high, in its eastern sector. The cairn is overlain by the ditched medieval boundary, described in detail below. The boundary crosses the centre of the cairn on a WSW-ENE axis and in doing so, it is visible as a bank of heaped rubble, 1.8m wide and 0.2m high, rising to 0.5m high where it passes across the peripheral banks at the eastern side of the cairn. The bank is accompanied by a silted ditch, 1.2m wide and 0.1m deep, along its southern side. The prehistoric linear boundary passes 105m east of the platform cairn in its almost straight, NNE-SSW course, rising from the deep valley-floor peat near a streamhead at the northern foot of Dinnever Hill to the summit ridge of the hill. The course of the boundary is visible over 408m; over its northern 140m from its emergence as a surface feature from the peat to its passage across a small midslope marsh, the boundary survives as a heaped rubble bank, up to 1.1m wide and 0.2m high, incorporating some edge-set slabs up to 0.5m high. South of the small marsh, to its southern surviving end, the rubble fabric of the linear boundary has been partly removed during the later prehistoric or early medieval period by digging a shallow trench along its course. This trench, called a robber trench, survives up to 1m wide and 0.2m deep, and is accompanied by an intermittent bank of upcast rubble, up to 1.5m wide and 0.1m high. Although much of the boundary's rubble has been removed in this sector, the robber trench preserves the boundary's course, aiming for a valley head south of the modern Camperdown Farm but now disrupted by modern pasture improvement. This relationship to the local landforms and the nature of its intact northern sector confirm this linear boundary as one of a group of broadly contemporary prehistoric boundaries on this area of the Moor which run from valley to valley, subdividing the moorland into large blocks. Two other such linear boundaries emerge beyond the monument from the streamhead near the northern end of this boundary. Both the cairn and the robber trench of the prehistoric linear boundary are crossed by a medieval ditched boundary which encompasses much of the north-western slopes of Dinnever Hill. This boundary is considered to define a major portion of the outer boundary of the medieval tenement of East Rowden, whose deserted settlement survives on the lower western slope of the hill. The boundary survives as a bank of earth and rubble, up to 3m wide and 0.3m high, though generally 1.5m wide and 0.2m high. The boundary is accompanied by a ditch, generally 1m wide and 0.2m deep but rising to 4m wide and 0.5m deep at its eastern corner and northern end where subsequent drainage erosion has occurred. The ditch runs along the bank's outer side with respect to the area enclosed. The boundary survives over 1.18km; its western end rises from near the southern corner of the medieval settlement's field plots. From there it runs ESE for 120m then curves to extend north-east for 818m up the western slope of Dinnever Hill to its summit ridge, passing over the prehistoric platform cairn and the linear boundary's robber trench. Then the medieval boundary turns sharply to the NNW and extends a further 242m directly down the northern slope of the hill to end in the adjacent valley floor at the stream-edge. Close to that sharp turn on the summit ridge, and adjacent to the boundary's ditch, there is a small circular mound of heaped rubble, 2.75m in diameter and 0.25m high, comprising an accumulation of gathered surface stone, called a clearance cairn. Beyond the broad marshy area north of the stream, and beyond this monument, the course of this boundary is extended along the edge of the adjacent spur to the next valley floor by a further length of similar boundary. Besides the visible surface remains, environmental sampling in 1991 from the thick peat deposits adjacent to the north-east end of this monument has produced pollen evidence elucidating the vegetational sequence that accompanied and reflected the phases of human activity on this part of the Moor. This monument is located in one of several areas of Bodmin Moor that contain an unusually large grouping of prehistoric ritual and funerary monuments. In this grouping, in the vicinity of this monument, other prehistoric cairns of various types are located 250m to the north and 385m to the north-east of this monument's cairn on Dinnever Hill. Broadly contemporary ritual monuments nearby include the Stannon Stone Circle, 300m to the north of this monument. A prehistoric hut circle settlement and field system occupies much of the hill's north-western slope which was re-used by the East Rowden medieval settlement, while other prehistoric linear boundaries rise from the streamhead 168m to the ENE and 160m north-east of the northern end of this monument's boundary. Another medieval tenement boundary rises up the southern slope of the hill to 180m south-east of this monument and the thoroughfare between the tenement blocks marked by these two boundaries is marked by the medieval Middle Moor Cross, 80m beyond this monument.

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:


consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot for SX 1279,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 1179; SX 1279,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 1279-80 & SX 1379,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1972.2,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1972.8,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1990.2,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3059,
Mercer, R.J., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 897, 1973, consulted 1993
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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