Two stone hut circles with adjacent prehistoric field wall and incorporated medieval transhumance hut 180m north east of Tresibbet 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)
- National Grid Reference:
- SX 20430 75437
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 hut circles were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on the Moor, mostly dating from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). 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, they may be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone or they may be incorporated into one of several types of contemporary field system. Although they are common on the Moor, their longevity of use and their relationship with other monument types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices among prehistoric communities. The relatively unintensive post-medieval land use which has permitted the survival of prehistoric monuments on the Moor also preserves remains from later activities. Among these are transhumance huts, small seasonally occupied huts built to provide shelter for herdsmen who tended animals grazing summer pasture on uplands or marshland. On the Moor, these huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby stock was moved in spring from lowland pastures around permanently occupied farms to communal upland grazing during the warmer summer months. Although transhumance is considered to have taken place since at least the Bronze Age, herdsman's huts in a form distinctive from the normal dwelling houses of farmers only appear during the medieval period (c.AD 450-1550). Transhumance huts may measure up to 10m by 5m externally but are commonly much smaller and they may occur singly or in groups. They usually have a simple sub-rectangular or ovoid plan, normally defined by drystone walling though occasional turf-built structures are known. This monument on Tresibbet Farm has survived well. The hut circles show clearly their manner of construction and the distinctive manner of levelling the larger hut circle by terracing out from the slope is a method known elsewhere in the vicinity but is generally unusual. The adjacent prehistoric wall provides evidence for the hut circles' wider context within a field system. The thick peat and soil deposits built up against the prehistoric wall will preserve environmental evidence and buried land surfaces contemporary with and subsequent to the construction and use of the wall and nearby hut circles. The reuse of a hut circle for a medieval transhumance hut is unusual and demonstrates well the changing nature of settlement associated with the successive land uses of the prehistoric and medieval periods. The proximity of the monument to the other prehistoric settlement sites and to the stone circle on the ridge above shows well the nature of land use and the relationship of settlement to ritual activity among Bronze Age communities.
The monument includes two prehistoric hut circles and an adjacent, broadly
contemporary, field wall situated at the south west edge of Smith's Moor, on
the eastern crest of the upper River Fowey valley on southern Bodmin Moor. The
larger of the two hut circles was later partitioned for reuse as a herdsman's
shelter during the early medieval period.
These hut circles are located at the south east end of a settlement of five
stone hut circles dispersed along the west and south west edge of Smith's
Moor. The two hut circles are situated 1.25m apart on an east-west axis. The
larger, western, hut circle survives with a wall of heaped rubble, up to 1.75m
wide and 0.6m high, defining a circular internal area measuring 9m in
diameter. The wall has inner and outer facing slabs, often contiguous, up to
0.7m high, and the interior is levelled by cutting into the hillslope on its
uphill, north eastern, side and by building its south western half out from
the slope on a rubble terrace. The eastern hut circle survives with a slighter
heaped rubble wall, up to 1.1m wide and 0.3m high, defining a circular
internal area 3.75m in diameter, levelled into the slope. The wall has small
but often contiguous inner and outer facing slabs, up to 0.4m high though most
only rise to turf level.
The adjacent prehistoric field wall is visible from 10m south west of the
western hut circle, from where it extends over a straight north westerly
course for 18m, then curves round to the west over the next 13m to the point
where modern wall construction has robbed it of stone. It survives as a heaped
rubble wall, at least 1m wide and 0.3m high, with edge-set facing slabs
visible along its lower, south western side. The top of the wall and its
uphill side are largely masked beneath soil and thick peat deposits which have
built up against the bank since its construction. At its south east end,
closest to the hut circles, the wall terminates at a slender slab, 1m long,
now lying flat but considered to have formerly been set on end or edge as a
gate slab. This wall is one of several similar lengths which occur on this
slope beyond this monument, deriving from a prehistoric field system which
incorporated the hut circles and which is now only intermittently visible
through the thick peat deposits that subsequently formed on this hillslope.
Further such lengths of prehistoric wall, incorporating another hut circle in
this settlement, are visible from 155m north of the monument.
Later reuse of the hillside for summer grazing during the earlier medieval
period resulted in a modification of the larger, western, of the hut circles
to form a transhumance hut, a type of herdsman's hut named after the practice
of transhumance, the seasonal movement of stock between separate grazing
zones. The transhumance hut was constructed by partitioning off the
north eastern sector of the hut circle interior with a straight, north west -
south east, heaped rubble wall, 0.5m wide and 0.15m high, extending for 4.5m
from the hut circle wall's east inner side. This wall ends 2.5m before
reaching the northern inner side of the hut circle's wall, leaving the
transhumance hut open-ended to the north west with a maximum internal width of
Beyond the monument, in addition to the other prehistoric walls and hut circle
noted above, further extensive prehistoric field systems and settlement sites
survive at a similar level on the slope from 330m to the SSE and a broadly
contemporary ritual stone circle is located on the broad ridge 490m to the
south east. Two deserted medieval settlements, each with their largely
abandoned field systems, survive on the lower slopes of the valley, from 400m
to the north west and 630m to the south respectively.
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:
CAU/RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey, Unpubl. draft text consulted 1993
consulted 1993, Carter, A./Fletcher, M.J./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2075,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1009,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1009.02,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1009.03,
Saunders, A.D., AM7 scheduling documentation and maplet for CO 615, 1962,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, sheet SX 27 NW Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1907 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.
End of official listing