Medieval transhumance hut on Draynes Common, 500m south-west of Westerlake Farm
- 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. Neot
- National Grid Reference:
- SX 21296 71388
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. Transhumance huts are small, seasonally occupied huts which
were built to provide shelter for herdsmen who tended animals grazing summer
pasture on uplands or marshland. These huts reflect a system called
transhumance, whereby stock was moved in spring from lowland pastures around
the permanently occupied farms, to communal upland grazing during the warmer
summer months. Settlement patterns reflecting transhumance are known from the
Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) onwards. However the construction of herdsmen's
huts in a form distinctive from the normal dwelling houses of farmers only
appears from the early medieval period onwards (from 450 AD), when the
practice of transhumance is also known from documentary sources, notably
place-name studies. Their construction generally comes to an end by the 16th
century. Transhumance huts may measure up to l0m long by 5m wide externally,
but are commonly much smaller, and may occur singly or in groups. They have a
simple sub-rectangular or ovoid plan normally defined by drystone walling,
although occasional turf-built structures are known, and the huts are
occasionally surrounded by a ditch. Most examples have a single, undivided
interior, but two-roomed examples are known. Some transhumance huts have
adjacent ancillary structures, such as pens, and may be associated with a
midden. Some are also contained within a small ovoid enclosure. Other upland
activities, including mining and hunting, in some instances, may have produced
similar shelters, employing the same construction tradition. At least 250
transhumance huts are known nationally, of which at least 50 are recorded from
Bodmin Moor, although this figure is expected to increase with future
recognition. Transhumance huts represent a significant component of the
surviving remains of medieval upland settlement and farming practices during
the medieval period. Those examples which survive well and which help
illustrate the use of land in the medieval period are considered worthy of
This transhumance hut on Draynes Common has survived well and is at the upper end of the known size range for this class of monument. Such intact earth-and-peat walled structures are rare on the Moor, usually only inferred from remains of their slight rubble base or sometimes collapsed facing rubble. The proximity of the monument to broadly contemporary tin-miners' excavations and the medieval and later peat platforms demonstrates well the manner of exploitation of this upland terrain during the medieval period.
The monument includes a medieval herdsman's shelter, called a transhumance
hut, situated at the head of a small valley on the north-east side of a broad
ridge occupied by Draynes Common on southern Bodmin Moor.
The transhumance hut survives with a turf-covered bank of earth and peat, up
to 1m wide and 0.5m high, defining a rectangular internal area measuring 6.5m
NE-SW by 4.5m NW-SE. The interior is raised 0.1m above the surrounding ground
surface and is not levelled into the slope. The transumance hut has an
entrance gap 2m wide in its north-east wall against the eastern corner.
Beyond the monument, medieval tin-miners' excavations extend north-west and
SSE from the head of the valley, passing from 10m to the north-west. Medieval
and later exploitation of the thick peat deposits around the head of the
valley and on the top of the ridge has resulted in a scatter of peat storage
platforms from 30m to the west.
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 2171,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1349,
Information told to MPP fieldworker by Peter Herring, CAU, (1993)
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