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.
Long houses are one of several distinctive forms of medieval farmhouse.
Rectangular in plan, usually with boulder and rubble outer walls and with
their long axis orientated downslope, the interior of long houses was divided
into two separate functional areas, an upslope domestic room and a downslope
stock byre, known in south-west England as a shippon. The proportions
occupied by the domestic and shippon areas vary considerably but the division
between the two, and their access, was usually provided by a cross-passage of
timber screens or sometimes rubble walling, running transversely through the
long house, linking opposed openings in the long side-walls. Excavation
within the domestic areas of long houses has revealed stone hearths, cooking
pits, benches, postholes for internal fittings and medieval artefacts.
Excavation within the shippon areas has revealed stone built drains, usually
along the central axis, and paving and edging slabs defining mangers. Long
houses may be accompanied by ancillary buildings, separated slightly from the
farmhouse itself, or by outshuts, attached to the long house and often
extending one end of the structure. These additional structures sometimes
served as fuel stores and occasionally contained ovens or corn drying kilns.
The earliest known long houses date to the 10th to 11th centuries AD, but
their main period of construction was during the later 12th to 15th centuries
AD. The tradition was largely superseded by other plan forms in the post-
medieval period though some long houses continued to be occupied, with
subsequent alteration and additions. Long houses are known throughout
northern, western and southern England, but have been longest recognised as a
distinctive plan form in south-west England. As the standard type of medieval
farmhouse plan in the south-western uplands, they may occur singly or grouped
to form villages and may be associated with the various types of field system
and enclosure current in the medieval period.
On Bodmin Moor, of the 33 deserted medieval settlements known to contain long
houses, 17 include only a single long house, displaying a considerable
diversity of associations with contemporary ancillary structures, field system
types and enclosures. This diversity provides important information on the
nature of settlement organisation and farming activity during the medieval
This long-house and its adjacent enclosure has survived well, despite some
stone-robbing in limited sectors of the long-house wall. The long-house has
not been excavated but retains unusually good surface evidence for a range of
features, including the careful preparation of the site, its cross-passage
entrance, shippon drain, outshut and ancillary building with door slabs. The
adjacent cultivation plot remains virtually unaffected by subsequent
modification and combines with the long-house as a rare intact survival of one
form of medieval farmstead in the remoter parts of the Moor. The contrast
between this small but complete medieval economic unit and the broadly
contemporary large long-house settlement and field system on Brown Willy
nearby to the south, demonstrates well the adaptability of the long-house form
and diversity of settlement and farming practices during the medieval period.
The monument includes a deserted medieval long-house with a single adjacent
cultivation plot situated in a remote position on the lower eastern slope of
Showery Tor in the upper valley of the De Lank River on north-west Bodmin
Moor. A medieval tin-miner's leat crosses the plot and a post-medieval peat
stack platform is situated adjacent to the plot's south-west corner.
The long-house is visible as the surviving lower wall courses of a rectangular
building with a WNW-ESE axis, built on a prepared, almost levelled, plot cut
deeply into the hillslope. The slope from this levelling cut runs 1.5m beyond
the long-house's NNE wall and 2.5m beyond its WNW wall, where the scarp rises
1.25m high. The long-house walling is of unmortared coarsed rubble, surviving
up to 1.3m wide and 0.8m high, incorporating edge-set slabs up to 0.9m long
and rising to 1.2m high. The walls define an internal area 7m long and 4.2m
wide. Some stone-robbing subsequent to the long-house's desertion has removed
some parts of the walling above the foundations in the northern and southern
walls, but even there the wall line remains visible either as foundation
rubble in the surface or as turf-covered scarps. An entrance gap, 0.6m wide
and faced on its ESE side by a transverse wall-slab, is located at the centre
of the southern wall. At the centre of the ESE wall, two edge-set transverse
slabs, 0.6m apart, mark the passage through the wall of a drain to remove
slurry from the lower, cattle-byre, end of the long-house. A narrow annexe,
measuring 3.5m NNE-SSW by 1.2m WNW-ESE externally, is defined by a wall of
edge-set slabs up to 0.6m high against the WNW end of the long-house. A
rectangular ancillary structure is situated 2m beyond the long-house's ESE
wall. Built of similar unmortared coursed rubble and slab walling, up to 0.6m
wide and 0.6m high, this structure measures 4m NNE-SSW by 1.5m WNW-ESE
internally. Two door-slabs, each 1.4m long and 0.5m wide, have fallen
outwards from the centre of the ESE wall.
The cultivation plot is situated from 17m east of the long-house on the gentle
ESE-facing slope near the valley floor. The plot is visible as a sub-
rectangular enclosure of 0.25 hectares, measuring 60m ENE-WSW by 47m NNE-SSW
internally. It is defined by an earth-and-rubble bank up to 1.5m wide and
0.7m high, with an outer ditch up to 2m wide and 0.5m deep. The bank's rubble
includes a small millstone roughout, 0.6m in diameter, visible in the surface
at the plot's north-east corner. The WNW side of the plot passes through an
area of dense natural surface stone which was used to replace the bank with a
wall of coursed and edge-set slabs up to 2m wide and 1m high in that sector
only. The interior surface of the plot contains cultivation ridges running
downslope on a WNW-ESE axis.
A medieval tin-miners' water course, called a leat, passes through the
cultivation plot on a WNW-ESE axis, parallel to and 10m from the plot's NNE
bank. The leat is visible as a slight ditch, up to 0.75m wide and 0.2m deep,
which ends to each side of the plot's WNW boulder wall, but which cuts through
the bank of the plot's ESE side. Beyond this monument, the leat extends
downhill from a source 275m to the WSW on the saddle between Showery Tor and
Roughtor, and continues south-east beyond the plot for over 35m to the
medieval tin workings which it served along the floor of the De Lank River.
The post-medieval peat stack platform, used for the storage of cut peat, is
located immediately adjacent to the plot's SSW ditch at its south-west corner.
It is visible as a rectangular earthwork with a central platform, measuring
6.5m east-west by 2.5m north-south, level with the ground surface and defined
by a ditch, 0.8m wide and 0.2m deep. Outside the ditch is an earthen bank,
0.8m wide and 0.2m high, whose northern edge runs along the edge of the
cultivation plot's ditch.
Beyond this monument,another isolated medieval cultivation plot is located
330m to the SSW, while the outer walls of the extensive medieval field system
associated with a deserted medieval settlement on Brown Willy straddle the De
Lank valley downstream from 600m to the south.
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.