Prehistoric coaxial and regular field systems, incorporated hut circles and adjacent deserted medieval settlement, droveway and long house on Tregune 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)
National Grid Reference:
SX 22439 79382

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.

Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are a major feature of the Moor landscape. Coaxial field systems are one of several methods of land division employed during the Bronze Age; evidence from nearby Dartmoor, where they are more common, indicates their introduction about 1700 BC and their continued use until about 1000 BC. They consist of linear stone banks forming parallel boundaries running upslope to meet similar boundaries which run along the contours of higher slopes, thereby separating the lower enclosed fields from the open grazing grounds of the higher Moor. The long strips formed by the parallel boundaries may be subdivided by cross-banks to form a series of rectangular field plots, each sharing a common long axis. Coaxial field systems frequently incorporate discrete areas subdivided by other forms of field system and various enclosures, some of which may be shown to have been laid out prior to the construction of the coaxial system. Regular aggregate field systems are one such form, comprising a collection of field plots defined by boundaries laid out in a consistent manner and meeting at approximate right angles to each other. Enclosures are discrete plots of land defined by stone walls or banks of stone and earth, constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop-growing. The size and form of enclosures varies considerably depending on their particular function. Broadly contemporary occupation sites comprising stone hut circles, sometimes grouped to form settlements, may be found both within and beyond coaxial field systems. Stone hut circles were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on the Moor and consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; remains of a turf or thatch roof are not preserved. Hut circle settlements may be contained within a broadly contemporary field system or may be entirely unenclosed, in the open, or may be wholly or partly enclosed by a bank of earth and rubble. The reuse of parts of some coaxial field systems and their adjoining areas during the medieval (c.AD 400 - 1540) and post-medieval periods may result in a variety of earthworks and structures of these later dates overlying and adjacent to the prehistoric monuments. Such later activity is often agricultural, resulting in field boundaries and routeways, together sometimes with remains of farm buildings that serviced this activity. Long houses are one of several distinctive forms of medieval farmhouse. Rectangular in plan, usually with boulder and rubble outer walls, their interior was divided, often by a cross-passage, into an upslope domestic area and a downslope stock byre, known as a shippon in south west England. Long houses may be accompanied by ancillary structures, often serving as fuel stores or occasionally containing ovens or corn-drying kilns. Long houses can date from the 10th - 11th centuries AD, although their main period of construction was during the later 12th - 15th centuries AD. They may occur singly or grouped to form villages, and may be related to the various types of field system and enclosure current in the medieval period. Bodmin Moor contains almost all of the deserted medieval settlements with above-ground remains in Cornwall. Prehistoric and medieval settlements and field systems provide important information on the nature of settlement organisation, social structure and farming activity during their respective periods, while their relationship to other monument types, including linear boundaries and ritual monuments, provides evidence for the wider organisation of land use among their communities. This monument on Tregune Farm contains prehistoric and medieval settlement sites that survive well, the latter with its complete range of ancillary structures and access droveway demonstrating well the organisation of farming activities during the medieval period. The prehistoric settlement preserves extensive parts of its incorporating coaxial and regular field systems together with part of an adjacent, earlier, regular field system showing the nature and development of land use during the Bronze Age. However those field systems themselves are of particular importance in defining the original extent and relationship to the topography of the East Moor coaxial field system, the largest and most complete surviving example of such a prehistoric field system in Cornwall. The proximity of the monument to the wealth of prehistoric settlement, ritual and funerary sites of Fox Tor and East Moor shows the wider context of prehistoric land use in which the monument functioned. The development of settlement types and layout from the medieval period to the present day is demonstrated by the proximity of the monument's deserted medieval settlement to its early post-medieval and 19th century successors, a rare survival of such a sequence which also involved a shift in the farmhouse site. Archaeologically the monument is unusually well-documented, its entire area having been subject to recent detailed air and ground survey, while the neighbouring areas of East Moor have undergone extensive environmental sampling during the 1970's.


The monument includes a prehistoric coaxial field system and adjacent deserted medieval settlement and droveway with adjacent medieval long house, situated across a broad spur projecting north from Fox Tor on eastern Bodmin Moor. The prehistoric coaxial field system incorporates an earlier prehistoric enclosure and is partly infilled by a broadly contemporary regular field system incorporating four stone hut circles. A second prehistoric regular field system adjoins the south western edge of the coaxial field system. The prehistoric coaxial field system in the monument forms the north western visible sector of the East Moor coaxial field system, which survives over 2.9km along the entire north eastern periphery of East Moor and contains two major breaks due to recent enclosure and clearance. This monument includes only that part visible west of its two major breaks, the other surviving parts being included within other schedulings. The coaxial field system in the monument contains four near-parallel rubble walls, called coaxial boundaries, 70m-100m apart, sharing a NNE-SSW axis, and broadly parallel to the coaxial axis in other parts of the East Moor coaxial system. The western coaxial wall bisects an earlier ovoid enclosure, incorporating short lengths of the enclosure wall into staggered junctions where the coaxial boundaries pass across. The enclosure encompasses approximately 0.8ha but its western walling has been destroyed by modern clearance. To the south, the coaxial walls terminate on prehistoric walling of the monument's two regular field systems, while to the north they survive to the limit of modern clearance, though the course of one coaxial boundary was reused for a distance of 100m by the western boundary of the medieval droveway. The coaxial walls survive as largely turf-covered banks of heaped rubble, up to 1m wide and 0.3m high, incorporating occasional end-set slabs, called orthostats, up to 0.7m high, though recent stone clearance in parts of the monument's western sector has removed some orthostats. The southern end of the coaxial field system is partly infilled by a broadly contemporary prehistoric regular field system, with similarly constructed walls, up to 1.6m wide and 0.4m high, with orthostats up to 0.8m high. The regular field system extends over 1ha and is visible as a block of at least seven small rectilinear plots, varying in size between 0.08ha to 0.13ha. They are formed by the subdivision of the coaxial system by further coaxial walls which are between 18m-30m apart. These smaller enclosures are further subdivided by cross-walls linking into the main coaxial boundaries. The north western plot has a curving west wall from the adoption of an earlier enclosure into the pattern. The regular field system incorporates four stone hut circles, the largest situated in one side of the north western plot, the others situated at plot corners to the south and south east. The hut circles survive with heaped rubble walls, up to 1.6m wide and 0.75m high, defining circular internal areas ranging from 5.5m to 9.5m in diameter, levelled into the hillslope. The hut circle walls incorporate inner facing slabs up to 1.75m long and 0.75m high. An entrance gap, facing south west, is visible in one hut circle. The other prehistoric regular field system is located immediately to the west and is visible as four parallel prehistoric walls on a WSW-ENE axis, across the contour, on alignments 50m-70m apart and similarly constructed to those described above. The walls are truncated to the west by modern enclosure leaving only a small surviving remnant; however its significance lies in providing the only instance over the 2.9km of the East Moor field system where its coaxial axis meets and integrates with a regular field system on a different axis. This field system junction is considered to define the original north western extent of the East Moor coaxial field system, corresponding with a marked change in the topography of the moor at this point: the moor's north east edge becomes deeply indented and the dominant axis of the coaxial field system would no longer conform to the slope axis. The northern three of the regular system's four parallel boundaries meet and terminate on coaxial boundaries. The southern two of the four parallel walls are also earlier than the coaxial boundaries: the southern wall is clearly robbed of stone on its approach to the other regular field system, while 10m of the next parallel wall to the north is adopted into the course of one of the coaxial walls, causing a marked step in the line of the latter. The medieval droveway defines the eastern edge of the surviving area of prehistoric remains and survives over the full 800m of its shallow 'S-shaped' course. It links the monument's deserted medieval settlement to the north east with the open moor to the south where its funnel-shaped entrance is a typical arrangement designed to concentrate stock driven from the moor. The droveway is defined along each side by an earth and stone bank, up to 2m wide and 0.75m high, bordered along the droveway's inner side by a ditch, completely silted in places but still visible up to 1.5m wide and 0.3m deep elsewhere. Part of the droveway's western bank reuses a prehistoric coaxial wall-line as noted above, while the eastern droveway bank in its southern and central sectors and both banks in the northern sector are surmounted by modern hedgebanks. The droveway width, bank to bank, ranges from 7m near its southern end to 50m in its north western sector where it flares to adopt the prehistoric wall line. In its northern sector, 130m before reaching the medieval settlement, the droveway flares again to accommodate a partly cleared northern branch, beyond the monument, leading to a fording point on the River Lynher. The medieval settlement survives as a nucleated group of structures and yards covering 0.2ha at the north east end of the droveway. It contains a central single long rectangular farmhouse of a distinctive type called a long house, surviving with a rubble walling, up to 0.7m wide and 1m high, defining a levelled internal area measuring 17.5m SW-NE by 3m wide. A rubble-edged step, 0.25m high, across the north eastern third of the interior marks the site of the cross-passage that separated the uphill domestic quarters from the lower cattle byre. Similar walling defines four smaller long rectangular ancillary buildings, centred respectively 9m and 24m south east of the long house, 28m to its south west and 20m to its north west and ranging from 2m long by 1.5m wide to 10m long by 4.5m wide. Rubble walling also defines two small garden plots, of 0.01ha each, extending from the long house's north west wall, and a small sub-triangular yard, of 0.015ha, 20m east of the long house. Beyond the monument the successive early post-medieval and 19th century farmhouses from which this land has been farmed are situated 230m to the south. The monument's other deserted long house is situated 3m beyond the west side of the droveway's central section on the crest of the spur. It stands alone, without ancillary structures, and survives with a wall of contiguous edge-set slabs, 0.3m-0.8m high, with traces of a similar inner row, giving a wall 0.9m wide. The wall defines a long rectangular internal area measuring 20m NNW-SSE by 6m wide. The SSE end lacks any surface trace of a closing wall, while the building's north west corner is rounded. A row of contiguous, turf-level stones marks the site of the cross-passage, separating the NNW 8.5m of the interior from the remainder of the building. Beyond the monument are the extensive prehistoric settlement sites, field systems, ritual and funerary monuments, together with medieval long house settlements and cultivation ridging on Fox Tor and East Moor. All modern gates, gate fittings and post-and-wire fences are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath 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
Austin, D, Gerrard, G A M, Greeves, T A P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Tin And Agriculture Landscape Archaeology In St Neot Parish, , Vol. 28, (1989)
CAU/RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey, Unpubl. draft text consulted 1993
consulted 1992, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2279,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2278-9,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047.01,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047.02,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047.03,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047.04,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1048,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1048.1,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1091,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1106,
pp.227-231; p.233, PRN 3382, CAU, Bodmin Moor Cornwall. An Evaluation for the MPP., (1990)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, sheet SX 27 NW Source Date: 1984 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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