The Louden Stone Circle, 950m ENE of Camperdown 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. Breward
National Grid Reference:
SX 13206 79494

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 circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Single upright stones may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of stones radiating out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may also be found close to and on occasion within the circle. Stone circles are found throughout England, although they are concentrated in western areas, with particular clusters in upland areas such as Bodmin and Dartmoor in the south-west and the Lake District and the rest of Cumbria in the north-west. This distribution may be more a reflection of present survival rather than an original pattern. Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). It is clear that they were designed and laid out carefully, frequently exhibiting very regularly spaced stones, the heights of which also appear to have been of some importance. We do not fully understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies that used them. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided a focus for burials and rituals that accompanied interment of the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping mark the passage of time and seasons, this being indicated by the careful alignment of stones to mark important solar or lunar events such as sunrise or sunset at midsummer or midwinter. At other sites the spacing of individual circles throughout the landscape has led to a suggestion that each one provided some form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. Of the 150 or so stone circles identified in England sixteen are located on Bodmin Moor. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

The Louden Stone Circle has survived reasonably well and has not been excavated. Despite some attention from stone robbers, the interior of the stone circle has had no evident or recorded disturbance and will preserve its old land surface intact beneath the peat, which will also seal the sockets marking the original positions of the robbed and recumbent slabs. It is one of the largest stone circles in Cornwall and is unusual in having several clear points of relationship, in form and intervisibility, with two other broadly contemporary stone circles nearby. Its proximity to those other stone circles and to the broadly contemporary funerary and settlement sites on Louden Hill demonstrates well the organisation of ritual activity, burial practices and farming during the Bronze Age.


The monument includes a prehistoric stone circle, known as the Louden Stone Circle, situated on top of a broad ridge extending south west from Louden Hill on north west Bodmin Moor. The Louden Stone Circle is visible as a near-circular arrangement of at least 26 granite slabs, five of which remain erect, the others lying flat in the thick peaty turf covering the area of the monument. Three of the recumbent slabs are considered to be broken fragments of neighbouring slabs. The plan of the stone circle measures 45.5m north-south by 43m east-west, though its original deviation from true circularity cannot be determined from surface evidence alone due to the toppling of many constituent slabs. The surviving erect slabs range from 0.4m to 1m high, the largest slab being in the southern sector and leaning to the south; it would be 1.4m high if vertical. A small stump, 0.1m high, is located in the ESE sector. The lengths of the recumbent slabs fall within the same range and are generally under 0.75m long. The slabs in the southern, western and northern sectors of the circle are generally spaced 3m-5m apart, with minor variations due to the directions in which the recumbent slabs fell and with some larger gaps due to subsequent stone robbing. Stone robbing has had a more marked effect on the eastern sector of the circle, with gaps in the visible sequence of slabs of 24m and 14m in the ENE and ESE sectors respectively. The original number of stones in the circle has been estimated at between 33 and 39. This stone circle is situated on the top of the south western ridge of Louden Hill, at one of the few points from which two other broadly contemporary stone circles can be seen on the lower ground of the moor: the Stannon Stone Circle, 0.8km to the north west and the Fernacre Stone Circle, 1.33km to the north east. These three stone circles form an unusually closely-spaced group, and are also distinctive as being amongst the largest stone circles in Cornwall, containing a large number of constituent slabs. The Louden Stone Circle is also situated close to a large area containing numerous broadly contemporary funerary and settlement sites extending from 70m to the north east on the western slopes of Louden Hill.

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:


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982)
Barnatt, J, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Lesser Known Stone Circles in Cornwall., , Vol. 19, (1980)
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot for SX 1379,
Consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1978,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Pathfinder Series 1338 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.

End of official listing

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