The Louden Stone Circle, 950m ENE of Camperdown Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008331
Date first listed: 14-Jun-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
Parish: 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: 15287
Legacy System: RSM
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