Nine Stones stone circle 1.03km NNW of Bowhayland Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Nine Stones stone circle 1.03km NNW of Bowhayland Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
North Hill
National Grid Reference:
SX 23611 78143

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 Nine Stones stone circle has survived reasonably well, despite the partial reconstruction during the later 19th century. It is one of the smallest stone circles in Cornwall and its location, on a broad natural shelf surrounded by higher land, typifies the setting of many stone circles. Its proximity to broadly contemporary funerary and settlement sites demonstrates well the nature of ritual activities and their relationship to agricultural settlement during the Bronze Age.


The monument includes a prehistoric stone circle situated on a broad level shelf on the lower north west slope of Ridge hill on eastern Bodmin Moor, near broadly contemporary funerary monuments and prehistoric field systems.

The stone circle is visible as a setting of eight granite slabs, ranging from 1m to 1.3m high and up to 1.05m wide by 0.35m thick, their bases spaced 4m to 6.5m apart about a near-circular course 15m in diameter. All of the slabs have eroded surfaces and edges, showing no traces of dressing. One slab has been removed from the circle since its depiction on maps of 1884, and a second missing slab was noted in 1889, these leaving a gap of 11.5m in the northern sector. The site of one of these slabs is indicated by a surface hollow measuring 2m east-west by 1.5m north-south slightly within the circular course in its NNE sector. The north eastern stone has fallen over outwards but the remaining stones are erect, with packing stones and slabs visible about most of their bases. A ninth erect stone, situated slightly south east of the circle's centre, is a relatively recent parish boundary stone, one of a line of such stones that extends beyond the monument to the ENE and south west marking the boundary between North Hill and Altarnun parishes. This stone is 1m high, 0.35m wide and 0.22m thick, differing from the other slabs in having sharp, angular edges and barely weathered surfaces.

This stone circle was recorded and partly reconstructed by the local land- owner and antiquary, F R Rodd, in 1889, involving the re-erection of the circle's six slabs that had, by then, fallen and the re-erection and slight re-siting of the fallen parish boundary slab near the centre.

Beyond this monument are extensive and broadly contemporary field systems and settlement sites on Ridge hill, reaching to within 400m of the monument to the south east and north east, while the prominent Clitters Cairn is visible on the skyline, 540m to the east.

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
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982), 190-2
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976), 7,115-6
3/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 2377; SX 2477; SX 2478,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2377,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1059,
consulted 3/1992, CCRA SMR Register entry for SX 27 NW 16,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1020; 1021; 1030,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1108,
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.

End of official listing

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