Earlier Prehistoric hillfort, adjacent round cairn with incorporated shelter, and tor cairn on Tregarrick Tor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009698

Date first listed: 04-Jun-1992


Ordnance survey map of Earlier Prehistoric hillfort, adjacent round cairn with incorporated shelter, and tor cairn on Tregarrick Tor
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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. Cleer

National Grid Reference: SX 24212 71167

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.

Earlier Prehistoric hillforts are large fortified settlement sites dating to the Neolithic period (c.3500 - 2000 BC). They may be recognised by single or multiple stone-rubble walls or earthen banks enclosing all or part of a hilltop. The boundaries often vary in size, incorporate numerous small entrance gaps and commonly include substantial natural rock outcrops and scarps in their circuit. Ditches, sometimes also with intermittent breaks, occasionally accompany the enclosing banks. The hillfort enclosures, up to 10 hectares in extent, usually contain cleared and levelled house platforms, funerary cairns and occasional stone hut circles. The few recent excavations on this class of monument have revealed numerous internal timber and stake-built structures and pits associated with large quantities of undisturbed Neolithic settlement debris including animal bone, charcoal, flint artefacts, pottery and stone tools. Many of these finds or their raw materials were originally brought to the hillforts from considerable distances away and excavations have also produced evidence for warfare at some sites. Extensive outworks are associated with most of these hillforts, either roughly concentric or connecting a series of related enclosures. Under twenty Earlier Prehistoric hillforts are known nationally, concentrated in the uplands of south-western England from the Cotswolds and Dorset to west Cornwall, with a very few isolated examples elsewhere in S England. They are a very rare monument type, highly representative of their period as one of the major sources of information on social organisation and interaction during the Neolithic. Consequently all Earlier Prehistoric hillforts that are not extensively damaged will be of national importance. Their hilltop locations frequently also form the sites of various types of cairn, funerary and ceremonial monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000 - 700 BC) Round cairns were constructed as mounds of earth and stone rubble, up to 40m diameter, sometimes bounded by a kerb of edge-set stones. Burials were placed in small pits or occasionally within a stone box-like structure called a cist, let into the old ground surface or dug into the body of the cairn. Tor cairns display a more clearly ceremonial aspect, constructed as a ring bank of stone rubble, up to 35m in external diameter and roughly concentric around a natural rock outcrop or tor. In some cases a kerb of edge-set stones bounds the inner edge of the bank. The area between the bank and the outcrop was sometimes infilled by laying down a platform of stone rubble or turves. Excavated examples have revealed post-holes and pits within the area defined by the ring bank, some containing burial evidence, and scatters of Bronze Age artefacts concentrated around the central tor. Tor cairns are very rare nationally with only 40-50 known examples, concentrated on the higher moors of Devon and Cornwall. Both round and tor cairns provide important information on the diversity of beliefs, burial practices and social organisation during the Bronze Age and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.

The Earlier Prehistoric hill fort and adjacent cairns on Tregarrick Tor have survived well and have not been excavated. Only minor and very limited disturbance is evident, from the construction of a small shelter in the round cairn and the natural slippage of the stack into the tor cairn's platform. The proximity of the monument to a major Prehistoric ritual area and to broadly contemporary settlement sites and field systems demonstrates well the developing pattern of land use and the diversity of ritual practices during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.


The monument includes a small earlier Prehistoric hillfort containing numerous house platforms, with a round cairn and tor cairn adjacent to its western edge. The round cairn incorporates a recent shelter. The monument is situated on the summit of Tregarrick Tor on SE Bodmin Moor and is located near extensive Prehistoric settlement sites on the Tor's lower slopes and close to a major area of Bronze Age ritual monuments on Craddock Moor on SE Bodmin Moor. The hillfort is largely defined by an enclosure wall of heaped stone rubble which exhibits occasional edge- and end-set stones, called orthostats, especially in its NE sector. The wall survives up to 2m wide and 1m high, but varies considerably in height and width along its course. It encloses almost the entire perimeter of an ovoid 0.5 hectare area measuring 95m NE-SW by 82m NW-SE, encompassing the summit outcrops and surrounding plateau of Tregarrick Tor. Small gaps in the enclosure wall occur at its southern and north-eastern sides, marking probable entrance sites, but the wall's only major break is located in the northern half of the hillfort's north-west side, which is there defined by the craggy northern face of the Tor's main granite outcrop and by the outer limits of the cluster of house platforms to its north-east. The wall veers at several points to incorporate earth-fast boulders and small rock outcrops in its course. The interior of the hillfort contains over 35 small sub-circular areas ranging from 3m to 7m in diameter, cleared of stone and levelled where situated on a slope, forming platforms for Prehistoric timber round houses and associated structures. The house platforms form two dense clusters, one in the north-eastern third of the interior and the other in its central southern sector. A boulder wall, of similar size and partly- orthostatic construction to the enclosure wall, extends for 125m NE from the SE side of the enclosure, forming a broadly contemporary outwork from the hillfort. This outwork follows the crest separating the fairly level saddle between Tregarrick Tor and Craddock Moor from the long steep slope to the SE. The round cairn survives as two almost semi-circular mounds of stone rubble heaped against the western and north-eastern faces of the major granite outcrop on the summit of Tregarrick Tor. The two parts of the cairn are separated by a narrow rock ridge which drops steeply to the foot of the tor from the NW side of the outcrop. The western part of the cairn's mound measures 16m NNW-SSE along the face of the outcrop and extends 7m from it, rising to a maximum height of 1.75m. The cairn overlies the natural boulder spread extending west from the tor and several large ground-fast boulders project from its mound rubble. The cairn's perimeter is well-defined by the change from its mound's consolidated rounded stone content, up to 0.4m across, to the angular and ill-sorted rubble, with large crevices and gaps, which has eroded naturally from the tor. The course of the hillfort's enclosure wall runs up to the SW edge of the cairn's mound. A hollow, 0.75m deep and typical of medieval and later herdsman's shelters, has been created near the northern end of this mound. It occupies the 3m wide space between two projecting boulders and extends 2m from the tor face. The shelter's western side has been reinforced by a very rough cobble wall, 0.5m high, built between the two boulders. The north-eastern part of the mound has a similar composition and situation relative to the outcrop's natural erosion features. It measures 11m NW-SE along the outcrop's face and extends for 6.5m from it, rising 1.75m high. The upper surface of this mound's rubble forms a level platform, 1m wide, against the rock face. The tor cairn is constructed around the northern end of a small subsidiary outcrop projecting 3m high from the SW edge of the summit plateau of Tregarrick Tor. The cairn survives as an approximately semi-circular bank of heaped stone rubble concentric about the western, downslope, side of a natural stack of rounded granite slabs forming the outcrop's NW tip. The rubble bank is up to 6m wide, 1.5m high, has a diameter of 18m NNW-SSE and extends to 10m downslope from the stack. The southern end of the bank terminates against the vertical face of the outcrop. To the north it ends on a slight north-south scarp along which runs the hillfort's enclosure wall on the SW edge of the summit plateau. The inner edge of the bank, west of the stack, has two groups of contiguous orthostatic slabs, up to 1.8m long and 1.25m wide. The northern group, of five slabs, is concentric with the bank's edge and leans markedly towards the stack. The southern group, of three vertical slabs, is arranged radially across the bank's inner edge and is separated by a gap of 3.5m from the northern group. Between the bank's inner edge and the face of outcrop with its stack is a level turf-covered platform, 3.5m - 5m wide and noticeably free of surface rubble. The only disturbance evident at this cairn is the natural collapse of two of the stack's slabs into the eastern edge of the cairn's inner platform.

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: 15088

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Mercer, R J, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Excavations At Carn Brea, Illogan, Cornwall, , Vol. 20, (1981), 1-204
Miles, H, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Barrows on the St Austell Granite, Cornwall, , Vol. 14, (1975), 5-81
Silvester, R J, 'Prehistoric Dartmoor in its Context. DAS Jubilee Conference Proc' in The Rel of 1st Millen Settlement to the Upland Areas of the SW, , Vol. 37, (1979), 176-190
6/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions: SX 2370, 2371, 2470, 2471,
7/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions SX 2370; 2371; 2470; 2471 (con 7/1991),
7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1234,
7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1281 & 1361,
7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1361,
Consulted 6/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1277,
Consulted 6/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1278 (Consulted 6/1991),
Consulted 7/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions, SX 2370, 2470, 2471,
Consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1243, 1244, 1245, 1246, 1251, 1357,
Consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 12709,
Consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1278,
Consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1278.1,
Consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1281,
Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3384 (Consulted 7/1991),
Release 00, Darvill, T, MPP Monument Class Description for `Tor Cairns' (Release 00), (1989)

End of official listing