Prehistoric regular and irregular aggregate field systems incorporating three hut circle settlements, medieval farmhouse and enclosure N of Wardbrook Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1009934
Date first listed: 03-Mar-1977
Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jun-1992
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SX 25455 73349
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
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, field boundaries and enclosures are a major feature of the Moor landscape. Several methods of field layout are known to have been employed in south-west England from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC - 400 AD). These include both irregular and regular aggregate field systems. Irregular aggregate field systems comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking in conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes. By contrast, regular aggregate field systems comprise a collection of field plots defined by boundaries laid out in a consistent manner, along two axes set at right angles to each other. Enclosures are discrete plots of land constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop-growing. Both types of field system and enclosures are bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. They frequently contain small heaps of stone cleared from the surface before or during the plots' use, called clearance cairns, which may form dense concentrations called cairnfields. The field systems and enclosures are often located around or near settlement sites and they sometimes incorporate or occur near ceremonial or funerary monuments. Stone hut circles were the dwelling places of Prehistoric farmers on the Moor, mostly dating from the Bronze Age (c.2000 - 700 BC). The stone-based round houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; remains of a turf or thatch roof are not preserved. The huts occur singly or in small or large groups and may occur in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. Each of these types of monument forms an important element of the existing landscape and is representative of its period. Their longevity of use and their relationships with other monument types provide important information on the diversity of farming practices and social organisation among Prehistoric communities. This monument on Langstone Downs survives well; its substantial walling and earthworks remain clearly visible on the hillside and have been surveyed in detail but not excavated. The monument presents a good range of contemporary inter-related features and contains evidence for a succession of field system types in one sector. Consequently the monument demonstrates well both the nature and the development of agricultural land use during the Prehistoric period. The considerable lynchetting and hillwash deposits present will also preserve old land surfaces and environmental evidence contemporary with these field systems and their associated features.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes two contiguous Prehistoric regular and irregular
aggregate field systems, containing numerous stone hut circles, clearance
cairns and two wall-lined trackways. A large, medieval, ditched enclosure
bank with adjacent foundations of a longhouse are located within the area of
the Prehistoric field systems in the eastern part of the monument. The
monument is situated close to other Prehistoric settlement sites, field
systems and funerary cairns in partly enclosed rough pasture on the southern
slope of the Langstone Downs on SE Bodmin Moor.
The plots of both Prehistoric field systems are bounded by boulder and rubble
walls, up to 2m wide and 0.75m high. Occasional end-set slabs, called
orthostats, are visible along some lengths of walling, especially in the
western half of the monument. The downward movement of soil in the field
plots due to the combined effects of Prehistoric cultivation and gravity on
the steep hillslope has produced a deep build-up of deposits masking the
uphill sides of most boundaries, with a corresponding erosion from the
downhill sides. This process, called lynchetting, has altered the surface
appearance of many boundaries and accentuated their height to form a series of
scarps, the lynchets. They are generally up to 1m high but reaching 2m high
in the regular aggregate field system in the east. The build up has been such
in some parts of the monument as to have completely covered short lengths of
the Prehistoric walling.
The irregular aggregate field system survives over the 20 hectares
encompassing the central and western parts of the monument. Traces are also
visible in the monument's eastern 5 hectares where a regular aggregate field
system was superimposed upon it. Irregular field boundaries reappear in a
small area of steep hillside at the extreme NE edge of the monument beyond the
regular field system. At least forty field plots survive, ranging 0.1 - 0.75
hectares in extent and extending around the hillslope between the 305m and
340m contour levels. Most plots are sub-rectangular with their long axis
corresponding to the contour of the slope, but they display considerable
variation in their overall size and ratio of length to width. Their
boundaries frequently incorporate small stepped or curving irregularities and
several longer curving walls are present. Consequently this field system
presents a disordered network of field boundaries, lacking dominant axes other
than that imposed by the contour of the slope. This field system contains at
least six small mounds of stone rubble cleared from the field plots. These
mounds, called clearance cairns, occur both within the plots and against their
boundaries, mostly in the NW sector of the field system, and range from 2.5 -
5m in diameter and 0.3 - 0.5m in height. Two trackways pass along and through
this field system's plots, each defined by parallel rubble walls, some
lynchetted, 6m - 17m apart. One runs for at least 875m from the northwestern,
uphill, corner of the field system, passing SE along its upper edge to near
the centre of the monument, then descends the hillslope through the irregular
fields and into the regular aggregate field plots to the east. The other
survives as a 90m length along the lower slope south of a small hut circle
settlement near the centre of the monument.
The regular aggregate field system survives in the eastern third of the
monument as at least six sub-rectangular field plots, of 0.35 - 0.7 hectares
each and sharing a dominant SW-NE long axis. The plots are arranged as a
block, three plots long by two plots wide, running SW-NE across the slope.
The lynchetted field boundary along the midline of the block extends as a
boulder and rubble wall for a further 160m uphill beyond the highest field
plots, ending in the natural boulder scree on the SW side of Sharptor. The
north-western plot in this field system has two straight sides created within
the line of a curving wall of the irregular system, while the long trackway of
that field system passes along the southern edge of the same plot. The
trackway re-appears beyond the eastern edge of the regular field plots.
The monument contains at least thirty-two stone hut circles. These survive
with boulder and rubble walls up to 2m wide and 0.75m high, enclosing circular
internal areas ranging 4.5-11m in diameter, levelled into the hillslope. The
hut circle walls frequently show inner and outer facing slabs, while some
preserve entrance gaps facing southerly between SW to ESE and marked in one
case by an end-set slab, called an orthostat, at one side. One hut circle
near the western edge of the irregular system has a rubble-walled concentric
annexe around its southern half. All except nine hut circles are grouped into
three distinct settlements within the field systems, appearing as loose
clusters of 7-10 hut circles each. The settlements are located at the north-
western and central sectors of the irregular field system and at the eastern
edge of the monument between the regular field system and the easternmost
traces of the irregular system. The other nine hut circles are dispersed
among the field plots except for one isolated large hut circle situated within
the long trackway at its upper, north-west, end.
In the east of the monument, a medieval enclosure boundary encompasses an
irregular area of at least 4 hectares centred about the Prehistoric regular
aggregate field system. The boundary survives as a turf-covered earth and
rubble bank, up to 2.5m wide and 0.7m high, accompanied by a ditch up to 2m
wide and 0.3m deep. The ditch runs along the bank's outer side on the
enclosure's northern edge and along its inner side on the eastern edge. The
enclosure boundary merges with modern field walls at both ends, obscuring the
course of its southern side. Within the western edge of the enclosure are the
tumbled drystone foundations of a longhouse, a long rectangular medieval
farmhouse. The wall foundations are 2m wide, surviving to a height of 0.6m,
and comprise two sections: a northern structure, the living quarters,
measuring internally 14m N-S (downslope) by 4m, separated by a 2m cross
passage gap from a southern structure, the stock byre situated downslope for
ease of drainage, measuring 4m north-south by 3m. The western edges of both
structures are over-ridden and masked by a modern dry-stone wall. A 19th
century tin-miners' watercourse, called a leat, passes NW-SE along the
contour through the western part of the monument, as does the slightly
terraced course of a dismantled 19th century mineral railway.
All modern drystone walls, post-and-wire fences, gates, modern farm fittings
and the surface of the dismantled 19th century railway are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath them 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.
Legacy System number: 15096
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Sharpe, A, The Minions Area Archaeological Survey and Management (Volume 2), (1989)
consulted 6/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2573,
consulted 7/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 2473, 2573, 2673,
consulted 7/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 2573 & 2673,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR enry for PRN 1398.16,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entries for PRN 1398.06 & .07,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1263; 1264; 1434,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1274; 1398(NW edge);1428;1464;1465,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1397,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1413,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1416,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1416.06,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1423 (part),
Consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1432,
consulted 7/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1433,
consulted 9/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2474,
consulted 9/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 2473 SX 2474 SX 2573,
consulted 9/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1398,
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