Tor cairn on Newel Tor, 1.5km north of Siblyback Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1011314
Date first listed: 11-Nov-1993
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Feb-2019 at 11:27:46.
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 23639 74128
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 relationships 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. Tor cairns are ceremonial monuments dating to the Early and
Middle Bronze Age (c.2000-1000 BC). They were constructed as a ring bank of
stone rubble, up to 35m in external diameter, sometimes with an entrance and
an external ditch, 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
and 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 usually occur as isolated monuments, though several
are associated with broadly contemporary cairn cemeteries. They are very rare
nationally with only 40-50 known examples concentrated on the higher moors of
Devon and Cornwall, where their situation in prominent locations makes them a
major visual element in the modern landscape. As a rare monument type a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
This tor cairn on Newel Tor has survived well with no evident or recorded disturbance. The proximity of this tor cairn to the broadly contemporary settlement sites and field systems on the eastern slopes of Newel Tor and in the Withey Brook valley demonstrates well the organisation of land use and the relationship between ceremonial and farming activities during the Bronze Age.
The monument includes a prehistoric tor cairn situated on the summit of Newel
Tor on Siblyback Moor, south-east Bodmin Moor.
The tor cairn is located against the northern side of a small granite stack
that forms the eastern summit outcrop of Newel Tor. A rough wall of large,
contiguous, single slabs, up to 0.75m high, extends over 4m in a curve across
a natural angular recess in the stack's northern face. Concentric with the
northern face of the stack and the slab-built wall is an almost semi-circular
rubble bank, up to 1.7m wide and 0.4m high, incorporating occasional larger
slabs and mostly turf-covered. The bank crosses the gentle slope north of the
stack and measures 15m east-west externally, terminating at each end where it
meets the natural boulder scree at the scarp to the outcrop's steeper southern
slope. At its midpoint, the outer edge of the bank is 4.7m beyond the northern
face of the stack and its incorporated slab-built wall. This leaves a level,
turf-covered zone, 3m wide, between the bank's inner edge and the stack.
This tor cairn is situated some 175m west of broadly contemporary prehistoric
settlements, field systems and linear boundaries on the eastern slopes of
Newel Tor and in the Withey Brook valley.
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: 15242
Legacy System: RSM
consulted 1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2374,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1238,
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