Prehistoric embanked avenue with incorporated funerary cist 210m WNW of Showery Tor
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1011501
Date first listed: 15-Sep-1993
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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 14728 81380
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.
Embanked avenues are ritual monuments which in all cases are associated with other classes of ceremonial and funerary monuments dating to the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c.2500-1600 BC). They contain two near- parallel open-ended elements, either in the form of stone or timber uprights or as banks constructed of stone rubble or earth, sometimes ditched. They range from 64m to 2.34km long and their courses are variously straight or sinuous. Both of the avenues recorded on Bodmin Moor are formed from stone banks incorporating end-set stones and lacking ditches. Excavations of this monument class elsewhere have revealed associated stone- and post-holes and small pits, both within and outside the avenue's boundaries. Some of the pits contain burials, pottery, bone and flint or antler tools. The functions of avenues are poorly understood. Their consistently close association with, and respect for, other Bronze Age ritual monuments indicates a related purpose, while several avenues are directly aligned on stone circles. Under twenty avenues are known nationally, largely in central southern England together with the two examples on Bodmin Moor and isolated examples in Nottinghamshire, North Yorkshire and Northumberland. Of these, several are now destroyed and known only from antiquarian sources. Funerary cists are one of the several forms of Bronze Age burial monument with which avenues are associated. They are box-like structures of stone slabs in which burials were placed. They range from 0.75m to over 2m long and may occur within or beneath funerary cairns or, less frequently, as free-standing monuments, either set into the ground surface or standing partly proud of it. Of at least 33 known cists on Bodmin Moor, only three are not wholly or partly covered by a cairn. Burials may include skeletal remains or cremations, the latter sometimes contained within funerary urns, and are occasionally accompanied by grave goods, including pottery vessels, tools, weapons and beads. Both avenues and funerary cists are rare and long-lived monument types contributing important information on the diversity of ritual and funerary practices during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. The avenue with its incorporated cist on Showery Tor has survived well and has suffered only minor and well-defined disturbance from recent stone-robbers and tracks. This is the westernmost avenue recorded nationally and it contains one of only three cists lacking a cairn on Bodmin Moor. The incorporated relationship of the cist with the avenue is extremely rare and demonstrates the broader relationship between ritual and funerary practices during the later Neolithic and Bronze Age. The proximity of the monument to the earlier Neolithic hillfort, to the broadly contemporary tor cairn on Showery Tor, and to the field systems and cairns on the lower slopes shows well the organisation of land use and its development in the prehistoric period.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a prehistoric ritual embanked avenue, incorporating a
small funeray cist, situated on the western slope of the summit of Showery Tor
on north-west Bodmin Moor, near broadly contemporary cairns, settlement sites
and field systems.
The embanked avenue is visible as two banks of heaped rubble, each up to 3.5m
wide and 0.5m high, which follow a wavering but near-parallel course,
generally 2m to 8m apart, extending over 120m up the western slope near the
summit of Showery Tor. The avenue curves slightly from an east-west axis
along its western third, adopting a WNW-ESE axis over its eastern third and
bringing its alignment directly on the distinctive natural outcrop and
surrounding cairn on the summit of Showery Tor. The rubble banks incorporate
occasional edge-set slabs, up to 1m high, and frequent leaning slabs placed
against the bank's outer faces. Occasional gaps, up to 2m wide, occur in each
bank, sometimes accompanied by small rubble spreads, the result of limited
episodes of relatively recent stone-robbing and breaks caused by tracks
running along the hillside below the summit of the Tor. The wavering course
of each bank mirrors that of the other bank causing them to converge and
diverge. This produces three distinct sectors where the avenue's banks, in
plan, bulge out to each side, these sectors each occupying approximately one
third of the avenue's length. The western end of the western sector is almost
closed by the banks curving towards each other, leaving only a narrow gap 1m
apart. The eastern end of the avenue's eastern sector is open, the rubble
banks separated by a gap of 8m. The constriction separating the western and
central sectors is marked across its western end by a slight slope down to the
west and across its eastern end by a low bank of surface rubble. The funerary
cist is situated within the line of the southern bank at the constriction
separating the central and eastern sectors of the avenue. It survives as a
box-like structure containing three edge-set slabs, 0.6m to 1m long and 0.3m
to 0.6m high, forming its south-west, north-west and south-east sides,
defining a sub-rectangular internal area measuring 1.3m NW-SE and 0.5m NE-SW.
The north-east side of the cist is not closed by a surviving slab.
Beyond this monument, a large and broadly contemporary tor cairn, 136m to the
ESE, encircles the summit outcrop of Showery Tor, on which this avenue is
aligned. An earlier, Neolithic, hillfort is located on Roughtor, 320m to the
south, while the lower north-west slope of the Shower Tor-Roughtor ridge, 55m
to the west, contains extensive traces of a broadly contemporary prehistoric
field system on which a dispersed and varied group of funerary cairns were
later constructed. These cairns appear to post-date the partial dismantling
of the field system which occurred after a change in the prehistoric land use
of the area.
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: 15215
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976)
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 1481,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey and explanatory overly for SX 1481 SE, (1984)
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entries for PRN 3292-3,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1401,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3287-8,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3296,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3298,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3298.1,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3307,
consulted 5/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3384,
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