Prehistoric co-axial and regular aggregate field systems with incorporated and adjacent hut circle settlements on Bastreet Downs, south of Bowda Farm


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Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric co-axial and regular aggregate field systems with incorporated and adjacent hut circle settlements on Bastreet Downs, south of Bowda 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)
North Hill
National Grid Reference:
SX 24709 76795

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.

Co-axial and regular aggregate field systems are among the several methods of land division employed on the Moor during the Bronze Age (c.2000 - 750 BC). Evidence from nearby Dartmoor indicates the introduction of co-axial field systems around 1700 BC and their continued use to around 1000 BC. They consists of linear stone banks forming long parallel boundaries running to meet similar, terminal, boundaries crossing their ends. The parallel boundaries frequently run upslope so that the terminal boundaries also separate the enclosed fields from the open grazing of the higher moor, but this pattern may be varied in complex terrain. The extensive long strips formed by the parallel boundaries may be subdivided by cross-banks to form a series of rectangular field plots, each sharing a common long axis. The parallel strips may also be infilled by much finer plot subdivisions, forming subordinate 'neighbourhood' field systems within the overall co-axial field system. Where these smaller scale, contained, field systems comprise plots defined by boundaries at right-angles to each other they come into the category of regular aggregate field systems. These may show evidence for being laid out before, contemporary with, or later than the construction of the co-axial parallel boundaries, and they sometimes show evidence for development by the addition of further blocks or layers of small rectilinear fields within the co-axial system. This co-axial field system, its contained regular aggregate field systems and incorporated and adjacent hut circle settlements have survived well despite some later re-use and partial clearance in the monument's eastern and western sectors. The monument shows clearly the variable intensity of prehistoric settlement within the overall co-axial field system, providing the contemporary context for the well-preserved hut circle settlements contained within it and demonstrating well the nature of land use and farming practices and their relation to the topography during the Bronze Age. The monument is unusual in containing a co-axial field system at a relatively low level and running along a valley side, the significance of which is increased by the adjacent survival, preserved by modern field boundaries, of parts of the broadly contemporary Ridge co-axial field system on an axis at right angles to that in this monument. Together with the Ridge field system, this monument provides a key element in the rare survival of interlocking Bronze Age land divisions extending from a valley floor to the limit of Bronze Age enclosure on the high moor. The partial re-use of some boundaries and areas within the monument during the medieval and post-medieval period illustrates the successive developments in land use since the prehistoric period.


The monument includes the parallel boundaries of a prehistoric co-axial field system, two sectors of which contain broadly contemporary regular aggregate field systems, stone hut circle settlements and two isolated hut circles, in addition to evidence for medieval exploitation of the Downs. One of the regular field systems incorporates one stone hut circle settlement, the other is adjacent to such a settlement. The two isolated hut circles are located adjacent to other boundaries of the co-axial field system. The monument is situated across the southern slope of the Bastreet Downs on eastern Bodmin Moor. The prehistoric co-axial field system is visible as six, near-parallel walls of turf-covered heaped rubble up to 1.5m wide and 0.8m high, running for 1.1km ENE-WSW along the contour of the Downs, the uppermost along the crest of the slope and the lowermost running near to the edge of the valley floor. The walling incorporates occasional edge - and end-set slabs up to 0.9m high. Its walls range from 50m to 110m apart in the eastern half of the monument, where the courses of parts of its wall-lines have been preserved by modern field walls, and converge slightly to range from 35m to over 78m apart at their western ends where recent pasture clearance interrupts them near their original termination at the edge of Tresellern Marsh. An original break in the field system occurs near the centre of the Downs, where the second to fourth lowest walls were not constructed across the densely scree-strewn hillslope. The overall network provided by the co-axial field system was infilled in two sectors by the finer subdividing walls of prehistoric regular aggregate field systems, their boundaries of similar character to those of the co-axial field system. In the monument's south-eastern quarter the lower three co-axial boundaries were linked at intervals of 50m-100m by walling running downslope, NW-SE, forming sub-rectangular plots of 0.3ha-0.7 ha. The western three plots of this field system are further subdivided by walling along and across the contour forming a grid-pattern of plots of 0.06ha-0.2ha, whose pattern reveals their successive formation in blocks, westwards and northwards. The other regular aggregate field system is situated towards the western end of the co-axial field system where subdividing walls between the third and fifth co-axial boundaries from the valley floor create a single row of small rectangular plots, of 0.06ha-0.15ha, along the west, south and east sides of a large rectangular plot, of 0.9 ha, located between the fourth and fifth boundaries. The monument contains two hut circle settlements centred 785m apart. One of these is incorporated in the finely subdivided western part of the south- eastern regular field system. This settlement contains six stone hut circles, distributed as two adjoining pairs situated 70m apart along the contour and two single hut circles, 47m north-west and 35m south-east of the western pair. The western pair is contained within a small sub-triangular plot of 0.04 ha, while the others are located against field boundaries. Each hut circle survives with a wall of heaped rubble, up to 1.25m wide and 0.7m high, defining a circular internal area levelled into the hillslope. The hut circle interiors of this settlement range from 4m to 7.5m in diameter and their walling incorporates occasional edge-set inner and outer facing slabs. Entrance gaps are visible in three hut circle walls, facing variously NW, SW and SE, and marked in one instance by an edge-set slab placed across the wall-line on one side. The other hut circle settlement is located immediately north-west of the surviving western end of the co-axial field system and contains nine stone hut circles distributed as a cluster of eight hut circles, 5m-35m apart over an area of 1 ha, with the ninth situated 62m to the south-east. The hut circles were constructed in a similar manner to those of the other settlement, with internal diameters ranging from 6.5m-10m, and more frequent inner and outer facing slabs along the walling. Entrance gaps are visible in four examples, facing north-west or south-west and marked in one example by end-set slabs, called orthostats, 0.6m high. The two hut circles at the north-east edge of the settlement each have walling for a concentric annexe beyond their eastern halves, while the settlement's western hut circle abuts a small subrectangular levelled plot against its north-west side. Traces of broadly contemporary field walling are located in the intervening areas between these hut circles, including part of one of the upper co-axial boundaries. The monument also includes two separate hut circles situated 72m apart along the contour, close to the upper co-axial boundaries in the modern enclosed pasture fields in the north-east part of the monument; these have been partly robbed of their wall stone by recent clearance but survive with turf-covered rubble walls, up to 1m wide and 0.2m high, defining levelled interiors, 7m- 8m in diameter. The south-west hut circle has a raised sub-rectangular platform, measuring 8m by 6m and 0.4m high, extending from its north-east side. Evidence for medieval exploitation of the Downs, survives in the form of a curving boundary of heaped rubble, up to 1.5m wide and 0.7m high, with a slight outer ditch, which crosses into the north-eastern edge of the monument, causing short breaks in the prehistoric co-axial boundaries where it passes across them. The area contained within this boundary, to its north, shows traces of medieval cultivation ridges. More recent, post-medieval, activity includes the modern field walls that overlie the courses of parts of the co- axial boundaries in the east and south of the monument and a small rectangular stock-pen, measuring internally 3.5m NW-SE by 2.5m wide, and built relatively recently into the northern part of a hut circle wall in the western hut circle settlement. Beyond the monument, modern field walls to the immediate north- west overlie the boundaries of an adjoining prehistoric co-axial field system which is orientated at right-angles to that on the Bastreet Downs and which extends for 1.1km to the north-west over the summit of Ridge hill, incorporating further hut circle settlements and broadly contemporary cairns. All modern post-and-wire and wooden fences, all gates and gate-fittings, the surface of the metalled road to the water works and the electricity supply lines and their posts and fittings are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included. An area of rough terrain in the centre of the monument is not included in the scheduling as no extension to the field system was constructed there.

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
King, G, Sheppard, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Parochial Checklist of Antiquities 10: Parish of North Hill, , Vol. 18, (1979)
consulted 1/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 2476 & Sx 2477,
consulted 1/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 2476-7 & SX 2576-7,
consulted 1/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 2476 & SX 2576,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entries for PRN 1053 & 1055,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1052,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1053,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1054.01,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1054.02,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1055,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3615,
consulted 1/1992, Quinnell, N. V./RCHME, 1:2500 AP Supplementary Field Traces for SX 2476 & SX 2477,
consulted 2/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2476,
Mercer, R J, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 884, 1972,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Maps, SX 27 NW & SX 27 NE Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map Source Date: 1907 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.

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