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Prehistoric irregular field system and enclosures with incorporated stone hut circle and incorporated and adjacent cairns 558m north-west of Showery Tor

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Prehistoric irregular field system and enclosures with incorporated stone hut circle and incorporated and adjacent cairns 558m north-west of Showery Tor

List entry Number: 1011577

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: Cornwall

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: St. Breward

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 08-Sep-1993

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 15211

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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 field, 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 irregular aggregate field systems which comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking in conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes. Enclosures are discrete plots of land constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop-growing. Both irregular field systems and enclosures are bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. They are frequently associated with small heaps of stone, usually 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. The settlement sites typically include stone hut circles, which were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on the Moor, mostly dating from the Bronze Age (c.2000 BC - 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 or stone. Round cairns also date to the Bronze Age and are funerary monuments covering single or multiple burials. They were constructed as mounds of earth and rubble up to 40m in diameter but usually much smaller; a kerb of edge-set stones sometimes bounds the edges of the mound. Burials were placed in small pits, or on occasion within a box-like structure called a cist, set into the old ground surface or dug into the body of the cairn. Round cairns can occur as isolated monuments or in small groups or larger cemeteries. 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 organisation of farming activities and on the nature and diversity of funerary practices among prehistoric communities. This monument on the north-west slope of Showery Tor survives well, with only minor and limited disturbance from the actions of recent stone-robbers. The monument's walling and cairns remain clearly visible on the hillside and have been surveyed in detail. The monument contains rare visible evidence for a sequence of land-use changes affecting one area during the Bronze Age. The incorporation of field systems, hut circles, enclosures and funerary cairns into that sequence demonstrates well the nature and development of farming practices, the diversity of burial monuments and the relationship between farming and funerary activities during the Bronze Age. The proximity of the monument to other broadly contemporary field systems, settlement sites, linear boundaries and cairns preserves unusually intact the wider context within which those important developments and relationships in the monument were formed. The considerable lynchetting and deep peat deposits present in parts of the monument will preserve old land surfaces and environmental evidence contemporary with its sequence of construction and use.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric irregular aggregate field system on which two later prehistoric enclosures were superimposed, one of the enclosures incorporating a stone hut circle. The walling of both the field system and enclosures was partly dismantled in prehistoric times, creating a small cairnfield and seven round funerary cairns. The monument is situated near other broadly contemporary cairns, settlement sites, field systems and linear boundaries on the north-western slope of the Showery Tor ridge on north-west Bodmin Moor. The prehistoric field system is defined by walling of heaped rubble, up to 1.5m wide and 0.3m high, and is visible as a central irregular pentagonal plot. Incomplete lengths of walling from neighbouring plots extend for up to 40m south-west from its western edge and north from its northern edge, continuing as buried features in deep hillslope peat deposits. The central plot encompassed approximately 1.5 hectares but survives, encroached upon by the later enclosures to the east and west, obscuring its full earlier extent. The western sector of this plot also contains partly cleared traces of similarly slight rubble walling defining contiguous small irregular plots of c.0.04 hectares, each curving across the slope. The two later enclosures are defined by more massive walling of heaped rubble, up to 3m wide and 0.5m high, and are situated 100m apart, cutting across the earlier plot's western and eastern boundaries, which were cleared from the enclosure interiors. The two enclosures are each sub-rectangular, the western encompassing 0.4 hectares and the eastern, 0.55 hectares. Their western, downhill, walls have a considerable build-up of soil against their uphill sides resulting from the combined effects of prehistoric cultivation and gravity on the slope, a process called lynchetting. The eastern enclosure contains a single stone hut circle, situated 4m east of its western wall. The hut circle is visible as a wall of heaped rubble, up to 1.25m wide and 0.3m high, defining a circular internal area 4.5m in diameter. The walls of both the earlier field system and the enclosures were partly dismantled and cleared, leaving breaks in their walls, during a second change in land-use during the prehistoric period. The rubble resulting from dismantling the earlier walling was gathered together in two ways. Over a 0.3 ha area at the southern end of the earlier irregular plot, the rubble was heaped to form at least twelve very small mounds, called clearance cairns, up to 3.5m in diameter and 0.3m high, some touching each other and several situated along short remnants of the former southern wall of the irregular plot. Such an aggregation of small clearance cairns is called a cairnfield. Elsewhere in the monument the rubble was heaped into larger discrete mounds whose size, and in some cases, visible structural features, indicate that they were round funerary cairns. Seven such cairns are visible, surviving as near- circular mounds of heaped rubble, ranging from 5.5m to 16m in diameter and rising to a maximum 1.2m high. Relatively recent stone robbing has produced shallow hollows in the upper surface of all of their mounds. The funerary cairns are loated on or near the walls of the two sub-rectangular enclosures and are accompanied by partial or complete removal of the portions of those walls adjacent to them. The western enclosure has two cairns; one, 6.5m in diameter and 0.5m high, is situated near the centre of its eastern wall; the other, 16m in diameter and 0.4m high, is located on its north-east corner and is formed as a low platform on which relatively recent stone- robbing has revealed several slabs from a peripheral kerb on the platform. The remaining cairns are located about the eastern enclosure. The cairn on its north-east corner measures 5.5m in diameter, rising 0.5m high, and has a double kerb of edge-set slabs projecting around the upper surface of its mound, the outer kerb measuring 2.9m in diameter. A cairn 7m in diameter and 0.3m high is situated 10m beyond the enclosure's north-west corner, also on the line of the earlier irregular plot's wall. Another cairn, 6.75m in diameter and 0.7m high, is situated 14m within the enclosure's south-west corner, while at the corner itself a cairn measuring 8.5m in diameter and 1.1m high has a 6m wide lobe of heaped rubble, 0.8m high, extending westwards for 7m along the line of the enclosure wall to a ground-fast boulder at the corner. A large cairn, 15.5m in diameter and up to 1.2m high, is situated beside the enclosure's south-eastern walling. Beyond this monument, traces of the early irregular field system re-appear 30m to the west and south-west, while further broadly contemporary funerary cairns are situated 30m away to both north and south. Extensive and broadly contemporary hut circle settlements are situated on the lower slope 210m to the south-west, while a major prehistoric linear boundary runs up the slope, passing 15m south-west of the monument.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Harris, D, Trudgian, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in The Excavation Of Three Cairns At Stannon, Bodmin Moor, , Vol. 23, (1984)
Other
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 1573,
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 1481,
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 transcriptions for SX 2278-9,
Consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:100 survey of cairn, PRN 3288.8,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey, SX 1481 NE,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey, SX 1481 NW,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey, SX 1481 NW/NE,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.03 - .09,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.1,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.11,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.3,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.6,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.7,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.8,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.9,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3293,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3299.2,
consulted 10/19991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3299.1,
conversation at CAU, Truro, 27/5/1992, Peter Rose, CAU SFO, pref. interpretn. in discussion with MPPFW, (1992)
Cornwall SMR for PRN 3288.5,
platform cairn with peripheral bank, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1404,

National Grid Reference: SX 14530 81701

Map

Map
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End of official listing