Unenclosed hut circle settlement, field boundaries, enclosure and cairn on Blacktor Downs


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011701

Date first listed: 17-Mar-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 06-Nov-1991


Ordnance survey map of Unenclosed hut circle settlement, field boundaries, enclosure and cairn on Blacktor Downs
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Jan-2019 at 21:27:12.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Neot

National Grid Reference: SX 15584 73416, SX 15692 73267


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 quality and diversity of the evidence is such that the moor has been the subject of detailed archaeological survey and hence it forms one of the best recorded upland landscapes in England. Of particular note are the extensive relict landscapes of Prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date. Together these provide direct evidence for human expoitation of the moor from the earliest Prehistoric period onwards. The well-preserved and often visible relationship betweeen 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. Stone hut circles and hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of Prehistoric farmers on Bodmin Moor, mostly dating from the Bronze Age, after around 2000 BC. The stone-based round houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; remains of the turf or thatch roof are not preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. Although they are common on the moor, their longevity and their relationship with other monument types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst Prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

The monument at Blacktor Downs is especially well-preserved and of particular importance in containing one of the largest and most extensive of such settlements on Bodmin Moor, an importance enhanced by its unusual internal arrangement and subdivisions, by its inclusion of enclosures, land boundaries and a cairn, and by its broadly contemporary association with a nearby Prehistoric field system and cairn cemetery, making this monument particularly valuable in the study of Bronze Age settlement and agricultural organisation.


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


The monument includes a large unenclosed hut circle settlement with associated boundaries and an enclosure of Prehistoric date, and two small medieval building foundations, covering in total a 5ha area on a S-facing hillslope in the middle of Bodmin Moor. It is divided into two separate constraint areas. The occupation area of the settlement itself covers 3.7ha and contains over 100 circular huts ranging from 3.5m to 7.5m in internal diameter, variously built with single or double granite boulder walls and entrances facing southerly orientations. Some huts are conjoined to others and many are linked by lengths of curvilinear boulder walling, forming an agglomeration, within the settlement, of small irregular enclosures with peripheral and contained huts; one discrete small ovoid enclosure containing a hut circle also occurs towards the S part of the settlement. At least seven huts have narrow concentric annexes around part of their periphery. At the W edge of the settlement are two small sub-rectangular enclosures, one immediately below the other on the hillslope and each containing a hut circle built into its wall. A massive-boulder wall, double-faced in places, runs NE-SW down the hillslope 20m W of the enclosures, and parallel to their W side, marking the division between the concentrated settlement features and a Prehistoric field system to the N and W. This wall has a gap of 52m between its SW and NE sections. The NE part of the settlement includes a cairn comprising a hut-circle structure roughly infilled by large boulders. A large elliptical enclosure, 105m by 55m, with a low boulder wall of similar character to those in the settlement but largely buried beneath the turf, occurs on the lower hillslope SE of, and immediately below, the settlement and is linked to it by a short length of walling from its NW side. The settlement is located between 240m and 260m contour lines on a well-drained S-facing hillside overlooking a small tributary of the Warleggan River in central Bodmin Moor. Two rectangular boulder-wall foundations, each using part of a Prehistoric enclosure wall for one long side, provide evidence for renewed activity within the settlement in the medieval period, probably associated with stone-working or tinning in nearby areas. Apart from the Prehistoric field system close to the settlement on the N and NW sides, the monument is also associated with a small cairn cemetery and a hut circle on the summit plateau of the Blacktor Downs. The modern post-and-wire fence along the SE side of the elliptical enclosure is excluded from the scheduling but the land beneath it 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: 15028

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 102-3
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 76-7
Consulted 1/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1758,
Consulted 1991, Carter, A/RCHME, 1:2500 Air Photo Transcription; SX 1573, (1991)
Forthc.; seen 1/1991; Figs 38.5, 46, CAU, RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey (Volume 1) (Figs 38.5, 46), The Prehistoric and Historic Landscape,
Forthcoming; draft text consulted, CAU, RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey (Volume 1), The Prehistoric and Historic Landscape,
Plate 16, Greeves, T A P, The Archaeology of Dartmoor from the Air, (1985)

End of official listing