Blacktor Downs irregular aggregate field system and clearance cairn


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011725

Date first listed: 04-Sep-1991


Ordnance survey map of Blacktor Downs irregular aggregate field system and clearance cairn
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 13:53:46.


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 15577 73475, SX 15613 73532


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 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 late industrial remains provides significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time. Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are some of the major features of the Bodmin Moor landscape. Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have been employed in south-west England from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c 2000 BC - 400 AD. They comprise a collection of field plots generally lacking conformity of orientation and arrangement, often containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. They are often focussed around or near settlement sites, and they sometimes incorporate, or occur near, ceremonial and funerary monuments. Their longevity and their various relationships with other monument types provide important information on the diversity and development of social organisation, land use 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 field system on the Blacktor Downs is reasonably well preserved and lies in close proximity to broadly contemporary hut circle settlements, enclosures and a cairn group. The relationship of the field system with these other features is of particular note because in places its layout respects their location whilst elsewhere it overlies elements of them. This demonsrates well the chronological development of these various features and the pattern of changing Prehistoric settlement and land use in this area of the moor.


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


The monument includes the boundaries of two curving, irregular Prehistoric fields, the upper containing a stone-clearance cairn, on a SW-facing hillside in central Bodmin Moor. It is divided into two separate constraint areas. This field system comprises the low, wavering, stone-bank boundaries of two fields, one immediately below the other, and both curving with the contour of the hillside. The upper field, which survives for 150m along the contour by 80m wide, extends further SE than the lower field, surviving 97m along the contour and 80m wide. Both fields have soil build-up - called lynchetting- against and largely covering their downslope boundaries as a result of early cultivation. The upper field contains a small circular mound, 4.5m diameter and 0.75m high, partly turf-covered and formed of small boulders and smaller stone, called a clearance cairn. Both fields have their NW ends truncated by modern field intakes, and the presence of lynchetting along the upper bank of the upper field indicates the former presence of a third, higher, Prehistoric field in the summit area also affected by recent pasture improvement. These fields are located on the upper SW-facing slope of the Blacktor Downs, within 125m of a large, Prehistoric, unenclosed hut circle settlement, and close to a small cairn group and hut circle on the summit plateau of the Blacktor Downs. The modern drystone intake walls to the NW and NE of the field system are excluded from the scheduling where they impinge on the protected area, but the land beneath them 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: 15035

Legacy System: RSM


00, 3/1988, Raymond, F, Monument Class Description: Irregular Aggregate Field Systems, (1988)
consulted 1/1991, Carter, A/RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 1573 (cons. 1/1991),

End of official listing