Early medieval transhumance hut 740m west of Blackcoombe Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1011899
Date first listed: 01-Dec-1992
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Feb-2019 at 20:41:27.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SX 26126 74036
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.
Transhumance huts are small, seasonally occupied herdsman's huts built to provide shelter while tending herds grazing summer pasture on uplands or marshland. These huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby stock was moved in spring from lowland pastures about the permanently occupied farms to communal upland grazing during the warmer summer months. Settlement patterns reflecting transhumance are known from the Bronze Age (c2000 - 700 BC) onwards, but the construction of herdsman's huts in a form distinctive from the normal dwelling houses of farmers only appears from the early medieval period onwards (from AD 450), when the practice of transhumance is also known from documentary sources, notably place-name studies. Their construction generally comes to an end by the 16th century. Transhumance huts are typically small, up to 10m long by 5m wide externally, but commonly much smaller, and may occur singly or in groups of over 15. They have a simple sub-rectangular or ovoid plan, normally defined by dry stone walling though occasional turf-built structures are known, and the huts are occasionally surrounded by a ditch. Most examples have a single, undivided interior, though some two-roomed examples are known. Some transhumance huts have adjacent ancillary structures, such as pens, and may be associated with a midden. Some are also contained within a small ovoid enclosure. Other upland activities, including mining and hunting, may in some instances have produced similar shelters, employing the same construction tradition. At least 250 transhumance huts are known nationally of which at least 50 are recorded from Bodmin Moor, though this number is expected to increase with future recognition. Transhumance huts represent a significant component of the surviving remains of medieval upland landscapes, providing important information on the nature of settlement and farming practices during the medieval period. Those examples which survive well and which help illustrate the use of land in the medieval period are considered worthy of protection.
This transhumance hut on the Langstone Downs has survived well, with no visible or recorded disturbance. Its proximity to Prehistoric land boundaries and field systems, and to a broadly contemporary enclosure nearby in the valley, demonstrates well the nature of farming practices and the development of land use from the Prehistoric to the medieval periods.
The monument includes a small, sub-rectangular transhumance hut situated
uphill from a large medieval enclosure and close to an extensive Prehistoric
field system on the northern slope of the east spur of the Langstone Downs on
SE Bodmin Moor.
The hut survives with turf-covered walls of heaped rubble, up to 1m wide and
0.5m high, defining a levelled sub-rectangular area measuring internally 2m
east-west by 1.4m north-south. An entrance gap, 1m wide, takes up most of the
wall's eastern side. This hut is typical of early medieval stock-herders' huts
on Bodmin Moor occupied during summer pasturing of stock on the uplands, the
result of the seasonal movement of herds called transhumance.
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: 15162
Legacy System: RSM
consulted 7/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2674,
Forthcoming; draft text consulted, CAU, RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey (Volume 1), The Prehistoric and Historic Landscape,
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