Prehistoric ritual enclosure 1.7km NW of Tresellern Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012217

Date first listed: 17-Feb-1993


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric ritual enclosure 1.7km NW of Tresellern Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Altarnun

National Grid Reference: SX 22214 77842


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.

Ritual enclosures, in forms and settings inappropriate to agricultural activities, are a frequent element among concentrations of funerary and ceremonial monuments dating to the later Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (c2400 - 1600 BC). In addition to their physical proximity to such ritual areas, they also commonly share details of construction with such Prehistoric ritual monuments, including definition by banks, ditches, spaced stones, pits or posts. Prehistoric ritual enclosures vary considerably in form; those with more regular shapes, such as stone circles, henges and linear enclosures known as cursuses, comprise separate and well known classes of monument in their own right, but a small number of less regular forms are also known in similar settings and modes of construction. These may be individual expressions of the regular forms or represent other monument classes, such as the `mortuary enclosures' where the dead were kept before burial. We do not fully understand the uses for which these monuments were constructed but it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies that used them. Due to their idiosyncratic form, they provide important information on the diversity and nature of ritual activities among Prehistoric communities. Although no figure is available for the number of such enclosures outside the regular forms, it is clear that they comprise a very small proportion of the total number of ritual enclosures. Because of their rarity and extreme diversity, all surviving examples for which a Prehistoric date can be demonstrated will be considered worthy of protection.

This ritual enclosure on East Moor is unique in Cornwall and has survived well, with little of its area affected by the recent hollowed route-ways passing through. Its mode of construction is shared by many later Neolithic/Early Bronze Age ritual monuments, particularly some of the slighter stone rows of south-west England, while its setting, in the saddle of a hillslope surrounded on most sides by higher land, is entirely typical of Prehistoric stone circles. The considerable antiquity of this monument is further evidenced by the depth to which it is embedded into the peat, which will also preserve the buried land surface and environmental evidence contemporary with the monument's construction and use. The proximity of this enclosure to a concentration of broadly contemporary funerary and ceremonial monuments demonstrates well the diversity of ritual activity and the nature of upland land use during the later Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.


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


The monument includes a Prehistoric ritual enclosure situated in a slight saddle on the north-west spur of the central hill of East Moor on eastern Bodmin Moor. The enclosure forms one element of a local concentration of broadly contemporary ceremonial and funerary monuments. The ritual enclosure is visible as a `D'-shaped area of 0.13 hectares, measuring 44.7m along its NNW-SSE long axis by a maximum 35m ENE-WSW along the flattened NNW side. The enclosure is situated in an otherwise stone-free area and is defined by a single, wavering, line of 42 small end-set stones, spaced 0.75m to 2m apart and generally projecting 0.1m above the thick peaty turf and 0.1m across, but up to 0.25m high and 0.4m across. At least a further 41 surviving stones along the enclosure boundary are lightly covered beneath vegetation hummocks. The thicker peat deposit at the north-west sector of the enclosure has obscured the stones over a distance of 17m. Beyond this monument, the nearby sites broadly contemporary with this ritual enclosure include a stone alignment, whose SSW slab is 135m to the south-east, and two platform cairns, one associated with a second stone alignment, situated on the summit of the hill, 187m and 270m to the south-east respectively. The enclosure is crossed by two parallel modern hollowed routeways across the moor, each 2m wide and 0.3m deep, averaging 16m apart on a NE-SW axis.

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: 15192

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Darvill, T C, 'Vorda Research Series' in The Megalithic Chambered Tombs of the Cotswold-Severn Region, (1982), 106,112
consulted 1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2277,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1088,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1088.1,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1089,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1101,
pp142-3. Spaced-stone enclosure, CAU, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. An Evaluation for the MPP. (RE SM15192), (1990)

End of official listing