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Prehistoric entrance grave 900m north west of Tregiffian Farm

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 entrance grave 900m north west of Tregiffian Farm

List entry Number: 1013665

Location

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

County:

District: Cornwall

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: St. Buryan

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 09-Dec-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Feb-1996

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 15409

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

Entrance graves are funerary and ritual monuments dating to the later Neolithic, Early and Middle Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC). They were constructed with a roughly circular mound of heaped rubble and earth, up to 25m in diameter, the perimeter of which may be defined by a kerb of edge-set slabs or, occasionally, coursed stone. The mound contains a rectangular chamber built of edge-set slabs or coursed rubble walling, or a combination of both. The chamber was roofed by further slabs, called capstones, spanning the walls. The chamber was accessible via a gap in the mound's kerb or outer edge and often extends back beyond the centre of the mound. Excavations within entrance graves have revealed cremated human bone and funerary urns, usually within the chambers but on occasion within the mound. Unburnt human bone has been recovered but is only rarely preserved. Some chambers have also produced ritual deposits of domestic midden debris, including dark earth typical of the surface soil found in settlements, animal bone and artefact fragments. Entrance graves may occur as single monuments or in small or large groups, often associated with other cairn types in cemeteries. Entrance graves are one of several forms of chambered tombs found in western Britain and adjacent areas to the south, including the Channel Islands and Brittany. In England, entrance graves are confined to the extreme south west, with 79 of the 93 recorded surviving examples located on the Isles of Scilly and the remaining 14 located in Penwith peninsula at the western tip of Cornwall.

This entrance grave near Tregiffian survives substantially intact despite the levelling of part of its mound; even over the levelled area, the road makers' disturbance will not have affected sub-surface remains similar to those already demonstrated elsewhere beneath the mound. Excavations in the remainder of the mound have been of limited extent, producing evidence to elucidate the form and development of this monument while leaving most of the mound undisturbed. As one of the few entrance graves on the mainland, its low-lying situation between hills is unusual, as too are several details of its construction. These include the re-modelled kerb with its blocking arrangement beyond the chamber entrance and the large portal slabs constricting the entrance itself. The cup marks on the eastern portal slab are a rare expression of earlier prehistoric ritual carving, and are here located well outside the national focus of their distribution. The presence of this monument within a local concentration of broadly contemporary funerary and ritual monuments demonstrates well the nature and organisation of religious activities among prehistoric communities.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a large prehistoric entrance grave situated 2.5km south east of St Buryan, near the southern coast of the Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall. The entrance grave is in the care of the Secretary of State. The entrance grave survives with a sub-circular mound of earth and rubble, 15m in diameter, within which is a peripheral kerb and a funerary chamber in its south west quadrant. The mound's north western third has been levelled by the course of a modern metalled road, from which the visible `D'-shaped mound extends up to 9.25m to the south east. The truncated north west face of the mound is revetted by a modern granite rubble facing. The kerb is located 1.75m-2m within the mound's perimeter, visible as a curve of edge-set slabs on the south west and south, plus a single large slab, 2.15m long, at the south east. The kerb slabs maintain an almost level upper edge but their exposed height rises to 0.75m on the south due to a drop in the height of the mound periphery. This more prominent southern sector of the kerb is located directly beyond the funerary chamber entrance and, slightly offset from the entrance, it incorporates an unusually large slab, 1.95m long and 0.7m high, flanked to each side by a tall narrow slab, an arrangement considered to denote a deliberate symbolic blocking of the chamber entrance. Within the kerb, the mound has an asymmetrical shallow-domed surface, rising to 1m high towards the western edge. Immediately east of the highest point, the south western quarter of the mound contains the funerary chamber. Internally, the chamber measures 4.9m along its NNE-SSW long axis by up to 1.9m wide, with the entrance at the SSW. The chamber walls combine roughly coursed slabs and rubble together with large edge-set slabs, up to 1.45m long and 0.9m high, whose upper edges are levelled up with smaller slabs to give a chamber height of 0.9m. The chamber's intact NNE walling shows the chamber sides bulge out slightly in plan, but the SSW walling has suffered some stone-robbing, obscuring original detail. The chamber is roofed by massive slabs, called capstones, spanning the chamber width. Four capstones survive, up to 2.85m long, 1.5m wide and 0.3m thick: three remain in place over the NNE end of the chamber while the fourth has collapsed behind the chamber entrance and now lies tilted on the floor. The chamber's entrance is constricted by two edge-set `portal' slabs, 0.8m apart, with two smaller slabs fallen into the gap between them. The portal slabs are offset from the chamber's midline in the same manner as the blocking arrangement in the outer kerb. The western portal slab has a plain surface. By contrast, the eastern portal slab, 0.75m high and 1.15m wide, has its southern face entirely covered by a network of 25 circular and ovoid carved hollows, up to 0.6m deep, constituting a rare form of prehistoric rock carving called cup marks. The cup marked slab now at this monument is a cast of the original, which has been removed for safekeeping to the Royal Institution of Cornwall Museum, Truro. Immediately beyond the southern perimeter of the mound lies a large slab, 1.9m long by 1.15m wide, considered to have been displaced from this entrance grave during relatively recent disturbance. Documentary sources indicate that the now-levelled north western sector of this entrance grave was disturbed by road makers in the 1840's. In 1871, the monument was partly excavated by the antiquary W C Borlase, who found abundant ashes and bone fragments both above and below the fallen capstone near the chamber entrance, together with a flint flake above the capstone. Under another slab beneath the southern end of that capstone he records a small pit lined with shell and sand, and filled with bone and ashes. Further excavations in 1967-68 and in 1972 indicated that this entrance grave was built in two phases: the mound was originally surrounded by a circular kerb which was later reduced in size to the present more irregular plan that incorporates the blocking in front of the chamber entrance. In the chamber floor these excavations revealed more bone fragments and two pits - the one opened by Borlase, and a second pit containing an intact funerary collared urn. Artefactual debris from before the monument's construction was also recovered from an old land surface beneath the mound. The entrance grave is located in a slight saddle between low hills, in an area containing a localised concentration of broadly contemporary funerary and ritual monuments. Beyond this monument these include, from 125m to the south east, cairns and small funerary cists - slab-built box-like structures in which burials were deposited. Nearby prehistoric ritual monuments include a stone circle called the Merry Maidens situated 225m to the ENE, within sight of this entrance grave and formerly accompanied by a second stone circle even closer to this monument. The Merry Maidens circle is associated with several standing stones, one of which, the Goon Rith menhir, is 110m north west of this monument. Prehistoric settlement evidence, in the form of a scatter of flint artefacts, has also been recorded from 60m south east of this monument. The English Heritage girder supporting the northern capstone, the roadside post and the surface of the metalled road are excluded from the scheduling but the ground 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982)
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982)
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982)
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982)
Borlase, W C, Naenia Cornubiae, (1872)
ApSimon, A, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Excavation News, 1971-72; Tregiffian Barrow, St Buryan, (1972)
ApSimon, A, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Excavation News, 1971-72; Tregiffian Barrow, St Buryan, (1972), 56
Dudley, D, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Excavation News, 1967-1968; Tregiffian, St Buryan, (1968), 80
Dudley, D, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Excavation News, 1967-1968; Tregiffian, St Buryan, (1968)
Hartgroves, S, 'Cornish Archaeology' in The Cup-marked Stones of Stithians Reservoir, , Vol. 26, (1987), 69-84
Morris, R W B, 'Proc Preh Soc' in The Prehistoric Rock Art of Great Britain: a Survey etc, , Vol. 55, (1989), 45-88
Other
Bowman, A, MPP Monuments Class Description for 'Cup and Ring Marked Stone', (1990)
CAU, MPP Cornwall County evaluation list for cup-marked stones, (1993)
consulted 1994, CAU, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 28194,
consulted 1994, CAU, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 28221,
consulted 1994, CAU, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 28242,
consulted 1994, DoE/HBMC, Ancient Monuments Terrier for CO 666; Tregiffian Burial Chamber, (1984)
consulted 1994, DoE/HBMC, Ancient Monuments Terrier for CO 666; Tregiffian Burial Chamber, (1984)
consulted 1994, Saunders, AD, AM7 for CO 666; Burial Chamber NW of Tregiffian, (1968)
consulted 1994, Saunders, AD, AM7 for CO 666; Burial Chamber NW of Tregiffian, (1968)
Entry No 28192, CAU, MPP Cornwall County evaluation list for Entrance Graves, (1993)
Entry No 28192.2, CAU, MPP Cornwall County evaluation list for cup-marked stones, (1993)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map: SW 42 SW Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Guardianship Deed Plan accompanying AM Terrier for CO 666; Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Drawn c1971; consulted 1994

National Grid Reference: SW 43045 24429

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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End of official listing