Prehistoric hut circles and enclosure, 470m south of Rushyford Gate
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1018628
Date first listed: 23-Oct-1998
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
Parish: St. Cleer
National Grid Reference: SX 22461 75792, SX 22532 75796
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. Stone hut circles were the dwelling places of prehistoric
farmers on the Moor, mostly dating from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). The
stone-based round houses survive as low walls or banks enclosing a circular
floor area; remains of a turf or thatch roof are not preserved. The huts occur
singly or in small or large groups and may occur in the open or be enclosed by
a bank of earth and stone. Although they are common on the Moor, their
longevity of use and their relationship with other monument types provides
important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming
practices among prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative
of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection.
The hut circles and enclosure 470m south of Rushyford Gate survive reasonably well and display clearly their form and manner of construction; despite some limited disturbance from forestry ploughing and small scale excavation, their internal occupation deposits will remain substantially undisturbed. Despite the incomplete survival of their associated enclosure's walling, those remaining sectors preserve intact several of the critical junctions between the hut circles and enclosure. They also provide valuable field evidence to confirm and complement the early records and aerial photographs in giving an understanding of the hut circles' contemporary setting and enabling their identification as an early stage in the complex sequence of prehistoric to post-medieval land use that has produced a very extensive survival of settlement, field system and funerary remains along the north east side of Smallcoombe Downs.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes four spaced stone hut circles towards the northern
edge of Smallacoombe Downs on south east Bodmin Moor. Three of the hut circles
adjoin surviving walling of a contemporary enclosure. The scheduling is
divided into two areas of protection.
The hut circles are spaced 17m-70m apart as a WSW-ENE line across 130m of the
Downs' north easterly midslope south of Rushyford Gate. Each has a circular or
slightly ovoid interior, partly levelled into the slope and defined by a
rubble wall showing inner or outer facing to varying extents.
The westernmost hut circle's wall measures 10m north east-south west by 8.5m
north west-south east externally with outer facing slabs 0.4m-1.1m long and to
0.4m high; the wall is generally 1m wide but is cut at intervals by four
forestry plough furrows, spreading some rubble into the dished levelled
interior. From the south west edge of the hut circle wall a line of boulders
and slabs extends 7m across the forestry plough ridges, a survival from a
formerly more extensive prehistoric enclosure wall which is visible on pre-
forestry aerial photographs as extending south west and north east from the
The largest of the hut circles, 70m to the east measures 15.5m SSW-NNE by 15m
WNW-ESE externally, its rubble wall ranging 2m-3.5m wide and 0.1m-0.7m high. A
short length of roughly coursed outer facing is visible on the north and some
inner facing slabs on the north west. The interior measures 10.5m north east-
south west by 8.5m north west-south east; despite some levelling, it retains
a gentle slope. Two lengths of prehistoric enclosure wall extend from this
hut circle. One is a rubble bank 0.7m wide and 0.2m high, extending 8m NNE
from the hut circle's NNE edge. The other is of similar size but much longer
and often incorporates edge-set slabs to 0.25m high; it extends east from
the hut circle and after 15m the enclosure wall curves round to the head NNW
for 50m, then curves again to head west for 70m before its surviving course
As this long enclosure wall curves to the NNW, it passes the west side of the
next hut circle to the east; its wall is 1.2m wide and 0.3m-0.4m high, well
defined from the east to north and NNW of the 4m diameter dished interior but
with more intermittent wall rubble elsewhere. On the east, the two small
coursed slabs form part of the wall's inner facing, while on the north east is
an outer facing slab 0.25m high.
The easternmost hut circle has a 5m diameter levelled interior defined by a
rubble and slab wall to 1.5m wide, to 0.6m high externally and 0.45m high
internally, with an inner and outer facing of edge-set slabs and roughly
coursed rubble. A small rectangular hollow behind the north wall derives from
a limited archaeological excavation in 1963 prior to afforestation, and minor
disturbance to the south east and south west walling results from incursions
of forestry plough furrows.
Early records and aerial photographs show that these hut circles were formerly
associated with more extensive walling of a discrete multi-lobed prehistoric
enclosure on the surrounding slope; that walling beyond this scheduling has
been extensively damaged or destroyed by subsequent forestry operations. In
their wider context, these hut circles and their associated enclosure are
located in the north west of a zone of distinctive early prehistoric
settlement encompassing the north eastern flank of the Downs and comprising
scattered hut circles, often similarly associated with small rounded
enclosures or discrete aggregations of curvilinear field plots. Later in the
prehistoric period, this settlement pattern influenced and became partly
incorporated into an extensive regular rectilinear field system that occupies
much of the Smallcoombe Down's lower north eastern slope along the valley of
the Withey Brook. That field system in turn was much later reused and modified
as the basis for medieval exploitation of the lower valley side from the
villages above Trewortha Marsh and at Smallacoombe Parks.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 15536
Legacy System: RSM
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1065, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1065.06, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1065.07, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1065.09, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1065.11, (1990)
Drawn to accompany EH Management Plan, Hooley, A D, 1:2500 Smallacoombe Downs survey plan on Ordnance Survey/ Landline Map base, (1998)
RAF, RAF vertical air photo; ref 36 TUD UK 137 part III, photo 5254, (1946)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27 SW Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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