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Prehistoric to post-medieval field systems, boundaries, settlements and railway at Smallacoombe Parks and north eastern Siblyback Moor

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 to post-medieval field systems, boundaries, settlements and railway at Smallacoombe Parks and north eastern Siblyback Moor

List entry Number: 1018631

Location

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

County:

District: Cornwall

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: St. Cleer

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 15-May-1935

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Oct-1998

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 15540

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

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.

The extensive survival of archaeological remains contained within prehistoric to post-medieval remains on the south east slopes of Smallacoombe Downs and north eastern Siblyback Moor provides excellent evidence for the sequence of land use over about four millenia of human activity, with important implications relating to the social, economic and wider landscape organisation of the human communities involved. The remains from each phase in that sequence survive sufficiently clearly and on a scale large enough to display the developing pattern of economic organisation of this remote upland area. The medieval and post-medieval settlement remains also show clearly their layout and typify the development of many settlements in upland valleys. The extensive reuse and adoption of earlier features within the prehistoric and later periods not only permits analysis of the overall sequence but it also illustrates well the complex mix of continuity and innovation that underlies the physical pattern of land use in each phase. In their wider context, the features in this scheduling have additional importance in providing an unusually complete view of the prehistoric and later land use sequence across a hillslope and down to a valley floor, supplementing a similar profile of survival beyond this scheduling on the north eastern flank of the downs; overall this considerably complements our understanding of the range of broadly contemporary monuments in the area whose surviving focus tends to lie outside the valleys. Although the scheduling's features show some disturbance from forestry operations, these have only affected limited areas and in most of those. Subsequent aerial photographic work, both before and during the modern forestry, also considerably complements our knowledge of the extensive field remains in this scheduling.

History

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

Details

The monument includes successive prehistoric to post-medieval field systems, boundaries and settlements at Smallacoombe Parks on the south east of Smallacoombe Downs on south east Bodmin Moor. The field systems and boundaries extend south east onto Siblyback Moor. The scheduling includes parts of a 19th century railway trackbed that pass across earlier features. The scheduling is divided into two areas of protection. In the west of Smallacoombe Parks, on the Downs' south flank, a large block of prehistoric plots rises north west upslope for up to 195m. Much of its core is overlain by a block of medieval fields with hedgebanks that are constructed of stone robbed from earlier walls nearby, but to the north east, prehistoric walls subdivide the earlier block into plots elongated downslope, 8m-22m wide by 17m-70m long, the smallest plots on the lower slope. A similar pattern reappears south west of the medieval block but with longer and broader plots. North east of this prehistoric block, two large rectangular plots extend to a prehistoric linear boundary that runs SSE across a valley and onto the north east of Siblyback Moor, continuing beyond this scheduling and modified in places as a medieval wall and post-medieval hedgebank. Its north end joins the lower end of a second prehistoric boundary rising WNW up the Down's east slope for 210m, its course interrupted by boulders on the upper slope; above this it meets another prehistoric boundary running SSE from Smallacoombe Tor to the prehistoric fields on the downs' southern flank. At the foot of the linear boundary down the eastern slope is a hut circle with a 4.5m diameter levelled interior; much of its wall stone was robbed for refurbishment of the linear boundary which was extended over the hut circle's south west edge. Below the hut circle, prehistoric field remains extend over the downs' lower eastern slope for 350m NNW-SSE, including pronounced steps along the contour called lynchets, some over 2m high, resulting from soil movement down the gradient due to early cultivation. The lynchets often curve and some are faced by large slabs or boulders. They indicate a field system laid out along the contour, with downslope plots about 40m-65m wide, and surviving downslope walls give a plot length about 55m-70m. Finer lynchetted subdivision occurs in the south east, immediately north of a medieval settlement. The prehistoric field system re-appears on Siblyback Moor, along 295m of its north east slopes. At the south east, the slope is divided into narrow strips by parallel downslope walls linking a midslope wall and a lynchet at the foot of the slope. To the north west, modern forestry truncates midslope walling though this does appear on early aerial photographs. On the lower north west slope, a lynchet appears, with less regularly spaced downslope walls below it. The main medieval settlement focus is at the foot of the eastern slope, near the small valley between Smallacoombe Downs and Siblyback Moor. It has two elongated rectangular houses, known as long houses, 30m apart on a NNW-SSE axis, with rubble walls about 0.5m high, but to 1.5m high in places. Between the houses is a small ancillary building; a larger building 15m north of the northern long house is considered to be a barn. The area around the long houses is finely divided into yards and garden plots, partly reusing prehistoric lynchets supplemented by medieval hedgebanks. This close area is defined to the west and south by a massive bank and ditch, reusing a prehistoric lynchet surmounted by an assymetrical medieval hedgebank called a corn-ditch. Another massive bank defines a small yard south of the southern long house. The settlement lies west of a track that extends SSE, round the east of Siblyback Moor, and continues beyond this scheduling. Further early walling east of the track is modified by a small, post-medieval farm described below. Beyond the settlement, hedgebanks and walls show medieval reuse of the east slope prehistoric field system, rising to just below the hut circle at the foot of the linear boundary where a medieval field corner includes a small enclosure with an outbuilding at one end. The upper limit of northern plots on the slope is defined by a medieval bank and outer ditch. From about 100m west of this east slope field system, the block of four medieval fields in the prehistoric field system on the west of Smallacoombe Parks is defined by hedgebanks that partly reuse wavering prehistoric wall lines. Its large, high-level plots, separate from the field system around the settlement, reveal it as an outfield, whose less intensive use supplemented the settlement's output. From about 50m south west along the slope, a second, probably later, outfield has a larger, more regular plan. It occupies most of the slope, up to 320m ENE-WSW by 300m north west-south east, with almost parallel north east and south west sides, and upper sides rising to a broad point. Its lower edge and upper eastern side are open but elsewhere it is bounded by a ditch and an intermittent inner bank; down the south west side, the ditch becomes enlarged to supply water for valley-floor tin extraction. Early aerial photographs show the outfield subdivided into north east-south west strips by parallel walls descending from an upper slope wall below the outfield's upper end. These internal divisions, beyond this scheduling, have not survived modern forestry. Further medieval remains occur 150m north of the long house settlement: below a tall lynchet in a lower slope plot are three rectangular structures; the southern two are small dwellings, 32m apart NNW-SSE, with inner partitions; the northern is a yard, 8.5m by 5m, with a small structure at its upslope end. Their situation in a medieval plot near rich valley-floor tin deposits suggests a connection with medieval tin extraction. Medieval and later tin extraction produced a channel tapered over 200m west along the valley floor between Smallacoombe Downs and Siblyback Moor. This is a result of tinners' removal of superficial deposits with water to expose and concentrate natural tin ore accumulations in the valley floor, a process called tin streaming. At the head of the channel is a boundary marker called a sett stone. In the post-medieval period, a small farm was established east of the track at the medieval settlement. Its two-roomed house is of pre-19th century origin on an earlier foundation; around the house is a cluster of garden plots and ancillary structures. To the south, the track was partly paved by slabs, beside which are ruins of a small domed structure called a beehive hut. The house was later included in a hedgebank marking the edge of a field system in the valley floor whose boundaries extend beyond this scheduling. Several plots on the down's eastern slope were again refurbished and the linear boundary running onto north east Siblyback Moor remained in use, partly converted to a hedgebank. In the 1880s a railway trackbed extended north west from railways serving mines and quarries on south east Bodmin Moor. It was completed along the east and north east of the downs, passing west of the medieval settlement and across its field systems. The project collapsed about 1890, the trackbed ending abruptly beyond the scheduling. All modern fences, gates and fittings, and surfaces of the railway trackbed and metalled forestry rides are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Messenger, M J, Caradon and Looe The Canal Railways and Mines, (1978)
Shambrook, H R, The Caradon and Phoenix Mining Area, (1982)
Sharpe, A/CAU, The Minions Area, (1993)
Blight, J T, 'Ann Rep Royal Inst Cornwall' in Notice of Enclosures at Smallacoombe, near the Cheesewring, C/wl, (1868), 10-16
Blight, J T, 'Ann Rep Royal Inst Cornwall' in Notice of Enclosures at Smallacoombe, near the Cheesewring, C/wl, (1868), 10-16
Nowakowski, J A, Herring, P C, 'Cornish Archaeology' in The Beehive Huts of Bodmin Moor, , Vol. 24, (1985), 185-195
Other
CAU, Cornwall SMR entries PRN 1218.1 & .4, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1218.2, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1218.3, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1222, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1223, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1285, (1990)
CUC taken in 1966; RAF in 1946, Cambridge (CUC) & RAF, Vert. & obl. APs, esp CUC ANP 20; AFE 29-30; RAF 36 TUD UK 137, 5252,
RAF, RAF vertical air photo; 36 TUD UK 137 part III, photo 5252, (1946)
RAF, RAF vertical AP; 36 TUD UK 137 part III, photo 5252, (1946)
RCHME/CAU, 1:2500 Bodmin Moor Survey AP plot SX 2374, (1983)
RCHME/CAU, 1:2500 Bodmin Moor Survey AP plot SX 2374, (1983)
RCHME/CAU, 1:2500 Bodmin Moor Survey AP plots SX 2374 & 2474, (1983)
RCHME/CAU, 1:2500 Bodmin Moor Survey Supp Field Trace SX 2374, (1983)
RCHME/CAU, 1:2500 Bodmin Moor Survey Supp Field Trace SX 2374, (1983)
RCHME/CAU, 1:2500 Bodmin Moor Survey Supp Field Trace SX 2374, (1983)
RCHME/CAU, 1:2500 Bodmin Moor Survey Supp Field Traces SX 2374 & 2474, (1983)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map SX 27 NW Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map SX 27 SW Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27 SW & NW Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27 SW Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Maps SX 27 SW & NW Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, Cornwall sheet XXII: 13 Source Date: 1906 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, Cornwall sheets XXI:12 & 16; XXII:13 Source Date: 1883 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map, Cornwall sheets XXI:12 & 16; XXII:13 Source Date: 1906 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; Cornwall sheet XXII: 13 Source Date: 1906 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; Cornwall sheet XXII: 13 Source Date: 1906 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:2500 Smallacoombe Downs survey plan on OS/Landline map base Source Date: 1998 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
various; see Cambridge CUC ANP 20 & AFE 29-30, Vert. & obl. AP plots, esp 1946 RAF vert. 36 TUD UK 137, III, 5252,

National Grid Reference: SX 23246 74568, SX 23786 74876

Map

Map
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Nov-2017 at 10:35:27.

End of official listing