Platform cairn with outer bank and central mound 430m WSW of Smallacoombe Tor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018646

Date first listed: 12-Sep-1960

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Oct-1998


Ordnance survey map of Platform cairn with outer bank and central mound 430m WSW of Smallacoombe Tor
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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 23071 74794


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. Platform cairns are funerary monuments covering single or multiple burials and dating to the Early Bronze Age (c.2000-1600 BC). They were constructed as low flat-topped mounds of stone rubble up to 40m in external diameter. Some examples have other features, including peripheral banks and internal mounds, constructed on this platform. A kerb of edge-set stones sometimes bounds the edges of the platform, bank or mound, or all three. Platform cairns occur as isolated monuments, in small groups, or in cairn cemeteries. In the latter instances they are normally found alongside cairns of other types. Although no precise figure is available, current evidence indicates that there are under 250 known examples of this monument class nationally. As a rare monument type exhibiting considerable variation in form, a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.

This platform cairn on the Smallacoombe Down has survived substantially intact, retaining clearly its original form. The base of unrecorded antiquarian excavation at the centre of the cairn remains above the old land surface. The concentric coursed walling revealed by the excavation is unusual, as also is evidence for a ditch around the cairn. The relationship of this cairn to the broadly contemporary tor cairn and to the settlement sites and field systems on the slopes of the Smallacoombe Downs demonstrates well the organisation of land use during the Bronze Age and the relationship of funerary practices with settlement and farming among prehistoric communities.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric funerary platform cairn with an outer bank and central mound situated on the summit of a broad hill, at the highest point of the Smallacoombe Downs, on south east Bodmin Moor. The cairn survives with a circular platform of heaped rubble, up to 17.5m in diameter and 0.5m high. The periphery of the platform supports an outer rubble bank, up to 2m wide and 0.75m high. At the centre of the platform is a heaped rubble mound 10.5m in diameter, rising to 0.6m above the platform's surface. An unrecorded antiquarian excavation has produced a circular hollow, 5.5m in diameter and up to 0.6m deep at the centre of the mound; rubble spoil from this excavation was spread over the northern half of the cairn, masking the distinction between the central mound and the outer bank in that sector. Along its southern edge, the excavation hollow reveals a 3.25m length of coursed rubble walling concentric with the edge of the mound and forming an original feature of the cairn's internal structure. Beyond the south east side of the cairn, a marked vegetation change to heather and mosses from the grass and bilberry covering most of the cairn defines a 1m wide band, considered to denote an underlying ditch, concentric with and 1m beyond the outer edge of the cairn's outer bank. Beyond the monument, other broadly contemporary monuments include a tor cairn on the southern side of Smallacoombe Tor, while extensive prehistoric field systems, settlement sites and linear boundaries are located along the north east slopes of the Smallacoombe Downs, from 410m to the east and north.

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: 15285

Legacy System: RSM


consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2275-6 & SX 2374-5,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1265,
Saunders, A.D., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 594, 1959, consulted 1993

End of official listing