Leskernick south stone circle

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1459490
Date first listed:
16-Oct-2019
Location Description:
Leskernick Hill, Bodmin Moor. Centered NGR: SX1881779622.

Map

Ordnance survey map of Leskernick south stone circle
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Leskernick Hill, Bodmin Moor. Centered NGR: SX1881779622.
District:
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Altarnun
National Grid Reference:
SX1881779622

Summary

A small Early Bronze Age stone circle, all its stones now lying.

Reasons for Designation

The Early Bronze Age south stone circle at Leskernick is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: the south stone circle retains a large proportion of its stones, and whilst they are now fallen their positions can still be read;

* Potential: it will contain important environmental evidence relating to its construction, use, ritual significance and landscape context;

* Documentation: the stone circle has been surveyed and contextualised within the archaeology of Bodmin Moor;

* Group value: for its close proximity to other related contemporary scheduled monuments;

* Rarity: due to their rarity and longevity as a monument type, all surviving examples are considered to be of national importance.

History

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Single upright stones may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of stones radiating out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may also be found close to and on occasion within the circle. Stone circles have traditionally been divided into at least five types: small; large irregular; large regular; concentric; and four-poster; there is also considerable variability in the size and spacing of the stones. Many sites show specific relationships to natural features: upland stone circles draw attention to the surrounding hills. They are best interpreted as places where communities who lived rather mobile lives gathered periodically for meetings and ceremonies of various kinds. Most stone circles are not well dated. The earliest sites appear around 3000 BC but most of the larger examples were probably built during the currency of Late Neolithic Grooved Ware pottery, between about 2800 and 2200 BC. Activity at many sites was particularly intense in the third quarter of the 3rd millennium, a time when a new pottery style called Beaker began to appear, perhaps representing a challenge to the established order. Circles of all types continued to be built and used through the period of Beaker currency into the Early Bronze Age, though many of the larger sites had gone out of use by this time. Circles of the earlier 2nd millennium BC were generally small, of a similar scale to the round barrows of this period.

Leskernick south stone circle was first discovered in 1973 by Martin Fletcher of the Ordnance Survey Archaeological Division and appears on the 1975 Ordnance Survey map. The first detailed record for the circle was published in Cornish Archaeology in 1980 (Barnatt, see Sources). It has been suggested that the circle was once a true circle formed of 30 or 31 standing stones, but the site has historically been disturbed by mineral prospecting and possibly peat collection.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS Located below the south-east slope of Leskernick Hill on West Moor is a small stone circle, all its stones now lying.

DESCRIPTION The circle consists of 23 granite stones set in a circle of approximately 30m diameter. They are between 1.5m and 2m in length graded from the largest at the north-north-west in a clockwise direction to the smallest at the south-south-east, and are various shapes mostly with one end tapered. None of the stones are standing and some lie on-edge. It is thought that the stones were originally upright, supported by evidence of one to the north-east which has been snapped off with the base remaining buried. All have been either pushed over or have fallen over time, possibly due to being set in shallow stoneholes. On the south-east side is a small mound approximately 0.3m high and approximately 7m in diameter, with three of the stones and some stone fragments buried within it; there is also a small tinners’ prospecting-pit (0.2m deep and 2m in diameter) on the south side of the mound, probably formed from spoil from the pit. Roughly at the northern point of the circle there is a further spoil mound, approximately 0.4m high with an approximate size of 12m by 5m, with two tinners' prospecting pits (each 0.2m deep and 2m in diameter) on its south side.

From the stone circle there is an impressive panorama of the tors of Bodmin Moor, including nearby Tolborough Tor, Brown Willy, Rough Tor and The Beacon, and distant views to Brown Gelly further to the south. The tallest stones in the circle, when standing, faced Leskernick Hill, perhaps to make it look more impressive when viewed from there. The south stone circle, a stone circle and a stone row to the north, and the settlement on Leskernick Hill are intervisible with themselves and also with Rough Tor and Brown Willy – the highest point in Cornwall.

The turf surrounding the stones has recently (2018) been cleared to expose the edges of each stone.

Sources

Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982), 198
Mercer, RJ, 'The Neolithic in Cornwall' in Cornish Archaeology, , Vol. 25, (1986), 35-80
Barnatt, J, 'Lesser Stone Circles in Cornwall' in Cornish Archaeology, , Vol. 19, (1980), 17-29
Websites
Heritage Gateway - Cornwall & Scilly Historic Environment Record, HER number 3196 , accessed 14/08/2018 from https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MCO18450&resourceID=1020
Pastscape – Monument number 432900 , accessed 14/08/2018 from https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=432900
Other
Cornwall Archaeological Unit aerial photographs refs F75-112 and F75-113.
Johnson, N, and Rose, P, Bodmin Moor: An Archaeological Survey: Volume 1: The Human Landscape to 1800, 1994, pp31-33
Ordnance Survey, Cornwall (1975) (1:2500)

Legal

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

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