Leskernick north stone circle

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1460916
Date first listed:
16-Oct-2019
Location Description:
Leskernick Hill, Bodmin Moor. NGR (centered): SX1858679930.

Map

Ordnance survey map of Leskernick north 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. NGR (centered): SX1858679930.

District:
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Altarnun
National Grid Reference:
SX1858679931

Summary

Early to Middle Bronze Age stone circle with a large, off-centre recumbent stone.

Reasons for Designation

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

* Survival: the south stone circle retains its large recumbent stone in situ, and a large proportion of its smaller stones and whilst these are mostly 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 north stone circle (also known as Leskernick II) was discovered in spring 1981, when it was first recorded by large-scale survey (Herring, 1997). Including a stump, a broken stone and three low mounds, it was suggested that 18 stones were definitely part of the circle, with a further 9 to 11 potentially missing, making a circle of between 27 and 29 stones. The circle was included in the extensive survey of Bodmin Moor carried out between 1978 and 1985 by English Heritage and RCHME (Johnson & Rose, 1994, see Sources). It was partially excavated in 1998 by University College London Institute of Archaeology with a trench around one of the perimeter stones and one across the central recumbent stone. The investigation suggested that the central recumbent stone was once an earth-fast erratic, turned through 180 degrees to lie at right angles to the main stone-flow of the hill. A radiocarbon date between 1750 and 1540 BC was obtained, placing the circle in the Early to Middle Bronze Age.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS Located on the south-east slope of Leskernick Hill on West Moor is a small stone circle with an off-centre recumbent stone and three stones in the circle standing; the others are now lying.

DESCRIPTION The stone circle comprises a recumbent stone (4m long) a little north of the circle’s centre with 25 stones in an almost-perfect circle approximately 23m in diameter. The stones are an average 3m apart; three at the north, east and south are standing and are 0.4m to 0.6m high, and the other 22 stones are now fallen, possibly due to being set in shallow stone-holes. Around the southern standing stone is a scatter of stone fragments, and there is also a scatter at the eastern point of the circle; their origin is unknown.

From the stone circle many of the tors on the south side of Bodmin Moor can be seen, with Brown Willy predominant. The circle is aligned with a further stone circle 250m to the south-east, and approximately 125m to the east of the north stone circle is a Bronze Age stone alignment from which both stone circles can be seen. The north stone circle, the south stone circle, the stone row to the east, and the settlement at Leskernick Hill are intervisible with themselves and also with Rough Tor and Brown Willy - the latter is 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
Bender, B, Hamilton, S, Tilley, C, Stone Worlds: Narrative and Reflexivity in Landscape Archaeology, (2007), 101-105
Bender, B, Hamilton, S, Tilley, C, 'Leskernick: the biography of an excavation' in Cornish Archaeology, , Vol. 34, (1995), 58-73
Herring, P, 'Early prehistoric sites at Leskernick, Altarnun' in Cornish Archaeology, , Vol. 36, (1997), 176-185
Mercer, RJ, 'The Neolithic in Cornwall' in Cornish Archaeology, , Vol. 25, (1986), 35-80
Bender, B, Hamilton, S, Tilley, C , 'Leskernick: Stone Worlds; Alternative Narratives; Nested Landscapes' in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, , Vol. 63, (1997), 147-178
Websites
Heritage Gateway – Cornwall & Scilly Historic Environment Record – HER number 3196, accessed 12/10/2018 from https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MCO18451&resourceID=1020
Pastscape – Monument number 433040, accessed 12/10/2018 from https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=433040
Other
Johnson, N, and Rose, P, Bodmin Moor: An Archaeological Survey: Volume 1: The Human Landscape to 1800, 1994, pp31-33

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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