Leskernick stone alignment


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Leskernick Hill, Bodmin Moor. NGR (centered): SX1884279884.


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

Location Description:
Leskernick Hill, Bodmin Moor. NGR (centered): SX1884279884.
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age stone alignment.

Reasons for Designation

The Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age stone alignment at Leskernick is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: the south stone circle retains a large proportion of its stones and whilst these are mostly now fallen or buried in the peat 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 alignment 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.


Stone alignments or stone rows consist of upright stones set in a single line, or in two or more parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often sited close to prehistoric burial monuments, such as small cairns and cists, and to ritual monuments, such as stone circles, and are therefore considered to have had an important ceremonial function. They generally focus on a pre-existing monument and are thought to define and formalise the manner and direction from which the monument should be approached. There is no clear evidence for the heights of stones being graded along the length of the line, although terminal stones may be higher. Spacing between the stones may also be variable. The seven stone alignments known on Bodmin Moor date from the late Neolithic to early Bronze Age periods (3000-1500 BC) and provide rare evidence of ceremonial and ritual practices on the Moor during these periods.

The Leskernick stone alignment was discovered in spring 1981, when it was first surveyed (Herring, 1997). It 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) which included a plan of the alignment. Excavations in 1995-6 by University College London Institute of Archaeology focused on the western terminal setting of one standing and two recumbent monoliths at the west end of the alignment, and revealed that each had a stone-packed socket to support the stones upright, creating a terminal feature of three more-closely-spaced monoliths in line with the row of smaller stones to the east. The circumstances as to how the monoliths came to be recumbent were also investigated in 1996 and this is discussed in Bender, Hamilton & Tilley (2007).

Parts of the alignment, particularly at its east end, have been disturbed by earthworks related to the West Moor streamworks, a large area of medieval and post-medieval alluvial and eluvial tin streaming running north to south below the eastern slopes of Leskernick Hill. West Moor was also extensively used for peat cutting and there is also evidence of this along the length of the alignment, including the building of a post-medieval sub-rectangular 'turf stead' (for stacking dried peat) on the line of the row.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS To the south-east of Leskernick Hill on West Moor is a stone alignment oriented roughly east to west, comprising a single row with two stones standing (the remainder lying) and three large, recumbent stones at the western terminal.

DESCRIPTION The alignment is 317m long and comprises 47 small, low, square-topped stones, all except two lying, and mostly less than 0.5m high. There are three large recumbent stones at the western terminal. The stones are fairly evenly-spaced, 4m to 5m apart; however there are gaps in the row due to obscuring peat growth and stone robbing. The eastern end of the row is irregular and unclear as it is cut across by earthworks related to tin streaming; it may have been longer.

Moving along the alignment from east to west, at approximately two-thirds of its length the row is interrupted by a marshy area modified by tin streaming; this may have been a scrubby area with a stream in prehistoric times. After crossing the marshy area the tip of Rough Tor comes into view, becoming increasingly visually-dominant when approaching the western terminal stones (Tilley, 1995).

From the stone alignment many of the tors on the south side of Bodmin Moor can be seen, with Brown Willy predominant. The alignment is equidistant between two stone circles; from the west end of the row one is approximately 140m to the north-west, and the second is approximately 260m to the south-west. The stone alignment, stone circles, 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.


Books and journals
Bender, B, Hamilton, S, Tilley, C, Stone Worlds: Narrative and Reflexivity in Landscape Archaeology, (2007), 90-100
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
Tilley, C, 'Rocks as Resources: landscapes and power' in Cornish Archaeology, , Vol. 34, (1995), 5-58
Bender, B, Hamilton, S, Tilley, C , 'Leskernick: Stone Worlds; Alternative Narratives; Nested Landscapes' in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, , Vol. 63, (1997), 147-178
Heritage Gateway – Cornwall & Scilly Historic Environment Record – HER number 3195, accessed 17/10/2018 from https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MCO18494&resourceID=1020
Pastscape – Monument number 433037, accessed 17/10/2018 from https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=433037&sort=2&type=&typeselect=c&rational=a&class1=None&period=None&county=None&district=None&parish=None&place=&recordsperpage=10&source=text&rtype=monument&rnumber=433037
Johnson, N, and Rose, P, Bodmin Moor: An Archaeological Survey: Volume 1: The Human Landscape to 1800, 1994, pp31-34


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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