Round (or petal) cairn on the summit of Leskernick Hill


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Leskernick Hill, Bodmin Moor. NGR (centered): SX1832280347.


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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): SX1832280347.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Round cairn on the summit of Leskernick Hill.

Reasons for Designation

The Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age round (or petal) cairn on the summit of Leskernick Hill is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: the round cairn retains a good proportion of its stones and whilst these are mostly now fallen or buried its structure 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 Prehistoric scheduled monuments;

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


Round cairns in the form of stone mounds are generally associated with Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) funerary practices. However, they may go through several phases before reaching their final form, and the earlier phases may relate to a ceremonial site enclosed and defined with stake circles or stone settings, to celebrate place. Activities such as lighting fires and deposition of artefacts may have later been superseded by cremated human bones in pits or urns, before the cairn was built over with a rocky pile forming a marker in the landscape. This process is recognised for Cornish hilltop cairns, where they are a major visual element in the landscape. They are a relatively-common feature of the uplands of Cornwall and Devon and are the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Sometimes more distinguishable as kerbed cairns, where the slabs resemble the petals of a flower on the point of opening out, round cairns are sometimes called ‘petal’ cairns. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities.

The cairn on Leskernick Hill was recorded on the 1882 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map as a barrow; and again in 1907 on the 1:10560 OS map as a tumulus. It was first surveyed by the Ordnance Survey in 1976, and again in 1984 as part of an extensive survey of Bodmin Moor carried out between 1978 and 1985 by English Heritage and RCHME (Johnson & Rose, 1994, see Sources). University College London Institute of Archaeology included the cairn in an extensive landscape assessment of Leskernick Hill in 1995-99, calling it the Great Cairn (Bender, Hamilton & Tilley, 2007). It has not been excavated nor surveyed in detail.


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS Located on the summit (329m) of Leskernick Hill on Bodmin Moor is a Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age round cairn.

DESCRIPTION The round cairn comprises an arrangement of granite stones across an area approximately 15m in diameter, with the stones being 0.4m to 0.8m high. Within the perimeter is a retaining circle 11m in diameter where the stones are paired and spaced, and a further 3m within this is a circle or retaining wall of inward-leaning slabs enclosing an area 5m in diameter. A small stone shelter built in the north-east quadrant of the cairn and recorded in 1984, has since collapsed or has been disturbed.

The round cairn is located approximately 300m to the north of two Bronze Age settlements on the south and west slopes of Leskernick Hill. The cairn pre-dates the settlements, and they were sited so that it was not visible from them.

From the cairn there is an impressive panorama of the tors of Bodmin Moor, including Tolborough Tor, Catshole Tor, High Moor, Buttern Hill, Bray Down and Carne Down and the Beacon, with distant views to Rough Tor and Brown Gelly. The cairn would have been visible from the rocky outcrops and tors of the surrounding hills, in particular Brown Willy - the highest point in Cornwall.


Books and journals
Bender, B, Hamilton, S, Tilley, C, Stone Worlds: Narrative and Reflexivity in Landscape Archaeology, (2007), 85-86
Trahair, JE, 'A Survey of Cairns on Bodmin Moor' in Cornish Archaeology, , Vol. 17, (1978), 3-24
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 & Isles of Scilly Historic Environment Record – HER number 1020 , accessed 18/10/2018 from
Pastscape - Monument number 434230 , accessed 18/10/2018 from
Johnson, N, and Rose, P, Bodmin Moor: An Archaeological Survey: Volume 1: The Human Landscape to 1800, 1994, pp34-46
Ordnance Survey, Cornwall (1882) (1:2500)
Ordnance Survey, Cornwall (1907) (1:10560)
Ordnance Survey, Cornwall (1977) (1:2500)


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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