Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Ring cairn and two kerbed cairns on Bray Down

A Scheduled Monument in Altarnun, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6112 / 50°36'40"N

Longitude: -4.562 / 4°33'43"W

OS Eastings: 218830.0467

OS Northings: 82183.9095

OS Grid: SX188821

Mapcode National: GBR N9.BXP1

Mapcode Global: FRA 17BG.8JL

Entry Name: Ring cairn and two kerbed cairns on Bray Down

Scheduled Date: 17 June 1975

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004241

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 863

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Altarnun

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Altarnon with Bolventor

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument, which falls into three areas of protection, includes a ring cairn and two kerbed cairns, situated on the summit of the prominent hill called Bray Down. The western kerbed cairn survives as a circular stony mound measuring up to 23m in diameter and 1.8m high which incorporates a natural tor. It has a 1m deep central pit, and three upright stones to the north east may represent part of an outer retaining kerb.

The central kerbed cairn survives as a circular stony mound measuring up to 13m in diameter and 0.5m high with some visible stones from an outer retaining kerb. An Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar is set into the mound and is excluded from the monument, although the ground beneath is included.

The eastern ring cairn survives as a circular stony ring bank of up to 18m in diameter, 2.3m wide and 0.6m high and defined by inner and outer kerbs of stone. It surrounds a small central mound of 4m in diameter and 0.3m high.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-434224

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 relationships between settlement sites, field systems, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains provide significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time.

Ring cairns are ritual monuments comprising a circular bank of stones surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or boulders. Excavation has revealed the presence of pits, some containing cremation burials, within the central area. Ring cairns are contemporary with other Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) funerary monuments on the Moor. Although no precise figure is available, current evidence indicates that there are only between 250 and 500 known examples of this monument class nationally.

Kerbed cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds defined by an outer kerb of upright stones or walling covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, kerbed cairns are a major visual element in the modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. 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. They are particularly representative of their period. Despite partial early excavation and the construction of a triangulation pillar, the ring cairn and two kerbed cairns on Bray Down survive well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, relative chronologies, territorial significance, social organisation, ritual and funerary practices and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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