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Bosiliack prehistoric settlement, field systems, entrance grave, cairns and later tinworks

A Scheduled Monument in Madron, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1541 / 50°9'14"N

Longitude: -5.599 / 5°35'56"W

OS Eastings: 143016.064222

OS Northings: 34425.90167

OS Grid: SW430344

Mapcode National: GBR DXK8.N4S

Mapcode Global: VH058.WDX7

Entry Name: Bosiliack prehistoric settlement, field systems, entrance grave, cairns and later tinworks

Scheduled Date: 12 February 1958

Last Amended: 21 November 2012

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004411

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 488

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Madron

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Madron

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The standing, earthwork and buried remains of a prehistoric relict landscape including an entrance grave, hut circle settlement, its associated field systems, and cairns. The site also includes the remains of later tinworks, and medieval and post-medieval fields systems.

Source: Historic England


An extensive area of prehistoric remains situated in an upland area of open moorland to the north-west of Bosiliack. It includes an Early Bronze Age entrance grave; a Bronze Age hut circle settlement, its associated field systems and clearance cairns. The site also includes medieval and post-medieval field systems, and an area of post-medieval tin mining.


The entrance grave is situated on a slight ridge in the eastern part of the site, just beyond the eastern extent of a prehistoric field system. It survives as a circular stony mound measuring approximately 5m in diameter and up to 1.1m high. It is defined by an outer kerb of seventeen or eighteen large granite slabs with an entrance on its south-east side which leads to a rectangular internal chamber of edge-set granite slabs. An excavation in 1984 uncovered evidence that the chamber had been opened previously, but that most of the primary floor deposits were undisturbed; these contained cremated human bone, charcoal, pebbles and sherds from plain ceramic vessels. The entrance was found to have been blocked by an upright granite slab. The entrance grave is located adjacent to an east-west alignment of boulders that mark the upper edges of a terrace or lynchet, although the relationship between these two features cannot be determined.


The Bronze Age roundhouse settlement is situated on the edge of open moorland on the east side of a shallow upland valley in the western part of the site. The roundhouses are grouped into a roughly oval arrangement around an open space. A survey in the 1980s identified thirteen or more stone-walled houses comprising eleven single structures, two with two-rooms, and a three-roomed house. They all survive as low, stony walls with an external diameter of between 5m and-10m and an entrance sited mostly in the south quadrant. Excavations in 1984 and 2011 recovered quantities of charcoal, flint scrapers and Bronze Age pottery, including decorated sherds, from within some of the houses; one retained evidence of original floor level, while another contained a large pit, possibly a pit hearth. Evidence was also recovered for the multi-phase occupation of several houses indicating that at least part of the settlement was inhabited during the Iron Age. Located adjacent to one of the roundhouses (SW 42813443) is a socketed stone about 0.9m square and 0.5m above ground, with a circular depression 0.15m in diameter and depth, cut into the top. It is considered to be later in date than the settlement and is possibly a socket for a horse whim. Beyond the main concentration of roundhouses are at least four further houses which are dispersed singly in the surrounding fields. To the north and east of the settlement is an extensive field system that covers an area of approximately 45ha, some of which are likely to be of prehistoric date and contemporary with the settlement. They are defined by stony banks, some with upright stones that are rarely higher than 0.6m. A large number of small clearance heaps or cairns are associated with the fields. An archaeological survey of the area in 1984 identified further field systems that post-date the prehistoric settlement; these later enclosures are of varying size and plan and are bounded by banks of either turf or stone.


On the upper slopes in the north-eastern part of the site are the remains of post-medieval tin mining, including lode-back workings and prospecting pits which are orientated north-west to south-east and extend over an area some 460m long. They survive as an area of closely-set small shafts, pits and spoil dumps. In addition there are larger mine shafts with platforms for horse engines and spoil heaps that overlie the earlier remains in places. Towards the south-eastern extent of the mining remains is a hollow way which, for much of its length, has banks up to 0.5m high to either side. It is aligned north-east to south-west, following a sinuous course, and it pre-dates the main mining remains.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The prehistoric entrance grave, settlement, field systems and cairns, medieval and post-medieval field systems, and the post-medieval mining remains to the north-east of Lanyon Farm, Bosiliack are scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Period/Rarity: the Bronze Age entrance grave and roundhouse settlement are representative of their respective periods and there is a presumption in favour of their designation when they survive to any substantive degree, as is the case here. The re-occupation of at least part of the settlement in the Iron Age provides evidence of a complex socio-political landscape that existed during this period;

* Survival: the site contains a diverse group of monument classes that survive well and together represent good evidence of the long-term management and exploitation of this area since prehistoric times;

* Potential: the site will contain further archaeological and environmental deposits that have not yet been excavated which will relate to the occupation of the prehistoric settlement and the character of upland agriculture. Later tin working activity contributes additional information concerning the character of the relationship between farming and mining;

* Documentation (archaeological): archaeological survey, combined with a series of excavations, has considerably enhanced our understanding of the form and survival of the monument;

* Group Value: the inter-relationship of the different elements within this landscape enhances the national importance of the monument as a whole.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dines, H G, 'The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England' in The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England, (1956), 95-100
Jones, A, 'Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 76' in Bosiliack Carn and a reconsideration of entrance graves, (2010), 271-96
Archaeological excavations at Bosiliack, Madron, Cornwall. Cornwall Council, Report No. 2012RO17, unpublished draft
Cornwall Council, West Penwith Survey, Cornwall
Analysis and Publication, Updated Project Design 2011,

Source: Historic England

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