Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Kerbed cairn on Alex Tor

A Scheduled Monument in St. Breward, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5779 / 50°34'40"N

Longitude: -4.6593 / 4°39'33"W

OS Eastings: 211814.738973

OS Northings: 78732.214054

OS Grid: SX118787

Mapcode National: GBR N5.DWJF

Mapcode Global: FRA 174J.SRH

Entry Name: Kerbed cairn on Alex Tor

Scheduled Date: 29 October 1973

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005471

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 894

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Breward

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Breward

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a kerbed cairn, situated on the north western summit of Alex Tor. The cairn survives as a circular stony mound with an overall diameter of 13m and is up to 1.2m high. It utilises part of the natural tor rock outcrop to form the western part of its kerb with an artificial retaining kerb of large inwardly-leaning slabs standing up to 1.4m high completing the eastern part. The central part of the mound is very uneven an indication partial early excavation or robbing.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-433207

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 relationship between settlement sites, field systems, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains provides significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time.
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 some early partial excavation or robbing, the kerbed cairn on Alex Tor survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, territorial significance, social organisation, funerary and ritual practices and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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