Ancient Monuments

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Linear boundary called the Giant's Hedge

A Scheduled Monument in Lanreath, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3841 / 50°23'2"N

Longitude: -4.5461 / 4°32'45"W

OS Eastings: 219090.5415

OS Northings: 56899.4781

OS Grid: SX190568

Mapcode National: GBR NB.T249

Mapcode Global: FRA 18C1.2R7

Entry Name: Linear boundary called the Giant's Hedge

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1928

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006681

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 104

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Lanreath

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Lanreath

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument, which falls into seven areas, includes parts of a linear boundary extending between the settlements of Looe to the south east and Lerryn to the west. The linear boundary originally would have measured approximately 15km in length, of which 3km does not survive and 2.8km is protected in differing-sized sections. The survival of the linear boundary is variable, being visible as as a ditch cut into the hillside with a bank to the south; as a scarp where the ditch has been silted and the bank rather flattened; or as a bank with a backfilled ditch. At its best preserved, the bank is approximately 3.5m wide and up to 2m high whilst the ditch measures 3m wide and up to 0.8m deep. The whole follows a sinuous course hugging, wherever possible, the position just below the crest of the hillside. It passes through four different parishes and appears to have been constructed to defend the area between the Rivers Looe and Fowey. Although Borlase in the mid-18th century considered it to be a Roman road, it is now believed to be a pre-Norman boundary.
Traditionally it is recorded in a local poem 'One day, the Devil, having nothing to do, built a great hedge from Lerryn to Looe'.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Linear boundaries are substantial earthwork features comprising single or multiple ditches and banks which may extend over varying distances of less than 1km to over 10km. They survive as earthworks or as linear features visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs or as a combination of both. The earliest examples date to the Middle Bronze Age and many apparently later boundaries may re-use these early examples, some date to the Roman period, others are Anglo Saxon and still more of medieval origin. The scale of many linear boundaries has been taken to indicate that they were constructed by large social groups and were used to mark important boundaries in the landscape; their impressive scale displaying the corporate prestige of their builders. They would have been powerful symbols, often with religious associations, used to define and order the territorial holdings of those groups who constructed them. Linear earthworks are of considerable importance for the analysis of settlement and land use and social organisation. The linear boundary called the Giant's Hedge survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, date, function, social organisation, ritual, economic, political and defensive significance and overall landscape context. Its immortalisation in a popular local poem reflects its continuity as a feature in the landscape and adds to its interest.

Source: Historic England

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