Ancient Monuments

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Six cairns on Buttern Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Altarnun, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6062 / 50°36'22"N

Longitude: -4.581 / 4°34'51"W

OS Eastings: 217464.5907

OS Northings: 81672.4879

OS Grid: SX174816

Mapcode National: GBR N8.C545

Mapcode Global: FRA 179G.M4J

Entry Name: Six cairns on Buttern Hill

Scheduled Date: 15 July 1977

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007298

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 1045

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


Round cairn cemetery on Buttern Hill.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 10 December 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument, which falls into four areas, includes a round cairn cemetery situated on the summit of the prominent Buttern Hill. The cemetery survives as five cairns of varying size closely located with an almost contiguous group of four to the north and an outlier a short distance to the south east. The cairns survive as circular stony mounds which vary in size from 5.2m in diameter up to 19.6m and from 0.2m high up to 0.6m. One has a central boulder around which it has been constructed. The largest cairn has the visible remains of an outer and inner kerb and a cist. Two others show traces of perimeter and inner kerbs and all have evidence for early partial excavation. The cairns were first described by Langdon in 1907.

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. Round cairn cemeteries date to the Bronze Age. They comprise groups of cairns sited in close proximity to one another and take the form of stone mounds constructed to cover single or multiple burials. Contemporary or later `flat' graves may lie between individual cairns. Most cemeteries developed over a considerable period of time and they can exhibit considerable diversity of burial rite, plan and form. Occasionally they are associated with earlier long cairns. They may also be associated with clearance cairns - heaps of stones cleared from the adjacent ground surface to improve its quality for agricultural activities; these were also being constructed during the Bronze Age, although some examples are of later date. It may be impossible without excavation to distinguish between some burial and clearance cairns. Round cairn cemeteries occur throughout most of upland Britain; their distribution pattern complements that of contemporary lowland earthen round barrows. Often occupying prominent locations they are a major historic element in the modern landscape. Their diversity and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period. Despite partial early excavation the round cairn cemetery on Buttern Hill survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, the relative chronologies of individual cairns, the territorial significance of the cemetery, social organisation, changes or similarities in ritual and funerary practices and the overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape Monument No:-434244

Source: Historic England

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