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Prehistoric field systems, enclosure, hut circles and rounds, with adjacent medieval settlement, longhouse and field system on Higher Langdon Farm

A Scheduled Monument in St. Cleer, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.533 / 50°31'58"N

Longitude: -4.5335 / 4°32'0"W

OS Eastings: 220547.093094

OS Northings: 73425.642125

OS Grid: SX205734

Mapcode National: GBR NB.HZ6G

Mapcode Global: FRA 17DN.7NM

Entry Name: Prehistoric field systems, enclosure, hut circles and rounds, with adjacent medieval settlement, longhouse and field system on Higher Langdon Farm

Scheduled Date: 30 April 1956

Last Amended: 28 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007475

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15259

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Cleer

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Neot

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument is situated on the slopes and crown of a broad spur occupied by
Higher Langdon Farm and projecting east in the River Fowey valley on southern
Bodmin Moor. It includes three prehistoric irregular aggregate field systems
with incorporated and adjacent stone hut circles situated around the south,
east and north-east upper slopes of the spur, and a prehistoric enclosure with
an incorporated hut circle on the north-east slope. A later prehistoric to
Roman banked enclosure, called a round, is situated below and adjacent
to the prehistoric field system on the north-east slope, while another broadly
contemporary round is situated at a similar level on the spur's south-east
slope. A deserted medieval settlement is situated adjacent to the prehistoric
field system on the spur's southern slope and a medieval regular enclosed
field system extends around the south-east and eastern slopes of the spur,
partly encompassing and physically linking the earlier settlement and field
system features on those slopes. The medieval field system incorporates a
broadly contemporary long-house on the eastern slope. More recent activity
within the monument has resulted in a post-medieval water-course running along
the spur's upper eastern slope and in the foundations of a small post-medieval
building on the eastern slope.
The prehistoric field systems and enclosure survive with walling of heaped
rubble and boulders, up to 2m wide and 0.8m high, though usually much
slighter. The walls incorporate occasional edge-set slabs, sometimes forming a
facing along one or both sides. Where they run along the contour, a marked
build-up of soil, called a lynchet, has formed against the walls' uphill side
due to the combined effects of early cultivation and gravity. Each of the
three field systems forms a settlement focus, containing abundant stone hut
circles distributed throughout its network of field plots. Each hut circle
survives with a wall of heaped rubble and boulders, often with inner and outer
facing slabs, defining circular or ovoid internal areas levelled into the
hillslope. Entrance gaps are visible in several hut circle walls and some hut
circles are adjoined by small ovoid annexes.
The prehistoric field system on the spur's southern upper slope survives over
3ha and contains at least 19 field plots. The plots range in size
from 0.02ha to 0.52ha and are irregularly-shaped, defined by sinuous
field walls. The field system contains 31 hut circles, ranging from 2.4m to
12.4m in internal diameter, most falling in the range 5m to 8m diameter.
Entrance gaps are visible in seven hut circles, facing various southerly
aspects, and two hut circles have adjoining annexes. Two hut circles located
beyond the field system's walling, 15m and 28m to its north-east respectively,
are considered to have been formerly encompassed within peripheral parts of
this field system whose walling has been largely cleared during the medieval
and later periods.
The prehistoric field system on the spur's eastern upper slope is located 75m
ENE of that on the southern slope and survives over 1.4ha, containing
at least 8 field plots, though partial medieval re-use has resulted in later
subdivision of at least three of these plots. The plots range in size from
0.025ha to 0.31ha and are largely sub-rectangular in shape with
evenly curved or straight walls. This field system contains 12 hut circles,
including two examples adjacent to the field system's outermost walls at the
south and west sides. The hut circles range from 3m to 8m in internal diameter
with entrances visible in two examples, facing north-east and south-east
respectively.
The prehistoric enclosure encompasses 0.08ha and is located 67m NNW of
the east slope field system. The enclosure is sub-rectangular in shape and
measures up to 30m NE-SW by 30m NW-SE, tapering towards its uphill, south-west
side. A single small hut circle, 2.5m in internal diameter, is built within
the north-west wall of the enclosure.
The third prehistoric field system is visible from 45m north-west of the
enclosure. It survives over 3.1ha, extending down the upper north-east
slope from the crown of the spur. This field system contains at least 13 field
plots, though recent clearance on the crown and middle slope of the spur has
removed or interrupted some prehistoric walls in the south-western sector of
this field system and along its surviving north-east edge. The plots range
from 0.03ha to 0.5ha in size and are irregular in shape with
variously curved or sinuous walls. This field system contains 19 hut circles,
but a further 6 hut circles located 14m to 30m beyond the field system's
southern and eastern surviving walling are considered formerly to have been
encompassed by the field system before its later partial clearance. The hut
circles range from 3m to 5.8m in diameter. Two of the hut circles have
concentric annexes formed by rubble walls built 1m beyond the hut circles'
outer walls.
Each of the two later prehistoric to Roman rounds survives with a turf-
covered bank of earth and rubble enclosing a sub-circular internal area. They
are situated 360m apart at mid-slope level on the spur's ENE-facing slope
overlooking the Fowey valley.
The northern round has a bank up to 10m wide, forming a 1m high scarp along
its downslope edge and defining an internal area of 0.25ha, measuring
up to 55m NW-SE by 45m NE-SW. Modern hedgebanks are considered to overlie the
north-west, south-west and part of the south-east course of the round's bank,
with remains of the earlier bank visible beneath the hedgebanks over much of
these sectors. This round is located immediately downslope from the surviving
walling of the north-eastern prehistoric field system, one of whose hut
circles survives near the north-west edge of the round's interior. The
southern round has a bank up to 12m wide and 1m high along its downslope edge.
The bank defines an ovoid internal area of 0.35ha, measuring up to 75m
NNW-SSE by 60m WSW-ENE.
The deserted medieval settlement is located on the spur's southern lower
slope, adjacent to and downslope from the prehistoric field system on that
slope. The settlement contains remains of three longhouses, a medieval form of
farmhouse. The longhouses survive with walling of heaped and coursed rubble
and boulders, up to 2m wide and 0.6m high, defining elongated rectangular
internal areas ranging from 10m long by 3m wide to 13.5m long by 3.5m wide,
orientated with their long axes downslope, NNE-SSW. The northern longhouse in
the settlement is located adjacent to the southern edge of an irregular plot
of the prehistoric field system. A second longhouse is located 55m to the SSW
between two small rectangular garden plots, of 0.025ha and 0.05ha, each
markedly lynchetted and defined by a rubble and boulder wall,
up to 1.25m wide and 0.75m high. Rubble wall foundations define an internal
area, measuring 10.9m by 4.7m, of a rectangular building considered to be a
barn, 8m east of this longhouse and also between the two garden plots. The
third longhouse is situated 27m south-east of the barn and is located at the
centre of a yard area of 0.04ha. Slight rubble wall foundations from a
contiguous row of three small outbuildings are visible 2.5m west of, and
parallel to, the western side of the longhouse. A semi-elliptical garden plot
of 0.05 ha extends north from the yard. The plot is lynchetted to a
height of 1m along its southern edge against the yard but elsewhere it is
defined by a rubble wall, up to 0.8m wide and 0.2m high, incorporating edge-
set slabs up to 0.6m high. A deep modern farm track cuts through the eastern
half of the yard area, clipping the south-east corners of the longhouse and
garden plot. From 10m east of that longhouse's yard, another rubble wall, up
to 0.7m wide and 0.2m high, survives near a modern hedgebank and is considered
to mark the western wall of a third longhouse-and-plot unit which formerly
existed within the settlement but which has been largely destroyed by modern
clearance. In addition to the surviving remains of this settlement, it has
also been considered as the location of a settlement called 'Langadon', first
known from a documentary reference dated AD 1327. The medieval regular
enclosed field system considered to pertain to this settlement extends across
the south-east and eastern slopes of the spur; further remains survive beyond
the monument 100m west of the settlement, separated from it by an area
recently cleared and levelled. The area of the field system is subdivided into
a succession of contiguous narrow strips orientated downslope and defined by
straight, heaped rubble walls up to 2m wide and 0.5m high. On the eastern
flanks of the spur, the field system survives continuously over 7 ha,
extending northwards from the slope below the southern round to the southern
edge of the prehistoric field system on the spur's north-east slope. On the
lower slope, below the 225m contour level, the strips range from 20m to 45m
wide, rising from the foot of the slope to the lower edge of the round and,
elsewhere, to a lynchetted cross-bank, paired over part of its length, which
runs along the contour. On the middle slope, two patterns are visible.
Over the surviving 25m of the middle slope south of the round and for 85m to
its NNW, the broad strips present a similar pattern to that on the lower
slopes, also ending on an upslope cross-bank. The medieval and earlier remains
on the upper slope above this sector have largely been destroyed by the modern
buildings and yards of Higher Langdon Farm.
North of that point, the strips on the middle and upper slope are largely
undivided and much narrower, ranging from 5m to 25m wide and commonly
averaging 8m wide. They rise over the middle and upper slopes to a common
limit along the crest of the spur, at about the 252m contour level, marked now
by a post medieval water-course, called a leat, which here adopts the line of
the former medieval upper field boundary. At their southern extent, the upper
ends of these narrow strip walls terminate on the downslope wall of the
prehistoric field system on the east slope. Very incomplete and partial
attempts to clear and subdivide the plots of this earlier field system are
evident.
The lower ends of the southernmost narrow strips meet the cross-bank at the
225m contour level, but elsewhere they end on a modern broad farm track with
an accompanying ditch which is considered to have destroyed any former
midslope boundary along which they terminated.
A further sector of this regularly enclosed field system survives over 1.3
ha on the spur's upper south east slope. Here the strips are 20m to 35m
wide, running slightly obliquely downslope and parallel to an uphill boundary
separating the strips from the crown of the spur. The latter boundary links
the walling of the prehistoric field systems on the south and east slopes and
is accompanied by a ditch, up to 1m wide and 0.1m deep, along its upper side.
This sector is separated from the remainder of the field system on the east
slope and from the medieval settlement on the south slope by the uncleared
prehistoric field systems on the east and south slopes respectively and by
later destruction for recent pasture improvement and the building of the
modern Higher Langdon Farm to the south and south east.
A single medieval longhouse is located within the area of this regular
enclosed field system, within the northen edge of the prehistoric field system
on the east slope. The longhouse survives with walls of heaped rubble and
boulders, up to 1.75m wide and 0.6m high, defining an internal area measuring
11.3m long by 2.6m wide, its long axis orientated downslope, WSW-ENE. An
internal subdividing wall partitions the western 3m of the interior from the
remainder. A small sub-rectangular outbuilding is located 4m south east of the
longhouse and had a slight wall of heaped rubble, 0.9m wide and 0.2m high,
defining an internal area measuring 3m NE-SW by 2.5m NW-SE, not levelled into
the slope.
Features within the monument deriving from the post medieval activity include
a leat running around the upper slope of the spur at the 252m-255m contour
level, descending gently from north to south and surviving as a ditch, up to
1.2m wide and 0.4m deep, accompanied along its downslope side by a bank of
upcast, up to 1.3m wide and 0.9m high. The leat enters the monument at the
north, crossing the prehistoric field system on the north east slope, then
its course adopts the upper boundary of the medieval regular field system on
the east slope, where its bank has also been utilised for a modern boundary.
Further south, it crosses the prehistoric field system on the east slope and
the medieval regular field system on the south east slope, beyond which it has
been destroyed by modern clearance. An abandoned early post medieval field
bank runs obliquely down the spur's upper east slope, crossing the northern
part of the medieval field system from the single longhouse almost to the
corner of a modern field on the middle slope to the north east. It survives as
a bank of heaped rubble and boulders up to 1m wide and 0.6m high.
The remains of an abandoned post medieval farm outbuilding survive on the
spur's eastern slope, 100m south east of the single longhouse. These survive
with walling of coursed rubble and boulders, up to 1m wide and 0.4m high,
defining a rectangular structure measuring 6m north south by 4m wide
internally, with an extension, 3m wide, projection 4.5m east from its northern
end. The rectangular structure has an entrance gap 0.6m wide in its south east
corner, flanked on its south side by an edge set slab, 1m high, bearing
drilled stone splitting holes.
Beyond the monument, an unenclosed hut circle settlement is situated 130m away
on the north west slope of the spur. There are, 350m south west of the
monument extensive, closely grouped, prehistoric field systems and settlement
sites on the lower eastern slopes of the Browngelly Downs, while five large
funerary cairns are located on the summit ridge of the Downs overlooking this
monument.
Well-preserved medieval settlements with their field systems are also situated
on the lower eastern slope of the Downs, from 250m to the south west and
visible from this monument's medieval settlement. Medieval tin-mining along
the valley between this monument and the Browngelly Downs medieval settlements
has resulted in the earliest historically recorded tin streaming works to be
identifiable on the ground.
All modern post and wire fences, gates and gate-fittings; electricity supply
lines, poles and fittings; the concrete block water tank and its buried
outflow pipe; the cess pit and its inflow pipe near the southern round and the
surfaces of the modern cleared and levelled farm tracks are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath, including walls and hedgebanks, is
included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are a major feature of the
Moor landscape. Irregular aggregate field systems are one such method of field
layout known to have been employed in south-west England during the Bronze Age
(c.2000 - 700 BC). Irregular aggregate field systems comprise a collection of
field plots, generally lacking in conformity of orientation and arrangement,
containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes bounded
by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences.
Irregular aggregate field systems often incorporate or are situated near stone
hut circles, the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on the Moor, mostly
also dating from the Bronze Age. The stone-based round houses survive as low
walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; the remains of a turf or
thatch roof are not preserved as visible features. The huts may occur singly
or in small or large groups and may occur in the open or be enclosed by a bank
of earth and stone.
Prehistoric enclosures may adjoin field systems or may occur in the open.
These discrete plots of land enclosed by stone walls, or banks of stone and
earth, were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing
and were sometimes subdivided to accommodate animal shelters and hut circle
settlements for farmers and herders. The size and form of enclosures may
therefore vary considerably, depending on their particular function.
Prehistoric field systems, enclosures and hut circles are important elements
of the existing landscape and provide important evidence on the organisation
of farming practices and settlement during the prehistoric period.
Rounds are small embanked enclosures, often with an external ditch and usually
circular or oval in shape. They form one of several settlement types known to
date to the later Iron Age and Roman periods (c.400 BC to AD 450). They
usually have a single earth-and-rubble bank broken by one entrance gap.
Excavated examples have produced dry-stone supporting walls within the bank,
paved or cobbled entrance ways and post-built gate structures. The foundations
of timber, turf or stone-built houses, of oval or rectangular plan, are often
set around the inner edge of the enclosing bank. Hearths, drains, gullies,
pits and rubbish middens are sometimes preserved, as is evidence for
small-scale industrial activity. Rounds may be associated with secondary
enclosures, either butted against the round or separated by a small gap.
Rounds are viewed primarily as agricultural settlements, the equivalents of
farming hamlets, replaced by unenclosed settlement types by the 7th century
AD.
The relatively unintensive post-medieval land use of upland areas which has
allowed the preservation of much surviving prehistoric settlement and field
system evidence has also permitted the survival of medieval remains which
often abut or impinge on those earlier, prehistoric, remains. Such medieval
remains may include various forms of field system and settlement. Regular
enclosed field systems are one such field system type known to have been
employed during the later medieval period (AD 1066 - 1550). They comprise a
methodically-arranged collection of field plots in which individual holdings
were systematically distributed through different parts of the field system's
overall area. This was achieved by several known methods of field layout
depending on whether the field system was superimposed on an earlier,
sometimes unenclosed, field system or whether it was newly established on the
area covered, and whether or not the field system comprised a cohesive or
dispersed collection of plots. The resulting regular enclosed field systems
often include collections of elongated strip-form plots, each plot
representing one unit of an individual's holding.
Medieval field systems sometimes survive in association with broadly
contemporary settlements containing longhouses, one of the several distinctive
forms of medieval farmhouse which may occur individually or grouped to form
villages. Rectangular in plan, usually with boulder or rubble outer walls and
with their long axis orientated downslope, the interior of longhouses was
divided into two separate functional areas, an upslope domestic room and a
downslope stock-byre, known in south-west England as a shippon. The division
between the two, and their access, was usually provided by timber screens or
sometimes rubble walling, running transversely across the longhouse, linking
opposed openings in the long side-walls. Longhouses may be accompanied by
ancillary buildings, separated slightly from the farmhouse itself, which may
have served as fuel stores or occasionally contain ovens and corn-drying
kilns. The earliest known longhouses date to the 10th to 11th centuries AD but
their main period of construction was during the later 12th to 15th centuries
AD.
Medieval field systems and longhouse settlements also form an important
element of the existing landscape, providing information on the organisation
of medieval farming and settlement, its expansion onto the uplands and
providing evidence for the successive changes in land use that have affected
the Moor.

This monument on Higher Langdon Farm has survived well. The three separate
prehistoric field systems with their groups of hut circles show clearly the
nature of settlement and farming activity and their relationship to the
topography during the Bronze Age. The Iron Age to Roman rounds and the
medieval settlement sites and field system similarly demonstrate those aspects
for these later periods. However, the presence of good surviving remains from
all of these periods in such close physical association is very unusual,
providing a rare opportunity to observe on one contiguous block of land the
development of settlement form and land-use from the Bronze Age to the
medieval period. Rounds in particular are rare on Bodmin Moor and the two
included in this monument are the only examples on the Moor considered to
preserve the original spacing between them. The proximity of the monument to
the prehistoric cairns, the prehistoric and medieval settlements and field
systems on the Browngelly Downs, and the documented medieval tin-mining
remains in the adjoining valley, places this monument in its wider context of
land-use development.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 416, 1955, consulted 1993
AM7 Scheduling Maplet and Documentation for CO 416, 1955, consulted 1993
AM7 Scheduling Maplet and Documentation for CO 416, consulted 1993
APs: NMR SX2073/3/137; Cambridge QC 70, 71,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./Fletcher, M.J./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2073,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1225,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1226,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1227,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1227.27,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1228,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1229,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1259,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1303,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1343.1-.2,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1388,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3614,

Source: Historic England

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