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Prehistoric embanked platform cairn and linear boundary with superimposed medieval boundary and adjacent clearance cairn on Dinnever Hill

A Scheduled Monument in St. Breward, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5839 / 50°35'2"N

Longitude: -4.6521 / 4°39'7"W

OS Eastings: 212349.6957

OS Northings: 79377.1176

OS Grid: SX123793

Mapcode National: GBR N5.DJWB

Mapcode Global: FRA 174J.9G2

Entry Name: Prehistoric embanked platform cairn and linear boundary with superimposed medieval boundary and adjacent clearance cairn on Dinnever Hill

Scheduled Date: 21 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007768

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15283

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 prehistoric funerary embanked platform cairn on the
summit of Dinnever Hill on north-west Bodmin Moor. To the east of the cairn,
the monument includes a prehistoric linear boundary which runs up the northern
slope of the hill onto the summit. Both the cairn and the linear boundary are
crossed by a much later, medieval, ditched boundary bank which encloses much
of the north-western slope of the hill. Adjacent to the eastern corner of the
medieval boundary is a small, broadly contemporary, mound of cleared surface
stone, called a clearance cairn.
The prehistoric platform cairn survives with a circular platform of heaped
rubble, 20m in diameter and up to 0.3m high near its centre. The cairn
supports two distinct, near-concentric, peripheral banks which together define
a level internal area measuring 11m in diameter. The inner bank ranges from 1m
to 1.6m wide and 0.3m-0.4m high. The gap between the inner and outer banks is
0.15m high and varies from 2.6m wide on the cairn's northern side to 0.5m wide
on its southern side. The outer bank is 0.2m high and also ranges in width,
from 1.7m at the north to 1.1m at the south. Both peripheral banks incorporate
occasional larger slabs, generally laid flat, but the outer bank also includes
an edge-set slab, 0.3m high, in its eastern sector. The cairn is overlain by
the ditched medieval boundary, described in detail below. The boundary crosses
the centre of the cairn on a WSW-ENE axis and in doing so, it is visible as a
bank of heaped rubble, 1.8m wide and 0.2m high, rising to 0.5m high where it
passes across the peripheral banks at the eastern side of the cairn. The bank
is accompanied by a silted ditch, 1.2m wide and 0.1m deep, along its southern
The prehistoric linear boundary passes 105m east of the platform cairn in its
almost straight, NNE-SSW course, rising from the deep valley-floor peat near a
streamhead at the northern foot of Dinnever Hill to the summit ridge of the
hill. The course of the boundary is visible over 408m; over its northern 140m
from its emergence as a surface feature from the peat to its passage across a
small midslope marsh, the boundary survives as a heaped rubble bank, up to
1.1m wide and 0.2m high, incorporating some edge-set slabs up to 0.5m high.
South of the small marsh, to its southern surviving end, the rubble fabric of
the linear boundary has been partly removed during the later prehistoric or
early medieval period by digging a shallow trench along its course. This
trench, called a robber trench, survives up to 1m wide and 0.2m deep, and is
accompanied by an intermittent bank of upcast rubble, up to 1.5m wide and 0.1m
high. Although much of the boundary's rubble has been removed in this sector,
the robber trench preserves the boundary's course, aiming for a valley head
south of the modern Camperdown Farm but now disrupted by modern pasture
improvement. This relationship to the local landforms and the nature of its
intact northern sector confirm this linear boundary as one of a group of
broadly contemporary prehistoric boundaries on this area of the Moor which run
from valley to valley, subdividing the moorland into large blocks. Two other
such linear boundaries emerge beyond the monument from the streamhead near the
northern end of this boundary.
Both the cairn and the robber trench of the prehistoric linear boundary are
crossed by a medieval ditched boundary which encompasses much of the
north-western slopes of Dinnever Hill. This boundary is considered to define a
major portion of the outer boundary of the medieval tenement of East Rowden,
whose deserted settlement survives on the lower western slope of the hill. The
boundary survives as a bank of earth and rubble, up to 3m wide and 0.3m high,
though generally 1.5m wide and 0.2m high. The boundary is accompanied by a
ditch, generally 1m wide and 0.2m deep but rising to 4m wide and 0.5m deep at
its eastern corner and northern end where subsequent drainage erosion has
occurred. The ditch runs along the bank's outer side with respect to the area
enclosed. The boundary survives over 1.18km; its western end rises from near
the southern corner of the medieval settlement's field plots. From there it
runs ESE for 120m then curves to extend north-east for 818m up the western
slope of Dinnever Hill to its summit ridge, passing over the prehistoric
platform cairn and the linear boundary's robber trench. Then the medieval
boundary turns sharply to the NNW and extends a further 242m directly down the
northern slope of the hill to end in the adjacent valley floor at the
stream-edge. Close to that sharp turn on the summit ridge, and adjacent to the
boundary's ditch, there is a small circular mound of heaped rubble, 2.75m in
diameter and 0.25m high, comprising an accumulation of gathered surface stone,
called a clearance cairn. Beyond the broad marshy area north of the stream,
and beyond this monument, the course of this boundary is extended along the
edge of the adjacent spur to the next valley floor by a further length of
similar boundary.
Besides the visible surface remains, environmental sampling in 1991 from the
thick peat deposits adjacent to the north-east end of this monument has
produced pollen evidence elucidating the vegetational sequence that
accompanied and reflected the phases of human activity on this part of the
This monument is located in one of several areas of Bodmin Moor that contain
an unusually large grouping of prehistoric ritual and funerary monuments. In
this grouping, in the vicinity of this monument, other prehistoric cairns of
various types are located 250m to the north and 385m to the north-east of this
monument's cairn on Dinnever Hill. Broadly contemporary ritual monuments
nearby include the Stannon Stone Circle, 300m to the north of this monument. A
prehistoric hut circle settlement and field system occupies much of the hill's
north-western slope which was re-used by the East Rowden medieval settlement,
while other prehistoric linear boundaries rise from the streamhead 168m to the
ENE and 160m north-east of the northern end of this monument's boundary.
Another medieval tenement boundary rises up the southern slope of the hill to
180m south-east of this monument and the thoroughfare between the tenement
blocks marked by these two boundaries is marked by the medieval Middle Moor
Cross, 80m beyond this monument.

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.

Platform cairns are funerary monuments covering single or multiple burials and
dating to the Early Bronze Age (c.2000-1600 BC). They were constructed as
low, flat-topped mounds of rubble, up to 40m in external diameter. Some
examples have other features, including peripheral banks and internal mounds,
constructed on the platform. A kerb of edge-set slabs sometimes bounds the
edges of the platform, bank or mound, or all three. Platform cairns may occur
as isolated monuments, in small groups or in cairn cemeteries. In the latter
instances they are normally found alongside cairns of other types. Although no
precise figure is available, current evidence indicates that there are under
250 known examples of this monument class nationally, of which a significant
proportion occurs on Bodmin Moor.
The prehistoric linear boundaries of Bodmin Moor consist of rubble banks,
sometimes incorporating facing slabs or projecting end-set slabs called
orthostats. They may be massively constructed, up to 8m wide and 1m high,
although the majority are much slighter. Built during the Bronze Age (c.2000-
700 BC), they fulfilled a variety of functions. Some run at high altitude
along a contour and appear to separate lower land used for cultivation from
that less intensively used. Some may be territorial, marking the boundaries of
land held by particular social groups. Others may serve to delineate land set
aside for ceremonial and religious activities such as burial. Frequently
linear boundaries are associated with other forms of contemporary field
system. These linear boundaries provide important evidence on the organisation
of farming practices, settlement and societies during the prehistoric period.
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 later monuments which often
abut or impinge on the earlier, prehistoric, remains. Such may include
medieval tenement boundaries, commonly formed as embanked ditches which served
both to define the edges of the private arable and pasture land pertaining to
the parent settlement and to deter stock from neighbouring tenements or common
pasture from wandering onto that private land. The moorland enclosed by such
boundaries was often prepared for agricultural use by clearing surface stone,
which may be heaped to form small mounds called clearance cairns. These
medieval remains 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 forming evidence for the successive changes
in land use that have affected the Moor.
This monument on Dinnever Hill contains well-preserved evidence for a sequence
of prehistoric and medieval phases of land use and includes some unusual
elements among those phases. The platform cairn has survived substantially
intact despite the passage of the medieval boundary across its centre. It has
not been excavated and its double-embanked form is most unusual. The proximity
of this cairn to the other broadly contemporary and diverse funerary and
ritual monuments on this part of the Moor demonstrates well the nature and
organisation of ritual activity during the Bronze Age. The nearby prehistoric
linear boundary also provides important evidence both for the sequence and the
manner of land-use organisation among the prehistoric communities. Although
much of the fabric of the boundary itself was removed prior to the medieval
tenement boundary's construction, most of its course is visible and
articulates with the other linear boundaries beyond this monument to present
an unusually large-scale survival of upland land division during the Bronze
Age. The thick peat deposits over the northern end of the boundary and in the
midslope marsh that also encroaches onto it preserve environmental information
contemporary with the sequence of prehistoric and later phases of activity in
the monument. Pollen analyses from these deposits have elucidated the
vegetational context within which this monument developed. The medieval
tenement boundary has survived well and together with the northern sector of
the boundary, beyond this monument, provides an unusually complete example of
a medieval moorland-edge tenement block whose deserted settlement and inner
field block also survive intact beyond the monument to the west. Its clear
relationship with the prehistoric cairn and linear boundary shows well the
sequence of land use on this hillside, while its passage across the linear
boundary's robber trench provides rare evidence for the deliberate destruction
of prehistoric boundaries on the Moor during the later prehistoric or earlier
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot for SX 1279,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 1179; SX 1279,
consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 1279-80 & SX 1379,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1972.2,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1972.8,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1990.2,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3059,
Mercer, R.J., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 897, 1973, consulted 1993
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Pathfinder Series 1338, Bodmin Moor west
Source Date: 1988

Source: Historic England

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