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Prehistoric coaxial field system, incorporated and adjacent hut circles, stone setting, linear boundaries and medieval settlement on Fox Tor and Treburland Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Altarnun, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5816 / 50°34'53"N

Longitude: -4.5013 / 4°30'4"W

OS Eastings: 223011.799995

OS Northings: 78747.847017

OS Grid: SX230787

Mapcode National: GBR ND.DMMC

Mapcode Global: FRA 17GJ.G6B

Entry Name: Prehistoric coaxial field system, incorporated and adjacent hut circles, stone setting, linear boundaries and medieval settlement on Fox Tor and Treburland Farm

Scheduled Date: 3 May 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008245

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15230

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


The monument includes a prehistoric coaxial field system on Treburland Farm
and adjacent prehistoric and medieval settlements on Fox Tor, eastern Bodmin
Moor. The coaxial field system incorporated a stone hut circle settlement,
an adjacent enclosure and four other, dispersed, hut circles. Adjacent to the
coaxial field system, on eastern Fox Tor, the monument includes an unenclosed
hut circle settlement of at least 17 hut circles, within which is a
prehistoric ritual stone setting. A major prehistoric linear boundary crosses
Fox Tor from the south east, delimiting the unenclosed settlement, and an
adjoining linear boundary runs north east through the settlement. Beside the
south east end of the major linear boundary is a deserted medieval settlement
containing two long houses and an ancillary building, complete with broadly
contemporary trackways and unenclosed cultivation ridging on eastern Fox Tor.
Medieval cultivation ridging and trackways are visible in parts of the
prehistoric coaxial field system on Treburland Farm. Post-medieval features
in the monument include a water-course crossing the northern sector of the
coaxial field system, three peat stack platforms and a scatter of small Second
World War bomb craters.
The prehistoric coaxial field system on Treburland Farm forms a western
sector of the overall East Moor coaxial field system, which is visible over
2.9km along the entire north east periphery of East Moor, including two major
breaks due to recent enclosure and clearance. This monument includes only the
sector visible between those two breaks, the other surviving parts being
included in other monuments.
The coaxial field system survives as a series of near-parallel rubble walls,
up to 110m apart, sharing a NE-SW axis and running downslope from a WNW-ESE
terminal boundary crossing their south west ends, now preserved by the line of
the modern moor-edge hedgebank of Treburland Farm and by a medieval ditched
bank for a further 178m to the WNW. This field system's walls survive up to
1.5m wide and 0.5m high, incorporating occasional edge-set slabs, called
orthostats, up to 0.7m high. The sector of coaxial system contained in this
monument is one of several parts of the East Moor system infilled by a regular
field system. This area of regular field infill contains at least 15
rectilinear field plots, of 0.13ha - 0.5ha each, defined by cross-walls
linking the coaxial boundaries at right-angles. Additional coaxial walls
create two prehistoric trackways, 7.5m - 15m wide and 130m apart, through the
central sector of the regular system. The south eastern trackway approaches
the terminal boundary from a settlement containing six stone hut circles
spaced 6m-22m apart over 0.3ha. The hut circles survive with heaped
rubble walls, up to 2m wide and 0.6m high, defining levelled, circular
internal areas ranging from 3.5m to 8.2m in diameter. Most of their walls
incorporate inner and outer facing slabs. Entrance gaps are visible in four
hut circles, variously facing north east, south east or south west. The two
smallest hut circles adjoin the north east wall of a circular enclosure within
the settlement and measuring 17m internally, defined by a rubble wall, up to
2.5m wide and 0.9m high, with a 1.6m wide entrance gap on the north west side.
This part of the coaxial system contains a further four hut circles,
similarly constructed, dispersed 12m-50m apart in its south eastern sector.
They range from 4m to 8m in internal diameter with entrances visible in two,
facing north east and south east respectively.
Beyond the terminal boundary of the coaxial system - the present moor edge -
the unenclosed hut circle settlement extends over 5ha of the north east slope
of Fox Tor, containing at least 17 hut circles, spaced 6m - 130m apart.
The hut circles are similarly constructed to those in the coaxial system but
several in this settlement's eastern sector have been partly robbed of stone
during medieval cultivation. These hut circles range from 4.5m to 9m in
diameter, though only two exceed 6.5m. Within the overall settlement, three
loose groupings are apparent; a WNW-ESE linear group of seven hut circles, 6m-
75m apart over 230m of its north east edge; a curved line of five hut circles,
6m - 52m apart over 140m along its southern edge; and a nucleated group of
five hut circles, 20m - 22m apart, at its western edge. Only the nucleated
group has associated rubble walling, linking four of the five hut circles and
forming two small plots, of 0.01ha and 0.03ha, to their immediate west.
The unenclosed settlement is divided from an extensive area of broadly
contemporary ritual and funerary monuments on the remainder of Fox Tor and
East Moor by a major prehistoric linear boundary running south east in an
almost straight line for 285m from near the summit of Fox Tor. The boundary
survives as a wall of heaped rubble, up to 4m wide and 0.5m high,
incorporating laid slabs up to 1m long and projecting orthostats up to 0.8m
high. Over its south eastern stretch, its character changes to a rubble bank
rising to the tops of the orthostats, due to medieval refurbishment, as it
passes the deserted medieval settlement. A second prehistoric linear boundary
runs north east from 31m below the upper end of the major boundary, dividing
the isolated dispersed hut circles of the unenclosed settlement from those
with associated walling. This boundary is visible as a rubble wall, up to 2m
wide and 0.4m high, with occasional facing slabs, surviving continuously for
243m, beyond which its line is disrupted by medieval clearance but is visible
as a row of occasional orthostats on the same alignment towards the present
moor edge.
The prehistoric stone setting is situated among the southern group of hut
circles of the unenclosed settlement. It is visible as a slight oval cairn of
heaped rubble measuring 7m NW-SE by 5.5m NE-SW and 0.1m high, with peripheral
slabs, up to 1m wide and 0.2m high, 0.6m - 0.8m apart along its south and
north east edges. A slender slab, 2.5m long, lies along its northern edge. The
cairn supports two large erect, end-set slabs. One, 2m wide, 0.25m thick and
1m high projects from the centre of the cairn, while the other, 0.9m wide,
0.4m thick and 1.1m high is situated 1.4m to the north west near the cairn's
edge. Two smaller slabs, up to 0.3m high, are located 0.6m north of the
latter erect slab. A stock-trampled hollow, 4.75m east-west by 2.5m north-
south, against the southern side of the erect slabs' bases, exposes the
cairn's rubble.
The deserted medieval settlement is situated near the foot of the ESE slope of
Fox Tor. It contains two long rectangular farmhouses situated 40m apart on a
NE-SW axis, each of a distinctive type called a long house. Both are built on
levelled platforms, cut 0.5m into the slope on their uphill edges. That to
the north east survives with rubble walling and edge-set slabs, up to 1m wide
and 0.8m high, defining an internal area measuring 11m NW-SE, downslope, by 4m
wide. Opposed gaps, 3m wide, near the centre of the long walls mark the
cross-passage dividing the upper domestic quarters from the lower cattle byre.
The other long house, similarly constructed and orientated, measures 9m NW-SE
by 4.5m wide, with edge-set wall slabs surviving to 0.6m high. An ancillary
building, 3m north of the latter long house, survives as a levelled platform
measuring 3m NW-SE by 4m wide, with slab-built walling up to 0.6m high
revetting its north western levelling scarp. Besides its visible features,
this settlement has been identified with the 'Foxetorre' settlement recorded
in a document dated 1327 AD. Between the settlement and the moor-edge, the
slope of Fox Tor contains the cultivation ridging pertaining to the
settlement, lacking a perimeter boundary as is characteristic of such high
moorland medieval settlements, but bounded to the east by Redmoor Marsh and to
the west by dense uncleared scree on the upper and northern slopes of Fox Tor.
The ridging measures 2m-3m from crest to crest and up to 0.2m high, extending
over 13ha. It is predominantly on a WNW-ESE axis but in the north west is a
discrete rectangular block of 2.5ha on a NNE-SSW axis. Two broadly
contemporary trackways pass through the ridging, linking the settlement and
East Moor with the moor-edge. One runs NNE-SSW along the centre of the
monument and is 2m-20m wide, defined to each side for much of its
length by an earthen bank, up to 1.5m wide and 0.3m high, with an inner ditch
up to 1m wide and 0.1m deep. The other track, a shallow hollow 3m-8m wide,
keeps close to the edge of Redmoor Marsh at the east of the monument. Both
tracks are joined, beyond the moor edge, by groups of hollowed tracks running
through the coaxial system from off the moor. Further medieval cultivation
ridging, on a NNE-SSW axis, is present within the area of the coaxial system,
clearly reusing the prehistoric walling for subdivision.
Post-medieval features within the monument include the modern hedgebanks of
Treburland Farm, a water-course, called a leat, up to 2m wide, crossing the
northern surviving sector of the prehistoric coaxial system to supply water
to Tregune Farm to the west. Three peat stack platforms, where cut peat was
stored, are located along the monument's south east edge beside Redmoor Marsh,
and a scatter of small Second World War bomb craters are dispersed across the
monument on both sides of the present moor edge.
All post-and-wire fences, the Tregune Farm leat and its adjacent clearance
debris from 1m-2m wide, are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath these features is included.

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. Coaxial field systems are one of several methods of land
division employed during the Bronze Age; evidence from nearby Dartmoor, where
they are more common, indicates their introduction in about 1700 BC and their
continued use until about 1000 BC. They consist of linear stone banks forming
parallel boundaries running upslope to meet similar boundaries which run along
the contours of higher slopes, thereby separating the lower enclosed fields
from the open grazing grounds of the higher Moor. The long strips formed by
the parallel boundaries may be subdivided by cross-banks to form a series of
rectangular field plots, each sharing a common long axis.
Coaxial field systems frequently incorporate discrete areas subdivided by
other forms of field system and various enclosures, some of which may be shown
to have been laid out prior to the construction of the coaxial system.
Regular aggregate field systems are one such form, comprising a collection of
field plots defined by boundaries laid out in a consistent manner and meeting
at approximate right angles to each other. Enclosures are discrete plots of
land defined by stone walls or banks of stone and earth, constructed as stock
pens or as protected areas for crop-growing. The size and form of enclosures
varies considerably depending on their particular function.
Broadly contemporary occupation sites comprising stone hut circles, sometimes
grouped to form settlements, may be found both within and beyond coaxial
field systems. Stone hut circles were the dwelling places of prehistoric
farmers on the Moor and consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular
floor area; remains of a turf or thatch roof are not preserved. Hut circle
settlements may be contained within a broadly contemporary field system or may
be entirely unenclosed, in the open, or may be wholly or partly enclosed by a
bank of earth and rubble.
Linear boundaries, consisting of stone banks, sometimes incorporating facing
slabs and end-set slabs, called orthostats, served to articulate the landscape
during the Bronze Age, variously dividing territories, separating settlement
or cultivated land from areas set aside for ceremonial and religious purposes,
or separating cultivated land from areas less intensively used.
Coaxial field systems and hut circle settlements may also incorporate earlier
or broadly contemporary ritual and funerary monuments, of which the various
known forms of prehistoric ritual stone setting are one example. These are a
diverse group of monuments incorporating elements present in other types of
prehistoric ritual and funerary site, notably including arrangements of
standing stones and cairns. Five such monuments have been identified on
Bodmin Moor, of which three are located close to other prehistoric ritual
monuments. The reuse of parts of some coaxial field systems and their
adjoining areas during the medieval (c.AD 400 - 1540) and post-medieval
periods may result in a variety of earthworks and structures of these later
dates overlying the prehistoric monuments. Such later activity is often
agricultural, resulting in cultivation ridging, field boundaries and
routeways, together sometimes with remains of farm buildings that serviced
this activity.
Long houses are one of several distinctive forms of medieval farmhouse.
Rectangular in plan, usually with boulder and rubble outer walls, their
interior was divided, often by a cross-passage, into an upslope domestic area
and a downslope stock byre, known as a shippon in south west England.
Long houses may be accompanied by ancillary structures, often serving as fuel
stores or occasionally containing ovens or corn-drying kilns. Long houses can
date from the 10th - 11th centuries AD, though their main period of
construction was during the later 12th - 15th centuries AD. They may occur
singly or grouped to form villages, and may be related to the various types of
field system and enclosure current in the medieval period. Bodmin Moor
contains almost all of the deserted medieval settlements with above-ground
remains in Cornwall; of these, only 12 retain their complete or near complete
medieval field systems of various types. One form characteristic of the
higher moor in south west England is cultivation ridging unbounded by an
visible peripheral enclosure. Prehistoric and medieval settlements and field
systems provide important information on the nature of settlement
organisation, social structure and farming activity during their respective
periods, while their relationship to other monument types, including linear
boundaries and ritual monuments, provides evidence for the wider organisation
of land use among their communities.
This monument on Treburland Farm and Fox Tor contains both a prehistoric
coaxial field system and an adjacent medieval settlement with its complete
cultivation area that survive well. Each preserves a range of features -
settlement sites, field patterns or cultivation areas and trackways -
demonstrating the nature of land use and farming activities in their
respective periods. The monument's adjacent prehistoric unenclosed hut circle
settlement, linear boundaries and coaxial field system show clearly the
diverse nature of settlement among prehistoric communities. The proximity of
the monument to the wealth of broadly contemporary ritual and funerary sites
of East Moor shows the wider context of prehistoric land use organisation in
which the monument functioned and which the linear boundaries articulated.
This proximity is emphasised by the occurrence within the monument of one such
ritual monument, the stone setting. The medieval reuse for cultivation of
the areas of prehistoric unenclosed settlement and the coaxial field system,
and visible survival of that evidence to the present day, demonstrates the
nature of land-use change since the prehistoric period. The medieval long
house settlement on Fox Tor provides a rare example of a historically recorded
deserted medieval settlement which has survived complete with its unenclosed
area of cultivation ridging, and associated trackways, bounded largely by
natural features. Archaeologically the monument is unusally well-documented,
its entire area having been subject to recent detailed air and ground survey,
and the neighbouring areas of East Moor having undergone extensive
environmental sampling during the 1970's.

Source: Historic England


consulted 1992, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2278,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2378,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2278-9 & SX 2378-9,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entries for PRN 1056.07 & .14,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.01,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.02,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.03,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.04,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.06,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.08,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.09,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.10,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.11,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.12,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1056.13,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1087,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1087.05,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1087.06,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1087.07,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1098.01,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1099,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1114,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1137,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1138,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 12082,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 12749,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR for PRN 1137.1,
consulted 4/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1136,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map, sheet SX 27, First Series
Source Date: 1905

told on 8/5/1992, Information told to MPPFW by Mrs Smith, Treburland Farm, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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