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Prehistoric coaxial and regular field systems, incorporated hut circles and adjacent deserted medieval settlement, droveway and long house on Tregune Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Altarnun, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.586 / 50°35'9"N

Longitude: -4.5113 / 4°30'40"W

OS Eastings: 222320.711956

OS Northings: 79261.342562

OS Grid: SX223792

Mapcode National: GBR NC.DK1B

Mapcode Global: FRA 17FJ.49V

Entry Name: Prehistoric coaxial and regular field systems, incorporated hut circles and adjacent deserted medieval settlement, droveway and long house on Tregune Farm

Scheduled Date: 11 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008261

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15231

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

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric coaxial field system and adjacent
deserted medieval settlement and droveway with adjacent medieval long house,
situated across a broad spur projecting north from Fox Tor on eastern Bodmin
Moor. The prehistoric coaxial field system incorporates an earlier
prehistoric enclosure and is partly infilled by a broadly contemporary regular
field system incorporating four stone hut circles. A second prehistoric
regular field system adjoins the south western edge of the coaxial field
system.
The prehistoric coaxial field system in the monument forms the north western
visible sector of the East Moor coaxial field system, which survives over
2.9km along the entire north eastern periphery of East Moor and contains two
major breaks due to recent enclosure and clearance. This monument includes
only that part visible west of its two major breaks, the other surviving parts
being included within other schedulings.
The coaxial field system in the monument contains four near-parallel rubble
walls, called coaxial boundaries, 70m-100m apart, sharing a NNE-SSW axis, and
broadly parallel to the coaxial axis in other parts of the East Moor coaxial
system. The western coaxial wall bisects an earlier ovoid enclosure,
incorporating short lengths of the enclosure wall into staggered junctions
where the coaxial boundaries pass across. The enclosure encompasses
approximately 0.8ha but its western walling has been destroyed by modern
clearance. To the south, the coaxial walls terminate on prehistoric
walling of the monument's two regular field systems, while to the north they
survive to the limit of modern clearance, though the course of one coaxial
boundary was reused for a distance of 100m by the western boundary of the
medieval droveway.
The coaxial walls survive as largely turf-covered banks of heaped rubble, up
to 1m wide and 0.3m high, incorporating occasional end-set slabs, called
orthostats, up to 0.7m high, though recent stone clearance in parts of the
monument's western sector has removed some orthostats.
The southern end of the coaxial field system is partly infilled by a broadly
contemporary prehistoric regular field system, with similarly constructed
walls, up to 1.6m wide and 0.4m high, with orthostats up to 0.8m high. The
regular field system extends over 1ha and is visible as a block of at
least seven small rectilinear plots, varying in size between 0.08ha to
0.13ha. They are formed by the subdivision of the coaxial system by further
coaxial walls which are between 18m-30m apart. These smaller enclosures are
further subdivided by cross-walls linking into the main coaxial boundaries.
The north western plot has a curving west wall from the adoption of an earlier
enclosure into the pattern. The regular field system incorporates four stone
hut circles, the largest situated in one side of the north western plot, the
others situated at plot corners to the south and south east. The hut circles
survive with heaped rubble walls, up to 1.6m wide and 0.75m high, defining
circular internal areas ranging from 5.5m to 9.5m in diameter, levelled into
the hillslope. The hut circle walls incorporate inner facing slabs up to 1.75m
long and 0.75m high. An entrance gap, facing south west, is visible in one hut
circle.
The other prehistoric regular field system is located immediately to the west
and is visible as four parallel prehistoric walls on a WSW-ENE axis, across
the contour, on alignments 50m-70m apart and similarly constructed to those
described above. The walls are truncated to the west by modern enclosure
leaving only a small surviving remnant; however its significance lies in
providing the only instance over the 2.9km of the East Moor field system where
its coaxial axis meets and integrates with a regular field system on a
different axis. This field system junction is considered to define the
original north western extent of the East Moor coaxial field system,
corresponding with a marked change in the topography of the moor at this
point: the moor's north east edge becomes deeply indented and the dominant
axis of the coaxial field system would no longer conform to the slope axis.
The northern three of the regular system's four parallel boundaries meet and
terminate on coaxial boundaries. The southern two of the four parallel walls
are also earlier than the coaxial boundaries: the southern wall is clearly
robbed of stone on its approach to the other regular field system, while 10m
of the next parallel wall to the north is adopted into the course of one of
the coaxial walls, causing a marked step in the line of the latter.
The medieval droveway defines the eastern edge of the surviving area of
prehistoric remains and survives over the full 800m of its shallow 'S-shaped'
course. It links the monument's deserted medieval settlement to the north
east with the open moor to the south where its funnel-shaped entrance is a
typical arrangement designed to concentrate stock driven from the moor. The
droveway is defined along each side by an earth and stone bank, up to 2m wide
and 0.75m high, bordered along the droveway's inner side by a ditch,
completely silted in places but still visible up to 1.5m wide and 0.3m deep
elsewhere. Part of the droveway's western bank reuses a prehistoric coaxial
wall-line as noted above, while the eastern droveway bank in its southern and
central sectors and both banks in the northern sector are surmounted by modern
hedgebanks. The droveway width, bank to bank, ranges from 7m near its
southern end to 50m in its north western sector where it flares to adopt the
prehistoric wall line. In its northern sector, 130m before reaching the
medieval settlement, the droveway flares again to accommodate a partly cleared
northern branch, beyond the monument, leading to a fording point on the River
Lynher.
The medieval settlement survives as a nucleated group of structures and yards
covering 0.2ha at the north east end of the droveway. It contains a central
single long rectangular farmhouse of a distinctive type called a long
house, surviving with a rubble walling, up to 0.7m wide and 1m high, defining
a levelled internal area measuring 17.5m SW-NE by 3m wide. A rubble-edged
step, 0.25m high, across the north eastern third of the interior marks the
site of the cross-passage that separated the uphill domestic quarters from the
lower cattle byre. Similar walling defines four smaller long rectangular
ancillary buildings, centred respectively 9m and 24m south east of the long
house, 28m to its south west and 20m to its north west and ranging from 2m
long by 1.5m wide to 10m long by 4.5m wide. Rubble walling also defines two
small garden plots, of 0.01ha each, extending from the long house's north west
wall, and a small sub-triangular yard, of 0.015ha, 20m east of the long house.
Beyond the monument the successive early post-medieval and 19th century
farmhouses from which this land has been farmed are situated 230m to the
south.
The monument's other deserted long house is situated 3m beyond the west side
of the droveway's central section on the crest of the spur. It stands alone,
without ancillary structures, and survives with a wall of contiguous edge-set
slabs, 0.3m-0.8m high, with traces of a similar inner row, giving a wall 0.9m
wide. The wall defines a long rectangular internal area measuring 20m NNW-SSE
by 6m wide. The SSE end lacks any surface trace of a closing wall, while the
building's north west corner is rounded. A row of contiguous, turf-level
stones marks the site of the cross-passage, separating the NNW 8.5m of the
interior from the remainder of the building.
Beyond the monument are the extensive prehistoric settlement sites, field
systems, ritual and funerary monuments, together with medieval long house
settlements and cultivation ridging on Fox Tor and East Moor.
All modern gates, gate fittings and post-and-wire fences are excluded from the
scheduling although the ground beneath 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. 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 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.
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 and
adjacent to the prehistoric monuments. Such later activity is often
agricultural, resulting in 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, although 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. 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 Tregune Farm contains prehistoric and medieval settlement
sites that survive well, the latter with its complete range of ancillary
structures and access droveway demonstrating well the organisation of farming
activities during the medieval period. The prehistoric settlement preserves
extensive parts of its incorporating coaxial and regular field systems
together with part of an adjacent, earlier, regular field system showing the
nature and development of land use during the Bronze Age. However those field
systems themselves are of particular importance in defining the original
extent and relationship to the topography of the East Moor coaxial field
system, the largest and most complete surviving example of such a prehistoric
field system in Cornwall. The proximity of the monument to the wealth of
prehistoric settlement, ritual and funerary sites of Fox Tor and East Moor
shows the wider context of prehistoric land use in which the monument
functioned.
The development of settlement types and layout from the medieval period to the
present day is demonstrated by the proximity of the monument's deserted
medieval settlement to its early post-medieval and 19th century successors, a
rare survival of such a sequence which also involved a shift in the farmhouse
site. Archaeologically the monument is unusually well-documented, its entire
area having been subject to recent detailed air and ground survey, while the
neighbouring areas of East Moor have undergone extensive environmental
sampling during the 1970's.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Austin, D, Gerrard, G A M, Greeves, T A P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Tin And Agriculture Landscape Archaeology In St Neot Parish, , Vol. 28, (1989)
Other
CAU/RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey, Unpubl. draft text consulted 1993
consulted 1992, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2279,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2278-9,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047.01,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047.02,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047.03,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1047.04,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1048,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1048.1,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1091,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1106,
pp.227-231; p.233, PRN 3382, CAU, Bodmin Moor Cornwall. An Evaluation for the MPP., (1990)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, sheet SX 27 NW
Source Date: 1984
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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