Ancient Monuments

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Nine Stones stone circle 1.03km NNW of Bowhayland Farm

A Scheduled Monument in North Hill, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5763 / 50°34'34"N

Longitude: -4.4926 / 4°29'33"W

OS Eastings: 223610.822691

OS Northings: 78143.153873

OS Grid: SX236781

Mapcode National: GBR ND.F3TG

Mapcode Global: FRA 17GJ.ZJG

Entry Name: Nine Stones stone circle 1.03km NNW of Bowhayland Farm

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1929

Last Amended: 27 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008631

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15194

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: North Hill

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 stone circle situated on a broad level
shelf on the lower north west slope of Ridge hill on eastern Bodmin Moor, near
broadly contemporary funerary monuments and prehistoric field systems.

The stone circle is visible as a setting of eight granite slabs, ranging from
1m to 1.3m high and up to 1.05m wide by 0.35m thick, their bases spaced 4m to
6.5m apart about a near-circular course 15m in diameter. All of the slabs
have eroded surfaces and edges, showing no traces of dressing. One slab has
been removed from the circle since its depiction on maps of 1884, and a second
missing slab was noted in 1889, these leaving a gap of 11.5m in the northern
sector. The site of one of these slabs is indicated by a surface hollow
measuring 2m east-west by 1.5m north-south slightly within the circular course
in its NNE sector. The north eastern stone has fallen over outwards but the
remaining stones are erect, with packing stones and slabs visible about most
of their bases. A ninth erect stone, situated slightly south east of the
circle's centre, is a relatively recent parish boundary stone, one of a line
of such stones that extends beyond the monument to the ENE and south west
marking the boundary between North Hill and Altarnun parishes. This stone is
1m high, 0.35m wide and 0.22m thick, differing from the other slabs in having
sharp, angular edges and barely weathered surfaces.

This stone circle was recorded and partly reconstructed by the local land-
owner and antiquary, F R Rodd, in 1889, involving the re-erection of the
circle's six slabs that had, by then, fallen and the re-erection and slight
re-siting of the fallen parish boundary slab near the centre.

Beyond this monument are extensive and broadly contemporary field systems and
settlement sites on Ridge hill, reaching to within 400m of the monument to the
south east and north east, while the prominent Clitters Cairn is visible on
the skyline, 540m to the east.

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. Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or
more circles of upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be
surrounded by earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Single
upright stones may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of
stones radiating out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may
also be found close to and on occasion within the circle. Stone circles are
found throughout England, although they are concentrated in western areas,
with particular clusters in upland areas such as Bodmin and Dartmoor in the
south-west and the Lake District and the rest of Cumbria in the north-west.
This distribution may be more a reflection of present survival rather than an
original pattern. Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late
Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). It is clear that they
were designed and laid out carefully, frequently exhibiting very regularly
spaced stones, the heights of which also appear to have been of some
importance. We do not fully understand the uses for which these monuments were
originally constructed but it is clear that they had considerable ritual
importance for the societies that used them. In many instances excavation has
indicated that they provided a focus for burials and rituals that accompanied
interment of the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function,
helping mark the passage of time and seasons, this being indicated by the
careful alignment of stones to mark important solar or lunar events such as
sunrise or sunset at midsummer or midwinter. At other sites the spacing of
individual circles throughout the landscape has led to a suggestion that each
one provided some form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group.
Of the 150 or so stone circles identified in England sixteen are located on
Bodmin Moor. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into
prehistoric ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

The Nine Stones stone circle has survived reasonably well, despite the partial
reconstruction during the later 19th century. It is one of the smallest stone
circles in Cornwall and its location, on a broad natural shelf surrounded by
higher land, typifies the setting of many stone circles. Its proximity to
broadly contemporary funerary and settlement sites demonstrates well the
nature of ritual activities and their relationship to agricultural settlement
during the Bronze Age.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982), 190-2
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976), 7,115-6
3/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 2377; SX 2477; SX 2478,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2377,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1059,
consulted 3/1992, CCRA SMR Register entry for SX 27 NW 16,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1020; 1021; 1030,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1108,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map, sheet SX 27 NW
Source Date: 1984

Source: Historic England

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