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Prehistoric irregular aggregate field system with incorporated stone hut circles 375m SSE of Sparretts Farm

A Scheduled Monument in St. Cleer, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5153 / 50°30'55"N

Longitude: -4.4866 / 4°29'11"W

OS Eastings: 223808.479162

OS Northings: 71342.685842

OS Grid: SX238713

Mapcode National: GBR ND.JZ9Q

Mapcode Global: FRA 17HP.MYD

Entry Name: Prehistoric irregular aggregate field system with incorporated stone hut circles 375m SSE of Sparretts Farm

Scheduled Date: 7 August 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008765

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15122

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Cleer

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Cleer

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes a well preserved Prehistoric irregular aggregate field
system incorporating seven stone hut circles, situated on the lower north-
western slope of Tregarrick Tor on SE Bodmin Moor. The monument is located
near other broadly contemporary field systems, enclosures, hut circles, cairns
and standing stones on the lower slopes of the Tour.
The irregular aggregate field system survives over an area of 4.5 hectares
between the 240m and 270m contour levels and comprises at least 25 field plots
bounded by boulder and rubble walls, up to 2.5m wide and 0.8m high. Some
sectors of the walling are formed entirely of large boulders arranged into a
continuous line, while large end-set slabs up to 1m high, called orthostats,
are also frequent in parts of the field system, especially near the eastern
and NW edges of the monument. The downward movement of soil in the field
plots due to the combined effects of Prehistoric cultivation and of gravity on
this fairly steep hillside has produced a deep build-up of deposits masking
the uphill side of many boundaries, with a corresponding erosion from their
downhill sides. This process, called lynchetting, has altered the surface
appearance of many of the boundaries running along the contour, accentuating
their height to form a series of scarps, the lynchets, which generally rise to
1m high but reach a maximum of 1.75m high.
The field plots range between 0.02 and 0.3 hectares in extent. They vary
considerably in shape, incorporating both straight and curvilinear edges, but
the overall pattern of the field system has a dominant group of at least six
sinuous and lynchetted boundaries, 34-75m apart, which approximately follow
the contour over distances of 75m - 190m. Most of the field plots are the
result of straight or curving walls linking these dominant boundaries. Near
the centre of the monument the junction between one of the lynchetted
boundaries and a straight subdividing wall is marked by a very small oblong
enclosure measuring 7.5m NE-SW by 5m NW-SE. It is boulder-walled with its NE
end open to the field beyond, while the mid-point of its rounded SW end is
marked by a massive vertical orthostat, 1.75m high and 0.6m square at its
base. The two sub-circular plots, separated by a gap of 11.5m,, at the
eastern edge of the monument appear an exception to the overall pattern, one
plot straddling the alignment of one lynchetted boundary and the other forming
an isolated plot to the east, but the incorporation of the western of these
plots into the overall field wall network indicates their existence before
that overall pattern was laid out. Several other details show that the
surviving field system combines several phases of development within the
Prehistoric period. This is evident where angles in some field walls have
been replaced by walling cutting across the angle and where the stone content
of some boundaries and of one hut circle is tumbled and partly removed on its
approach to other later boundaries, particularly near the northern edge of the
monument. In all such cases, the latest phase in the sequence comprises the
lynchetted walling that dominates the surviving field system, and which was
thus imposed on an earlier pattern which is only partially discernible. The
Prehistoric date of this latest phase is affirmed by its respect for all but
one of the hut circles and by the manner in which three of the lynchetted
boundaries terminate on the outer walling of hut circles. However the
north-western lynchetted boundary had been partly re-used during the medieval
period. This resulted in a shallow ditch 1m wide and 0.1m deep, a typical
feature of medieval field walls in south-western England, running alongside
its NW edge over part of its SW sector. A double-faced stone wall, 1.75m wide
and 0.7m high, also ditched, runs for 75m to the NW from the ditched portion
of the lynchet.
The seven hut circles are dispersed throughout the field system, only the two
at the south-western edge of the monument being located on the same field's
boundary wall. Apart from the hut circle located centrally within the early
plot near the monument's eastern edge, all are also located on field
boundaries. The hut circles survive with boulder and rubble walls up to 2.5m
wide and 0.8m high, enclosing circular internal areas ranging 5m - 8m in
diameter and levelled into the hillslope. Inner facing slabs line the walling
of four hut circles, two of which also have outer facing slabs. Entrance gaps
facing SW or SSW are visible in four hut circles, 0.5m wide and marked in
three cases by orthostats to one or both sides. A hut circle at the south-
western edge of the monument has a small sub-circular annexe of similar wall
construction built against its western side. The hut circle partly robbed by
the lynchetted boundary crossing its north-western side also has an adjoining
field wall overlying and re-using its south-western sector of walling. The
north-eastern part of its wall is visible only as a curved setting of
boulders from which the rubble content has been removed in antiquity.
All modern drystone walls, gates and post-and-wire fencing, the electricity
supply poles, their fittings and cabling, are excluded from the scheduling but
the ground beneath them 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
of several methods of field layout known to have been employed in south-west
England from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC-AD 400). They
comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking 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. They are often located around or near ceremonial and funerary
monuments. They are an important element of the existing landscape and are
representative of farming practice over a long period. A substantial
proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

This irregular aggregate field system on the slope of Tregarrick Tor has
survived well, preserving considerable evidence for its developmental
sequence. The substantial lynchetting and hillwash deposits accumulated since
its construction will preserve contemporary land surfaces and environmental
deposits. The proximity of the monument to other broadly contemporary field
systems, enclosures, hut circles, cairns and standing stones demonstrates well
the organisation of land use and the nature of settlement and agricultural
practices during the Bronze Age.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
consulted 9/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2371,
consulted 9/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 2371 & SX 2471,
consulted 9/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1251,
consulted 9/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1251.06,

Source: Historic England

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