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Prehistoric field system, hut circles, boundary, enclosure and standing stone, medieval field system and post-med. small-holding 1.46km NNE of Siblyback Farm

A Scheduled Monument in North Hill, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5388 / 50°32'19"N

Longitude: -4.485 / 4°29'5"W

OS Eastings: 224007.771691

OS Northings: 73955.541448

OS Grid: SX240739

Mapcode National: GBR ND.HKS7

Mapcode Global: FRA 17HM.VZB

Entry Name: Prehistoric field system, hut circles, boundary, enclosure and standing stone, medieval field system and post-med. small-holding 1.46km NNE of Siblyback Farm

Scheduled Date: 3 May 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011321

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15249

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: North Hill

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Cleer

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric irregular aggregate field system
incorporating at least fourteen stone hut circles and with an adjacent
prehistoric linear boundary, enclosure and standing stone situated on the
south-eastern slopes of Newel Tor on Siblyback Moor, south-east Bodmin Moor.
Parts of the prehistoric field system were re-used during the medieval period,
when cultivation also extended further south along the slope and was enclosed
by a medieval regular enclosed field system. The field system and farmstead of
an abandoned 19th century small-holding overlie and partly re-use the earlier
field system walls in the north east of the monument.
The prehistoric irregular aggregate field system survives with heaped rubble
and boulder field walls, up to 1.75m wide and 1m high, incorporating
occasional facing slabs, 0.1m-0.8m high. Where the walls run across the slope,
their upper side is partly or wholly masked by a build-up of soil, called a
lynchet, the result of natural soil creep and early cultivation on the slope.
This prehistoric field system is visible as a sub-rectangular block of at
least 26 contiguous field plots, totalling 8.5ha and extending for 490m in a
slight arc along the east and south east slopes of Newel Tor. The individual
field plots range from 0.08ha to 0.5ha in extent. Their plot walls follow
sinuous, often curving, courses, but an overall pattern is evident within the
field system as a whole. This pattern comprises three rows of adjoining field
plots, one row above the next and each row approximately following the
contour. Each row is divided into plots by sinuous walls running generally
downslope and usually forming the long-axis of the plots. Traces of walling
from an uppermost fourth row of such field plots are evident on the surface
and from aerial photographs of the hillside. The smallest plot, at the centre
of the field system, is ovoid, cutting across the walling of the overall
pattern, and is considered to originate from a different prehistoric phase
from the rest of the field system's layout.
The prehistoric field system incorporates at least fourteen stone hut circles.
Eleven are dispersed as a curving row extending for 260m between the 300m and
310m contour levels, spaced 2m-35m apart through consecutive plots in the
central row of fields. Two other hut circles are situated 30m apart in the
southern plot of the lower row while another hut circle is located 6m
downslope of the next prehistoric plot to the north east and has been modified
by relatively recent conversion into an ovoid enclosure. Apart from the
latter, modified example, the hut circles survive with circular or slightly
oval walls of heaped rubble and boulders, up to 2.5m wide and 1.2m high,
defining internal areas ranging from 4m to 9m in diameter. Their interiors are
levelled into the hillslope, in several cases by terracing the hut circle onto
an artificial rubble platform built out on the downslope side. The walling
frequently incorporates inner and outer facing slabs. Entrance gaps, generally
1m wide, are visible in nine hut circles: six face south east, downslope; one
faces east, one south west and one faces north. Four entrances are flanked by
end-set slabs called orthostats. One hut circle near the northern end of the
field system has an ovoid annexe adjoining its southern side, constructed
similarly to the hut circle and with a levelled interior measuring 6.2m north-
south by 4.7m east-west.
The prehistoric linear boundary survives as a wall of heaped rubble, up to
1.3m wide and 0.6m high, extending from the north west corner of the broadly
contemporary field system. The linear boundary is visible for 335m on an
almost straight NNW-SSE course along the crest separating the steep eastern
slope of the Withey Brook valley from the gently sloping summit dome of Newel
Tor. At a point 115m along the boundary from the corner of the field system, a
prehistoric wall of the same character extends east, downhill, for 37m, while
from 110m further NNW along the linear boundary, similar walling defines a
slender sub-triangular enclosure of at least 0.6ha against the western side of
the boundary. The enclosure measures at least 120m long, NNW-SSE, and up to
65m wide, tapering to the north but its northern end has been robbed by recent
wall-building and forestry plantation.
The prehistoric standing stone is located near the foot of the hill's
south east slope, 65m south east of the prehistoric field system's
south eastern visible field plot. It survives as an erect, end-set granite
slab, 2.4m high and of rectangular section measuring 0.9m east-west by 0.6m
north-south, tapering to a blunt wedge-shaped tip.
Medieval re-use of the prehistoric field system is evident from slight
cultivation ridging within most of the field system's plots. This survives as
areas of slight, parallel, earthen ridges, 2m-3m wide and orientated mostly
downslope though paying some regard to the axis of neighbouring boundaries. In
the northern and central parts of the monument, the ridging indicates medieval
re-use of the prehistoric boundaries, with some refurbishment of the field
system's northern wall to a bank of earth-and-rubble, 2m wide and 1.2m high,
with a ditch along its outer, northern, side measuring 1.7m wide and 0.4m
deep. Along the south western edges of the prehistoric field system, the
irregular, sinuous prehistoric walls are contained within, and crossed by,
straight walls of rectilinear medieval plots, whose long axes are also
orientated downhill, north west to south east. At least seven such rectilinear
plots, ranging from 0.2ha-1.6ha each, form a medieval regular enclosed field
system which extends the area of enclosed cultivation ridging over six
hectares of the south east slopes of Newel Tor beyond that encompassed by the
prehistoric field system. The medieval plot walls survive as banks of heaped
rubble and boulders, up to 1.7m wide and 0.4m high. Along the foot of the
slope, the lower edge of the plots and ridging is defined by an earthen bank,
up to 1.8m wide and 0.2m high, with a ditch, up to 1.5m wide and 0.1m deep,
along its upper side. From the eastern curve of this ditched bank, another
similar bank diverges to define the north and east sides of an adjoining
medieval or later regular enclosed field block extending east into the valley
floor. This latter block, whose southern extent is largely truncated by modern
enclosure and pasture clearance, is subdivided into three strip-fields by two
near-parallel banks, 35m-50m apart, running ESE-WSW.
The north east sector of the monument includes the discrete settlement and
field system of a 19th century moorland small-holding called Little Siblyback,
considered to overlie the site of a later medieval settlement called New Hall,
and finally abandoned c.1930. The field system of the small-holding forms an
elongated sub-rectangular block of 5.25ha along the lower eastern slope of
Newel Tor, flanking the western side of the Withey Brook valley. The field
block measures up to 355m NNE-SSW by up to 210m wide and is subdivided by
earth and rubble hedgebanks into nine fields of 0.17ha to 1.5ha in extent. The
hedgebanks along the WNW part of the field block, above the c.290m contour
level, overlie and preserve the sinuous courses of the prehistoric walls
bounding the lower row of field plots in the prehistoric field layout. Below
this level, the hedgebanks adopt markedly straighter courses, influenced
partly by the slope-orientated lines of medieval field banks, some of which
are visible crossing the eastern plot of the small-holding. The settlement
site of the small-holding is located at the centre of its field system block,
though an apparent early abandonment of that field system's largest, eastern
plot leaves the settlement site on the eastern edge of the final pre-
abandonment field layout. The settlement includes two roofless buildings, the
northern comprising the farmhouse and the southern the barn, situated 15m
apart on a north-south axis, each built across the slope with random rubble
walling, surviving up to 3m high in the farmhouse gable wall. The wall rubble
bears drill-split marks, characteristic of post-1800 stone-splitting methods.
The buildings are situated amongst a group of five small walled yards which
extend south and east from the farmhouse and barn, completing the settlement
nucleus of the small-holding. The settlement's water supply is visible as a
water-course ditch, called a leat, whose surviving course runs NNE for 340m to
the settlement from the edge of the modern pasture at the south east edge of
the monument.
In addition to the visible surviving remains, the settlement of Little
Siblyback is considered to overlie the site of the medieval settlement of New
Hall, recorded in a reference of AD 1503. The 19th century date of the Little
Siblyback small-holding and its field system is confirmed by their absence
from early Ordnance Survey drawings of this area made in 1808. Their
abandonment as a working small-holding in c.1930 remains in the memory of some
older residents in the vicinity.
This monument is situated near other, often extensive, prehistoric and
medieval settlement sites, field systems bordering the Withey Brook valley,
the nearest examples of which are located 120m east of the linear boundary and
200m east of the field system. Prehistoric ceremonial monuments also occur
nearby, including a tor cairn on Newel Tor, 180m to the west, and several
funerary cairns and cists on the eastern slopes of the Withey Brook valley
from to the east, within sight of this monument. Further 19th century small-
holdings are spaced along the Withey Brook valley, including East Siblyback
and South Wardbrook, situated 300m and 700m south east of the monument
respectively and now abandoned and incorporated into the modern pasture
enclosure system.

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 such method of field
layout known to have been employed in south west England during the Bronze Age
(c.2000-700 BC). Irregular aggregate field systems comprise a collection of
field plots, generally lacking in 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.
Irregular aggregate field systems often incorporate or are situated near stone
hut circles, the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on the Moor, mostly
also dating from the Bronze Age. The stone-based round houses survive as low
walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; the remains of a turf or
thatch roof are not preserved as visible features. The huts may occur singly
or in small or large groups and may occur in the open or be enclosed by a bank
of earth and stone.
Field systems and hut circles sometimes adjoin linear boundaries, also built
during the Bronze Age and used to fulfill a variety of functions. Some run at
high altitudes 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.
Prehistoric enclosures may adjoin field systems and linear boundaries or may
occur in the open. These discrete plots of land enclosed by stone walls, or
banks of stone and earth, were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas
for crop growing and were sometimes subdivided to accommodate animal shelters
and hut circle settlements for farmers and herders. The size and form of
enclosures may therefore vary considerably, depending on their particular
function.
Standing stones are ceremonial monuments dating from the Late Neolithic and
Bronze Age (c.2400-700 BC). They comprise single or paired upright slabs,
ranging in height from under 1m to over 6m where still erect. Excavations have
demonstrated various sub-surface features adjacent to standing stones,
including stone funerary cists, pits filled sometimes with human burial
deposits, and spreads of pebbles. Standing stones may have functioned as
markers for routeways, territorial boundaries, graves and meeting points, but
their adjacent features show that they also bore a ritual function, forming
one of several known ritual monument classes of their period.
Prehistoric field systems, linear boundaries, enclosures and hut circles are
important elements of the existing landscape and provide evidence on the
organisation of farming practices and settlement during the prehistoric
period. Their relationship with ritual monuments such as standing stones
allows an insight into the nature of ceremonial activity among prehistoric
communities.
The relatively unintensive modern land use of upland areas which has allowed
the preservation of much of the surviving prehistoric settlement and funerary
evidence has also favoured the survival of a diversity of medieval and post-
medieval monuments which often impinge on, or re-use parts of, those earlier
prehistoric remains. Such later monuments frequently include various forms of
settlement, field system and cultivation ridging.
Regular enclosed field systems are one field system type known to have been
employed during the later medieval period (AD 1066-1550). They comprise a
methodically-arranged collection of field plots in which individual holdings
were systematically distributed through different parts of the field system's
overall area. This was achieved by several methods of field layout depending
on whether the field system was newly established or superimposed on an
earlier field system, and whether or not the field system comprised a cohesive
or dispersed collection of plots. Many such regular enclosed field systems
also show development through time as their formerly distributed holdings
tended to become aggregated together.
Of almost 100 abandoned or shrunken post-medieval settlements on Bodmin Moor,
a little over half comprise 19th century farmsteads, only nine of which occupy
the sites of earlier, medieval, settlements. Most of the 19th century farms
derive from a phase of upland colonisation dating from the 1830's to the
1880's, and are typically associated with straight-sided fields where they do
not re-use the previously-abandoned field plots of an earlier period. Most
abandoned farms dating to this period are small-holdings of under 8ha leased
to agricultural workers and labourers in the moorland industries, notably
quarrying and mining. Typically they contain the single small farmhouse and
barn, sometimes with a stable and a piggery, clustered around small yards to
form a settlement nucleus amid their discrete block of fields defined by
hedgebanks. Although sited in remote areas on poor soils and heavily reliant
on the surrounding pasture resource, these settlements grew some crops and
some contain threshing barns and horse-mills. Many such small-holdings became
unviable with the specialisation of the moorland agricultural economy and
resulting amalgamation of farms in the late 19th century, coupled with the
collapse of many of the major moorland industries that supplemented the small-
holders' incomes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Against these
economic forces, these small-holdings suffered widespread abandonment
especially during the early 20th century. These small-holdings are a
distinctive form of settlement reflecting a short-lived episode in the
economic development of the Moor.
These medieval and post-medieval monuments form important elements of the
existing landscape; they provide evidence for the developing organisation of
medieval and later farming and settlement, its major phases of expansion onto
the uplands and demonstrate the successive changes in land use that have
affected the Moor.
This monument on Siblyback Moor has survived well. The prehistoric field
system displays clearly the manner of its layout and its incorporated hut
circles retain a good range of original features. The adjacent prehistoric
linear boundary and enclosure places the field system in its wider context of
prehistoric land allotment and these elements combine to demonstrate well the
nature of farming practices during the Bronze Age. The medieval field system
also survives well and, together with the post-medieval small-holding,
illustrates the manner and main phases of agricultural expansion onto the more
remote parts of the Moor during the historic period and the tendency to re-use
elements of earlier agricultural systems where appropriate in later periods.
The abandoned 19th century small-holding has survived well, retaining its
characteristic elements and with its layout intact, complete and unaffected by
subsequent modification. It is one of relatively few such 19th century
settlements on Bodmin Moor to have been sited on a recorded medieval
settlement site. The proximity of the monument to the other prehistoric,
medieval and post-medieval field systems and settlements along the Withey
Brook valley gives a rare opportunity to set into a broader context all of
these successive features and their developments through time. The presence
within the monument of a well-preserved prehistoric standing stone and the
location nearby of various Bronze Age ritual and funerary monuments shows well
the wider relationship between settlement and ritual activity among
prehistoric communities.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
consulted 1992, Carter, A./ Quinnell, N.V./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2473,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./Quinnell, N.V./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plot and field trace for SX 2374,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./Quinnell, N.V./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2373-4 & SX 2473-4,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./Quinnell, N.V./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2373-4 & SX 2473-4,
consulted 1992, Carter, A./Quinnell, N.V./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2373-4 & SX 2473-4,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1219,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.01,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.02,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.03,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.04,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.05,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.06,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.07,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.08,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.09,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.10,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.11,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1220.12,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1221.1,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1221.2,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1222,
consulted 1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1238,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1221.1; New Hall,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1221.2; Little Siblyback,
consulted 1994, Carter, A./CAU, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2373-2473; SX 2374-2474,
consulted 1994, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2373-2473 and SX 2474,
Herring, P., The Archaeological Heritage of Bodmin Moor (p.39), Unpubl typescript,p.39,consulted 1994
Herring, P., The Archaeological Heritage of Bodmin Moor (p.47), Unpubl typescript,p.47,consulted 1994
Mr Hooper, Upton Orchard, Upton Cross, Information spoken to MPP fieldworker, (1993)
p.219; post-med sett.; b; med origin, CAU, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. An Evaluation for the MPP., (1990)
p.486; SX 27 SW No.18, CAU/EH, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. An evaluation for the MPP., (1990)
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27 SW
Source Date: 1982
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:25000 First Series Ordnance Survey Map; sheet SX 27; Bodmin Moor (East)
Source Date: 1963
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Told to MPP fieldworker in Jan. 1993, Data from Mr Theo Hooper, Upton Orchard, Upton Cross, Liskeard, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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