Ancient Monuments

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Tor cairn on Showery Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Advent, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6021 / 50°36'7"N

Longitude: -4.6167 / 4°37'0"W

OS Eastings: 214920.323337

OS Northings: 81315.822109

OS Grid: SX149813

Mapcode National: GBR N7.CFXN

Mapcode Global: FRA 176G.Z23

Entry Name: Tor cairn on Showery Tor

Scheduled Date: 4 July 1973

Last Amended: 8 September 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011544

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15200

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Advent

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Breward

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a large prehistoric tor cairn situated around the
prominent granite stack of Showery Tor on north-west Bodmin Moor, near other
earlier and broadly contemporary funerary and ritual monuments, settlement
sites and field systems on the Roughtor Moors.
The tor cairn survives as a near-circular bank of heaped rubble, up to 13m
wide and 3m high, its external dimensions measuring 37m NNE-SSW by 30m WNW-
ESE. The rubble bank encircles the natural granite stack which rises 5m high
from the summit of Showery Tor, the crest of the bank following a course 5m-
10m beyond the outer faces of the stack. This results in a broad concentric
interior hollow with a base of consolidated rubble between the bank and the
stack. Relatively recent stone-robbing has produced several minor irregular
hollows in the bank, especially in its southern sector, and has created rifts
across the bank over a 15m length in its northern sector, where the main
access was clearly gained for this stone robbing. At no point, however, has
the robbing reached the base of the rubble forming the bank or the interior
Beyond this monument, a prehistoric ritual avenue of stone banks, 150m to the
west, is orientated on this prominent tor cairn, while 300m to the SSW and
clearly visible from the tor cairn, the summit saddle of Roughtor is
encompassed by the walls of an earlier, Neolithic, defended enclosure.
Extensive settlements, field systems, linear boundaries and cairns broadly
contemporary with this tor cairn survive nearby on the lower western slopes of
the Roughtor-Showery Tor ridge.

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 relationships 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. Tor cairns are ceremonial monuments dating to the Early and
Middle Bronze Age (c.2000-1000 BC). They were constructed as a ring bank of
stone rubble, up to 35m in external diameter, sometimes with an entrance and
an external ditch, and roughly concentric around a natural rock outcrop or
tor. In some cases a kerb of edge-set stones bounds the inner edge of the bank
and the area between the bank and the outcrop was sometimes infilled by laying
down a platform of stone rubble or turves. Excavated examples have revealed
post-holes and pits within the area defined by the ring-bank, some containing
burial evidence, and scatters of Bronze Age artefacts concentrated around the
central tor. Tor cairns usually occur as isolated monuments, though several
are associated with broadly contemporary cairn cemeteries. They are very rare
nationally with only 40-50 known examples concentrated on the higher moors of
Devon and Cornwall, where their situation in prominent locations makes them a
major visual element in the modern landscape. As a rare monument type a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

This tor cairn on Showery Tor has survived well despite the relatively recent
and well-defined actions of stone robbers. It is the largest known example of
a tor cairn and retains intact many clear features distinctive to its class,
including the peripheral bank, inner hollow, central natural outcrop and has
a prominent location. Its proximity to other broadly contemporary ceremonial,
funerary and settlement sites demonstrates well the nature of ritual practices
and the organisation of land use during the Bronze Age, while the presence of
the earlier prehistoric defended enclosure nearby shows the development of
that land use from the Neolithic period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982)
Miles, H, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Barrows on the St Austell Granite, Cornwall, , Vol. 14, (1975)
CAU/RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey, Unpubl. draft text. Ch.4, 1.3, fig 17
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 1480-1,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3298,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3307,
consulted 5/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3384,
Darvill, T C, MPP Monument Class Description for 'Tor Cairns', (1989)
Johnson, N D and Sharpe, A, 1:100 plans; Showery Tor Cairn, CAU Ref. Nos. GRH 124/7/5-6, (1984)
Mercer, R J, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 864, 1972,

Source: Historic England

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