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Prehistoric irregular field system with incorporated cairnfield and round cairn 1.08km north-west of Showery Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Advent, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6081 / 50°36'29"N

Longitude: -4.6286 / 4°37'43"W

OS Eastings: 214102.137457

OS Northings: 82007.297415

OS Grid: SX141820

Mapcode National: GBR N6.C4VJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 176G.DKY

Entry Name: Prehistoric irregular field system with incorporated cairnfield and round cairn 1.08km north-west of Showery Tor

Scheduled Date: 21 December 1976

Last Amended: 8 September 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011546

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15212

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 prehistoric irregular aggregate field system
incorporating a broadly contemporary cairnfield and a prehistoric round
funerary cairn. The monument is situated near other broadly contemporary
cairns, settlement sites, field systems and linear boundaries on the lower
north-western slope of the Showery Tor ridge on north-west Bodmin Moor. The
field system contained in this monument forms the north-western sector of a
formerly more extensive prehistoric field system which was partly dismantled
during the Bronze Age in the earliest of at least three successive changes in
prehistoric land-use indicated by the relationships of nearby prehistoric
monuments on this hillside.
The prehistoric field system is defined by walling of heaped rubble, up to 2m
wide and 0.4m high. The wavering course of the walls define one complete
ovoid plot in the north-east part of the monument. The plot measures 108m
north-south by up to 68m east-west and encompasses 0.6 hectares. An entrance
in this plot's northern edge is marked by two edge-set slabs spaced 1.75m
apart in the wall-line. Similarly walling of an adjoining plot extends from
the north-west and western edges of the ovoid plot, encompassing 0.14
hectares, to a line where its north-western sector has been truncated by
medieval tin mining along the valley floor. Another wall dividing former
plots adjoining to the south and south-west extends from the ovoid plot's
south-west edge, visible for 50m to the south to where its partly dismantled
course becomes submerged beneath the peaty turf. Forty metres beyond that
point, its projected course is crossed by a similar rubble wall defining the
northern side of another plot. The latter wall survives for 150m on an ENE-
WSW axis, curving towards the south at each end where it also becomes
progressively slight due to its partial dismantling in prehistory. The
eastern, uphill, sides of most of the field system walls have a substantial
build-up of soil against the wall rubble resulting from the combined effects
of prehistoric cultivation and gravity on the slope, a process called
The area encompassed by the irregular field system walling contains at least
eleven small mounds of heaped rubble, called clearance cairns. These result
from the accumulation of surface stone within the field plots during
prehistoric cultivation and from the aggregation of the field-wall rubble on
the former wall-lines during the later partial dismantling of the field
system. Nine of the clearance cairns are near-circular, up to 3.75m in
diameter and 0.3m high, and two are formed as short linear mounds, up to 7.5m
long, 1.75m wide and 0.2m high. Four are situated on the wall-line of the
irregular ovoid plot and the truncated plot to its north-west; the others are
located over 0.6 hectares in the eastern part of the prehistoric field south-
west of the ovoid plot. Such an aggregation of small clearance cairns is
called a cairnfield.
The monument also contains a larger round funerary cairn, situated on the
junction of the south-west sector wall of the ovoid plot with the wall
extending to the south. The cairn survives as a near-circular mound of heaped
rubble, 7.3m in diameter and up to 0.4m high. Partial clearance of the
prehistoric field walls on their approach to the cairn demonstrates the
cairn's construction during the later phase when the irregular field system
was being dismantled. Relatively recent stone robbing from the cairn has
produced shallow hollows in its upper surface and has spread some of its mound
rubble on its northern and western peripheries.
Beyond this monument, traces of the early irregular field system reappear
from 175m to the south and 300m to the south-east, while further, broadly
contemporary, funerary cairns are situated from 70m to the south. Extensive
and broadly contemporary hut circle settlements spread along the hillslope
from 150m to the south, while a major prehistoric linear boundary runs up the
slope from 50m south of the monument.

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, field boundaries and enclosures are a major
feature of the Moor landscape. Several methods of field layout are known to
have been employed in south-west England from the Bronze Age to the Roman
period (c.20000 BC - 400 AD). These include irregular aggregate field systems
which comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking in conformity of
orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous outlines and
varying shapes and sizes and bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks,
ditches or fences. They are frequently associated with small heaps of stone,
usually cleared from the surface before or during the plots' use, called
clearance cairns, which may form dense concentrations, called cairnfields.
The field systems are often located around or near settlement sites and they
sometimes incorporate, or occur near, ceremonial or funerary monuments. Among
the funerary monuments, round cairns date to the Bronze Age (c.2000 - 700 BC)
and cover single or multiple burials. They were constructed as mounds of
earth and rubble up to 40m in diameter but usually much smaller; a kerb of
edge-set stones sometimes bounds the edges of the mound. Burials were placed
in small pits, or on occasion within a box-like structure called a cist, set
into the old ground surface or dug into the body of the cairn. Round cairns
can occur as isolated monuments or in small groups or larger cemeteries. Each
of these types of monument forms an important element of the existing
landscape and is representative of its period. Their longevity of use and
their relationships with other monument types provide important information on
the organisation of farming activities and on the nature and diversity of
funerary practices among prehistoric communities.
This monument on the lower north-west slope of Showery Tor survives well, with
only minor and limited disturbance from the actions of recent stone-robbers.
The monument's walling and cairns have been surveyed in detail. The monument
contains rare visible evidence for a sequence of land-use changes affecting
one area during the Bronze Age. The inclusion of a field system and funerary
cairn into that sequence demonstrates well the nature and development of
farming practices and the relationship between farming and funerary activities
during the Bronze Age. The proximity of the monument to other broadly
contemporary field systems, settlement sites, linear boundaries and
cairns preserves unusually intact the wider context within which those
important developments and relationships in the monument were formed. The
considerable lynchetting present in parts of the monument will preserve old
land surfaces and environmental evidence contemporary with its sequence of
construction and use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Woolf, C, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Dorothy Dudley - ... An Appreciation, , Vol. 14, (1975)
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 1481-2,
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 1481,
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 1482,
Consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 AP trancriptions for SX 1481 NW and SX 1482 SW,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey, SX 1481 NW,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey, SX 1482 SW,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Surveys, SX 1481 NW and SX 1482 SW,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entries for PRN 3292-3,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3286.1,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3286.2 - 3286.12,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3290,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3291,
consulted 10/19991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3299.1,
Rees, S, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 1044, 1976,

Source: Historic England

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