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Prehistoric co-axial and regular aggregate field systems with incorporated and adjacent hut circle settlements on Bastreet Downs, south of Bowda Farm

A Scheduled Monument in North Hill, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5648 / 50°33'53"N

Longitude: -4.4762 / 4°28'34"W

OS Eastings: 224723.665573

OS Northings: 76818.925203

OS Grid: SX247768

Mapcode National: GBR NF.FN25

Mapcode Global: FRA 17HK.ZXT

Entry Name: Prehistoric co-axial and regular aggregate field systems with incorporated and adjacent hut circle settlements on Bastreet Downs, south of Bowda Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 December 1974

Last Amended: 14 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011558

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15205

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: North Hill

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: North Hill

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes the parallel boundaries of a prehistoric co-axial field
system, two sectors of which contain broadly contemporary regular aggregate
field systems, stone hut circle settlements and two isolated hut circles, in
addition to evidence for medieval exploitation of the Downs. One of the
regular field systems incorporates one stone hut circle settlement, the other
is adjacent to such a settlement. The two isolated hut circles are located
adjacent to other boundaries of the co-axial field system. The monument is
situated across the southern slope of the Bastreet Downs on eastern Bodmin
Moor.
The prehistoric co-axial field system is visible as six, near-parallel walls
of turf-covered heaped rubble up to 1.5m wide and 0.8m high, running for 1.1km
ENE-WSW along the contour of the Downs, the uppermost along the crest of the
slope and the lowermost running near to the edge of the valley floor. The
walling incorporates occasional edge - and end-set slabs up to 0.9m high. Its
walls range from 50m to 110m apart in the eastern half of the monument, where
the courses of parts of its wall-lines have been preserved by modern field
walls, and converge slightly to range from 35m to over 78m apart at their
western ends where recent pasture clearance interrupts them near their
original termination at the edge of Tresellern Marsh. An original break in
the field system occurs near the centre of the Downs, where the second to
fourth lowest walls were not constructed across the densely scree-strewn
hillslope. The overall network provided by the co-axial field system was
infilled in two sectors by the finer subdividing walls of prehistoric regular
aggregate field systems, their boundaries of similar character to those of the
co-axial field system. In the monument's south-eastern quarter the lower
three co-axial boundaries were linked at intervals of 50m-100m by walling
running downslope, NW-SE, forming sub-rectangular plots of 0.3ha-0.7 ha.
The western three plots of this field system are further subdivided by walling
along and across the contour forming a grid-pattern of plots of 0.06ha-0.2ha,
whose pattern reveals their successive formation in blocks,
westwards and northwards. The other regular aggregate field system is
situated towards the western end of the co-axial field system where
subdividing walls between the third and fifth co-axial boundaries from the
valley floor create a single row of small rectangular plots, of 0.06ha-0.15ha,
along the west, south and east sides of a large rectangular plot, of
0.9 ha, located between the fourth and fifth boundaries.
The monument contains two hut circle settlements centred 785m apart. One of
these is incorporated in the finely subdivided western part of the south-
eastern regular field system. This settlement contains six stone hut circles,
distributed as two adjoining pairs situated 70m apart along the contour and
two single hut circles, 47m north-west and 35m south-east of the western pair.
The western pair is contained within a small sub-triangular plot of 0.04
ha, while the others are located against field boundaries. Each hut
circle survives with a wall of heaped rubble, up to 1.25m wide and 0.7m high,
defining a circular internal area levelled into the hillslope. The hut circle
interiors of this settlement range from 4m to 7.5m in diameter and their
walling incorporates occasional edge-set inner and outer facing slabs.
Entrance gaps are visible in three hut circle walls, facing variously NW, SW
and SE, and marked in one instance by an edge-set slab placed across the
wall-line on one side.
The other hut circle settlement is located immediately north-west of the
surviving western end of the co-axial field system and contains nine stone hut
circles distributed as a cluster of eight hut circles, 5m-35m apart over an
area of 1 ha, with the ninth situated 62m to the south-east. The hut
circles were constructed in a similar manner to those of the other settlement,
with internal diameters ranging from 6.5m-10m, and more frequent inner and
outer facing slabs along the walling. Entrance gaps are visible in four
examples, facing north-west or south-west and marked in one example by end-set
slabs, called orthostats, 0.6m high. The two hut circles at the north-east
edge of the settlement each have walling for a concentric annexe beyond their
eastern halves, while the settlement's western hut circle abuts a small
subrectangular levelled plot against its north-west side. Traces of broadly
contemporary field walling are located in the intervening areas between these
hut circles, including part of one of the upper co-axial boundaries.
The monument also includes two separate hut circles situated 72m apart along
the contour, close to the upper co-axial boundaries in the modern enclosed
pasture fields in the north-east part of the monument; these have been partly
robbed of their wall stone by recent clearance but survive with turf-covered
rubble walls, up to 1m wide and 0.2m high, defining levelled interiors, 7m-
8m in diameter. The south-west hut circle has a raised sub-rectangular
platform, measuring 8m by 6m and 0.4m high, extending from its north-east
side.
Evidence for medieval exploitation of the Downs, survives in the form
of a curving boundary of heaped rubble, up to 1.5m wide and 0.7m high, with a
slight outer ditch, which crosses into the north-eastern edge of the monument,
causing short breaks in the prehistoric co-axial boundaries where it passes
across them. The area contained within this boundary, to its north, shows
traces of medieval cultivation ridges. More recent, post-medieval, activity
includes the modern field walls that overlie the courses of parts of the co-
axial boundaries in the east and south of the monument and a small rectangular
stock-pen, measuring internally 3.5m NW-SE by 2.5m wide, and built relatively
recently into the northern part of a hut circle wall in the western hut circle
settlement. Beyond the monument, modern field walls to the immediate north-
west overlie the boundaries of an adjoining prehistoric co-axial field system
which is orientated at right-angles to that on the Bastreet Downs and which
extends for 1.1km to the north-west over the summit of Ridge hill,
incorporating further hut circle settlements and broadly contemporary cairns.
All modern post-and-wire and wooden fences, all gates and gate-fittings, the
surface of the metalled road to the water works and the electricity supply
lines and their posts and fittings are excluded from the scheduling but the
ground beneath them is included. An area of rough terrain in the centre of
the monument is not included in the scheduling as no extension to the field
system was constructed there.

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.

Co-axial and regular aggregate field systems are among the several methods of
land division employed on the Moor during the Bronze Age (c.2000 - 750 BC).
Evidence from nearby Dartmoor indicates the introduction of co-axial field
systems around 1700 BC and their continued use to around 1000 BC. They
consists of linear stone banks forming long parallel boundaries running to
meet similar, terminal, boundaries crossing their ends. The parallel
boundaries frequently run upslope so that the terminal boundaries also
separate the enclosed fields from the open grazing of the higher moor, but
this pattern may be varied in complex terrain. The extensive long strips
formed by the parallel boundaries may be subdivided by cross-banks to form a
series of rectangular field plots, each sharing a common long axis. The
parallel strips may also be infilled by much finer plot subdivisions, forming
subordinate 'neighbourhood' field systems within the overall co-axial field
system. Where these smaller scale, contained, field systems comprise plots
defined by boundaries at right-angles to each other they come into the
category of regular aggregate field systems. These may show evidence for
being laid out before, contemporary with, or later than the construction of
the co-axial parallel boundaries, and they sometimes show evidence for
development by the addition of further blocks or layers of small rectilinear
fields within the co-axial system.
This co-axial field system, its contained regular aggregate field systems and
incorporated and adjacent hut circle settlements have survived well despite
some later re-use and partial clearance in the monument's eastern and western
sectors. The monument shows clearly the variable intensity of prehistoric
settlement within the overall co-axial field system, providing the
contemporary context for the well-preserved hut circle settlements contained
within it and demonstrating well the nature of land use and farming practices
and their relation to the topography during the Bronze Age. The monument is
unusual in containing a co-axial field system at a relatively low level and
running along a valley side, the significance of which is increased by the
adjacent survival, preserved by modern field boundaries, of parts of the
broadly contemporary Ridge co-axial field system on an axis at right angles to
that in this monument. Together with the Ridge field system, this monument
provides a key element in the rare survival of interlocking Bronze Age land
divisions extending from a valley floor to the limit of Bronze Age enclosure
on the high moor. The partial re-use of some boundaries and areas within the
monument during the medieval and post-medieval period illustrates the
successive developments in land use since the prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
King, G, Sheppard, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Parochial Checklist of Antiquities 10: Parish of North Hill, , Vol. 18, (1979)
Other
consulted 1/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 2476 & Sx 2477,
consulted 1/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 2476-7 & SX 2576-7,
consulted 1/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcriptions for SX 2476 & SX 2576,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entries for PRN 1053 & 1055,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1052,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1053,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1054.01,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1054.02,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1055,
consulted 1/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3615,
consulted 1/1992, Quinnell, N. V./RCHME, 1:2500 AP Supplementary Field Traces for SX 2476 & SX 2477,
consulted 2/1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2476,
Mercer, R J, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 884, 1972,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Maps, SX 27 NW & SX 27 NE
Source Date:
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 6": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map
Source Date: 1907
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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