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Prehistoric irregular field system and enclosures with incorporated stone hut circle and incorporated and adjacent cairns 558m north-west of Showery Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Advent, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6056 / 50°36'20"N

Longitude: -4.6223 / 4°37'20"W

OS Eastings: 214543.042321

OS Northings: 81711.676879

OS Grid: SX145817

Mapcode National: GBR N7.C6HC

Mapcode Global: FRA 176G.P1H

Entry Name: Prehistoric irregular field system and enclosures with incorporated stone hut circle and incorporated and adjacent cairns 558m north-west of Showery Tor

Scheduled Date: 8 September 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011577

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15211

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Advent

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Breward

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric irregular aggregate field system on which
two later prehistoric enclosures were superimposed, one of the enclosures
incorporating a stone hut circle. The walling of both the field system and
enclosures was partly dismantled in prehistoric times, creating a small
cairnfield and seven round funerary cairns. The monument is situated near
other broadly contemporary cairns, settlement sites, field systems and linear
boundaries on the north-western slope of the Showery Tor ridge on north-west
Bodmin Moor. The prehistoric field system is defined by walling of heaped
rubble, up to 1.5m wide and 0.3m high, and is visible as a central irregular
pentagonal plot. Incomplete lengths of walling from neighbouring plots extend
for up to 40m south-west from its western edge and north from its northern
edge, continuing as buried features in deep hillslope peat deposits. The
central plot encompassed approximately 1.5 hectares but survives, encroached
upon by the later enclosures to the east and west, obscuring its full earlier
extent. The western sector of this plot also contains partly cleared traces
of similarly slight rubble walling defining contiguous small irregular plots
of c.0.04 hectares, each curving across the slope. The two later enclosures
are defined by more massive walling of heaped rubble, up to 3m wide and 0.5m
high, and are situated 100m apart, cutting across the earlier plot's western
and eastern boundaries, which were cleared from the enclosure interiors. The
two enclosures are each sub-rectangular, the western encompassing 0.4 hectares
and the eastern, 0.55 hectares. Their western, downhill, walls have a
considerable build-up of soil against their uphill sides resulting from the
combined effects of prehistoric cultivation and gravity on the slope, a
process called lynchetting. The eastern enclosure contains a single stone hut
circle, situated 4m east of its western wall. The hut circle is visible as a
wall of heaped rubble, up to 1.25m wide and 0.3m high, defining a circular
internal area 4.5m in diameter.
The walls of both the earlier field system and the enclosures were partly
dismantled and cleared, leaving breaks in their walls, during a second change
in land-use during the prehistoric period. The rubble resulting from
dismantling the earlier walling was gathered together in two ways. Over a
0.3 ha area at the southern end of the earlier irregular plot, the rubble was
heaped to form at least twelve very small mounds, called clearance cairns, up
to 3.5m in diameter and 0.3m high, some touching each other and several
situated along short remnants of the former southern wall of the irregular
plot. Such an aggregation of small clearance cairns is called a cairnfield.
Elsewhere in the monument the rubble was heaped into larger discrete mounds
whose size, and in some cases, visible structural features, indicate that they
were round funerary cairns. Seven such cairns are visible, surviving as near-
circular mounds of heaped rubble, ranging from 5.5m to 16m in diameter and
rising to a maximum 1.2m high. Relatively recent stone robbing has produced
shallow hollows in the upper surface of all of their mounds.
The funerary cairns are loated on or near the walls of the two sub-rectangular
enclosures and are accompanied by partial or complete removal of the portions
of those walls adjacent to them. The western enclosure has two cairns; one,
6.5m in diameter and 0.5m high, is situated near the centre of its eastern
wall; the other, 16m in diameter and 0.4m high, is located on its north-east
corner and is formed as a low platform on which relatively recent stone-
robbing has revealed several slabs from a peripheral kerb on the platform. The
remaining cairns are located about the eastern enclosure. The cairn on its
north-east corner measures 5.5m in diameter, rising 0.5m high, and has a
double kerb of edge-set slabs projecting around the upper surface of its
mound, the outer kerb measuring 2.9m in diameter. A cairn 7m in diameter and
0.3m high is situated 10m beyond the enclosure's north-west corner, also on
the line of the earlier irregular plot's wall. Another cairn, 6.75m in
diameter and 0.7m high, is situated 14m within the enclosure's south-west
corner, while at the corner itself a cairn measuring 8.5m in diameter and 1.1m
high has a 6m wide lobe of heaped rubble, 0.8m high, extending westwards for
7m along the line of the enclosure wall to a ground-fast boulder at the
corner. A large cairn, 15.5m in diameter and up to 1.2m high, is situated
beside the enclosure's south-eastern walling. Beyond this monument, traces of
the early irregular field system re-appear 30m to the west and south-west,
while further broadly contemporary funerary cairns are situated 30m away to
both north and south. Extensive and broadly contemporary hut circle
settlements are situated on the lower slope 210m to the south-west, while a
major prehistoric linear boundary runs up the slope, passing 15m south-west of
the monument.

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 field, 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.2000 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. Enclosures are discrete plots of land constructed
as stock pens or as protected areas for crop-growing. Both irregular field
systems and enclosures are 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 and enclosures are often located around or near settlement sites and
they sometimes incorporate or occur near ceremonial or funerary monuments.
The settlement sites typically include stone hut circles, which were the
dwelling places of prehistoric farmers on the Moor, mostly dating from the
Bronze Age (c.2000 BC - 700 BC). The stone-based round houses consist of low
walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; remains of a turf or thatch
roof are not preserved. The huts occur singly or in small or large groups and
may occur in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth or stone. Round
cairns also date to the Bronze Age and are funerary monuments covering 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 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 remain clearly visible on the hillside and 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
incorporation of field systems, hut circles, enclosures and funerary cairns
into that sequence demonstrates well the nature and development of farming
practices, the diversity of burial monuments 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 and deep peat deposits 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

Sources

Books and journals
Harris, D, Trudgian, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in The Excavation Of Three Cairns At Stannon, Bodmin Moor, , Vol. 23, (1984)
Other
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 1573,
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 1481,
consulted 10/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 transcriptions for SX 2278-9,
Consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:100 survey of cairn, PRN 3288.8,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey, SX 1481 NE,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey, SX 1481 NW,
consulted 10/1991, CAU, 1:1000 Survey, SX 1481 NW/NE,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.03 - .09,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.1,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.11,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.3,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.6,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.7,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.8,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3288.9,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3293,
consulted 10/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3299.2,
consulted 10/19991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3299.1,
conversation at CAU, Truro, 27/5/1992, Peter Rose, CAU SFO, pref. interpretn. in discussion with MPPFW, (1992)
Cornwall SMR for PRN 3288.5,
platform cairn with peripheral bank, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1404,

Source: Historic England

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