Ancient Monuments

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Unenclosed hut circle settlement, field boundaries, enclosure and cairn on Blacktor Downs

A Scheduled Monument in St. Neot, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5302 / 50°31'48"N

Longitude: -4.6015 / 4°36'5"W

OS Eastings: 215718.478347

OS Northings: 73284.43347

OS Grid: SX157732

Mapcode National: GBR N7.HZVT

Mapcode Global: FRA 177N.K5D

Entry Name: Unenclosed hut circle settlement, field boundaries, enclosure and cairn on Blacktor Downs

Scheduled Date: 17 March 1955

Last Amended: 6 November 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011701

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15028

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Neot

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Neot

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a large unenclosed hut circle settlement with associated
boundaries and an enclosure of Prehistoric date, and two small medieval
building foundations, covering in total a 5ha area on a S-facing hillslope in
the middle of Bodmin Moor. It is divided into two separate constraint areas.
The occupation area of the settlement itself covers 3.7ha and contains over
100 circular huts ranging from 3.5m to 7.5m in internal diameter, variously
built with single or double granite boulder walls and entrances facing
southerly orientations. Some huts are conjoined to others and many are linked
by lengths of curvilinear boulder walling, forming an agglomeration, within
the settlement, of small irregular enclosures with peripheral and contained
huts; one discrete small ovoid enclosure containing a hut circle also occurs
towards the S part of the settlement. At least seven huts have narrow
concentric annexes around part of their periphery. At the W edge of the
settlement are two small sub-rectangular enclosures, one immediately below the
other on the hillslope and each containing a hut circle built into its wall.
A massive-boulder wall, double-faced in places, runs NE-SW down the hillslope
20m W of the enclosures, and parallel to their W side, marking the division
between the concentrated settlement features and a Prehistoric field system to
the N and W. This wall has a gap of 52m between its SW and NE sections. The
NE part of the settlement includes a cairn comprising a hut-circle structure
roughly infilled by large boulders. A large elliptical enclosure, 105m by
55m, with a low boulder wall of similar character to those in the settlement
but largely buried beneath the turf, occurs on the lower hillslope SE of, and
immediately below, the settlement and is linked to it by a short length of
walling from its NW side. The settlement is located between 240m and 260m
contour lines on a well-drained S-facing hillside overlooking a small
tributary of the Warleggan River in central Bodmin Moor. Two rectangular
boulder-wall foundations, each using part of a Prehistoric enclosure wall for
one long side, provide evidence for renewed activity within the settlement in
the medieval period, probably associated with stone-working or tinning in
nearby areas. Apart from the Prehistoric field system close to the settlement
on the N and NW sides, the monument is also associated with a small cairn
cemetery and a hut circle on the summit plateau of the Blacktor Downs.
The modern post-and-wire fence along the SE side of the elliptical enclosure
is excluded from the scheduling but the land beneath it is included.

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
quality and diversity of the evidence is such that the moor has been the
subject of detailed archaeological survey and hence it forms one of the best
recorded upland landscapes in England. Of particular note are the extensive
relict landscapes of Prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date. Together
these provide direct evidence for human expoitation of the moor from the
earliest Prehistoric period onwards. The well-preserved and often visible
relationship betweeen 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.
Stone hut circles and hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of
Prehistoric farmers on Bodmin Moor, mostly dating from the Bronze Age, after
around 2000 BC. The stone-based round houses consist of low walls or banks
enclosing a circular floor area; remains of the turf or thatch roof are not
preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie
in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth and stone. Although they are
common on the moor, their longevity and their relationship with other monument
types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation
and farming practices amongst Prehistoric communities. They are particularly
representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving
examples are considered worthy of protection.

The monument at Blacktor Downs is especially well-preserved and of particular
importance in containing one of the largest and most extensive of such
settlements on Bodmin Moor, an importance enhanced by its unusual internal
arrangement and subdivisions, by its inclusion of enclosures, land boundaries
and a cairn, and by its broadly contemporary association with a nearby
Prehistoric field system and cairn cemetery, making this monument particularly
valuable in the study of Bronze Age settlement and agricultural organisation.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 102-3
Fleming, A, The Dartmoor Reaves, (1988), 76-7
Consulted 1/1991, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1758,
Consulted 1991, Carter, A/RCHME, 1:2500 Air Photo Transcription; SX 1573, (1991)
Forthc.; seen 1/1991; Figs 38.5, 46, CAU, RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey (Volume 1) (Figs 38.5, 46), The Prehistoric and Historic Landscape,
Forthcoming; draft text consulted, CAU, RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey (Volume 1), The Prehistoric and Historic Landscape,
Plate 16, Greeves, T A P, The Archaeology of Dartmoor from the Air, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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