Ancient Monuments

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Blacktor Downs irregular aggregate field system and clearance cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Blisland, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5319 / 50°31'54"N

Longitude: -4.6036 / 4°36'12"W

OS Eastings: 215577.0625

OS Northings: 73474.8433

OS Grid: SX155734

Mapcode National: GBR N7.HZ6V

Mapcode Global: FRA 177N.JB4

Entry Name: Blacktor Downs irregular aggregate field system and clearance cairn

Scheduled Date: 4 September 1991

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011725

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15035

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Blisland

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Neot

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes the boundaries of two curving, irregular Prehistoric
fields, the upper containing a stone-clearance cairn, on a SW-facing hillside
in central Bodmin Moor. It is divided into two separate constraint areas.
This field system comprises the low, wavering, stone-bank boundaries of two
fields, one immediately below the other, and both curving with the contour of
the hillside. The upper field, which survives for 150m along the contour by
80m wide, extends further SE than the lower field, surviving 97m along the
contour and 80m wide. Both fields have soil build-up - called lynchetting-
against and largely covering their downslope boundaries as a result of early
cultivation. The upper field contains a small circular mound, 4.5m diameter
and 0.75m high, partly turf-covered and formed of small boulders and smaller
stone, called a clearance cairn. Both fields have their NW ends truncated by
modern field intakes, and the presence of lynchetting along the upper bank of
the upper field indicates the former presence of a third, higher, Prehistoric
field in the summit area also affected by recent pasture improvement. These
fields are located on the upper SW-facing slope of the Blacktor Downs, within
125m of a large, Prehistoric, unenclosed hut circle settlement, and close to a
small cairn group and hut circle on the summit plateau of the Blacktor Downs.
The modern drystone intake walls to the NW and NE of the field system are
excluded from the scheduling where they impinge on the protected area, but
the land beneath them 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 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 late industrial remains provides significant insights
into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time.
Elaborate complexes of fields and field boundaries are some of the major
features of the Bodmin Moor landscape. Irregular aggregate field systems are
one of several methods of field layout known to have been employed in
south-west England from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c 2000 BC - 400
AD. They comprise a collection of field plots generally lacking conformity of
orientation and arrangement, often containing fields with sinuous outlines and
varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches
or fences. They are often focussed around or near settlement sites, and they
sometimes incorporate, or occur near, ceremonial and funerary monuments.
Their longevity and their various relationships with other monument types
provide important information on the diversity and development of social
organisation, land use 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
field system on the Blacktor Downs is reasonably well preserved and lies in
close proximity to broadly contemporary hut circle settlements, enclosures and
a cairn group. The relationship of the field system with these other features
is of particular note because in places its layout respects their location
whilst elsewhere it overlies elements of them. This demonsrates well the
chronological development of these various features and the pattern of
changing Prehistoric settlement and land use in this area of the moor.

Source: Historic England


00, 3/1988, Raymond, F, Monument Class Description: Irregular Aggregate Field Systems, (1988)
consulted 1/1991, Carter, A/RCHME, 1:2500 AP trancriptions for SX 1573 (cons. 1/1991),

Source: Historic England

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