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Early medieval transhumance hut 740m west of Blackcoombe Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Linkinhorne, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5402 / 50°32'24"N

Longitude: -4.4552 / 4°27'18"W

OS Eastings: 226126.359

OS Northings: 74036.3085

OS Grid: SX261740

Mapcode National: GBR NG.H7GZ

Mapcode Global: FRA 17KM.VHJ

Entry Name: Early medieval transhumance hut 740m west of Blackcoombe Farm

Scheduled Date: 1 December 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011899

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15162

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Linkinhorne

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Linkinhorne

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a small, sub-rectangular transhumance hut situated
uphill from a large medieval enclosure and close to an extensive Prehistoric
field system on the northern slope of the east spur of the Langstone Downs on
SE Bodmin Moor.
The hut survives with turf-covered walls of heaped rubble, up to 1m wide and
0.5m high, defining a levelled sub-rectangular area measuring internally 2m
east-west by 1.4m north-south. An entrance gap, 1m wide, takes up most of the
wall's eastern side. This hut is typical of early medieval stock-herders' huts
on Bodmin Moor occupied during summer pasturing of stock on the uplands, the
result of the seasonal movement of herds called transhumance.

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.

Transhumance huts are small, seasonally occupied herdsman's huts built to
provide shelter while tending herds grazing summer pasture on uplands or
marshland. These huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby stock was
moved in spring from lowland pastures about the permanently occupied farms to
communal upland grazing during the warmer summer months. Settlement patterns
reflecting transhumance are known from the Bronze Age (c2000 - 700 BC)
onwards, but the construction of herdsman's huts in a form distinctive from
the normal dwelling houses of farmers only appears from the early medieval
period onwards (from AD 450), when the practice of transhumance is also known
from documentary sources, notably place-name studies. Their construction
generally comes to an end by the 16th century. Transhumance huts are typically
small, up to 10m long by 5m wide externally, but commonly much smaller, and
may occur singly or in groups of over 15. They have a simple sub-rectangular
or ovoid plan, normally defined by dry stone walling though occasional
turf-built structures are known, and the huts are occasionally surrounded by a
ditch. Most examples have a single, undivided interior, though some two-roomed
examples are known. Some transhumance huts have adjacent ancillary structures,
such as pens, and may be associated with a midden. Some are also contained
within a small ovoid enclosure. Other upland activities, including mining and
hunting, may in some instances have produced similar shelters, employing the
same construction tradition. At least 250 transhumance huts are known
nationally of which at least 50 are recorded from Bodmin Moor, though this
number is expected to increase with future recognition. Transhumance huts
represent a significant component of the surviving remains of medieval upland
landscapes, providing important information on the nature of settlement and
farming practices during the medieval period. Those examples which survive
well and which help illustrate the use of land in the medieval period are
considered worthy of protection.

This transhumance hut on the Langstone Downs has survived well, with no
visible or recorded disturbance. Its proximity to Prehistoric land boundaries
and field systems, and to a broadly contemporary enclosure nearby in the
valley, demonstrates well the nature of farming practices and the development
of land use from the Prehistoric to the medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


consulted 7/1991, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2674,
Forthcoming; draft text consulted, CAU, RCHME, The Bodmin Moor Survey (Volume 1), The Prehistoric and Historic Landscape,

Source: Historic England

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