Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric ritual enclosure 1.7km north west of Tresellern Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Altarnun, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5732 / 50°34'23"N

Longitude: -4.5121 / 4°30'43"W

OS Eastings: 222216.032888

OS Northings: 77842.179769

OS Grid: SX222778

Mapcode National: GBR NC.FBTG

Mapcode Global: FRA 17FK.9YM

Entry Name: Prehistoric ritual enclosure 1.7km NW of Tresellern Farm

Scheduled Date: 17 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012217

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15192

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Altarnun

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Altarnon with Bolventor

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a Prehistoric ritual enclosure situated in a slight
saddle on the north-west spur of the central hill of East Moor on eastern
Bodmin Moor. The enclosure forms one element of a local concentration of
broadly contemporary ceremonial and funerary monuments.
The ritual enclosure is visible as a `D'-shaped area of 0.13 hectares,
measuring 44.7m along its NNW-SSE long axis by a maximum 35m ENE-WSW along the
flattened NNW side. The enclosure is situated in an otherwise stone-free area
and is defined by a single, wavering, line of 42 small end-set stones, spaced
0.75m to 2m apart and generally projecting 0.1m above the thick peaty turf and
0.1m across, but up to 0.25m high and 0.4m across. At least a further 41
surviving stones along the enclosure boundary are lightly covered beneath
vegetation hummocks. The thicker peat deposit at the north-west sector of the
enclosure has obscured the stones over a distance of 17m.
Beyond this monument, the nearby sites broadly contemporary with this ritual
enclosure include a stone alignment, whose SSW slab is 135m to the south-east,
and two platform cairns, one associated with a second stone alignment,
situated on the summit of the hill, 187m and 270m to the south-east
respectively. The enclosure is crossed by two parallel modern hollowed
routeways across the moor, each 2m wide and 0.3m deep, averaging 16m apart on
a NE-SW axis.

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.

Ritual enclosures, in forms and settings inappropriate to agricultural
activities, are a frequent element among concentrations of funerary and
ceremonial monuments dating to the later Neolithic and Bronze Age periods
(c2400 - 1600 BC). In addition to their physical proximity to such ritual
areas, they also commonly share details of construction with such Prehistoric
ritual monuments, including definition by banks, ditches, spaced stones, pits
or posts. Prehistoric ritual enclosures vary considerably in form; those with
more regular shapes, such as stone circles, henges and linear enclosures known
as cursuses, comprise separate and well known classes of monument in their own
right, but a small number of less regular forms are also known in similar
settings and modes of construction. These may be individual expressions of the
regular forms or represent other monument classes, such as the `mortuary
enclosures' where the dead were kept before burial. We do not fully
understand the uses for which these monuments were constructed but it is clear
that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies that used them.
Due to their idiosyncratic form, they provide important information on the
diversity and nature of ritual activities among Prehistoric communities.
Although no figure is available for the number of such enclosures outside the
regular forms, it is clear that they comprise a very small proportion of the
total number of ritual enclosures. Because of their rarity and extreme
diversity, all surviving examples for which a Prehistoric date can be
demonstrated will be considered worthy of protection.

This ritual enclosure on East Moor is unique in Cornwall and has survived
well, with little of its area affected by the recent hollowed route-ways
passing through. Its mode of construction is shared by many later
Neolithic/Early Bronze Age ritual monuments, particularly some of the slighter
stone rows of south-west England, while its setting, in the saddle of a
hillslope surrounded on most sides by higher land, is entirely typical of
Prehistoric stone circles. The considerable antiquity of this monument is
further evidenced by the depth to which it is embedded into the peat, which
will also preserve the buried land surface and environmental evidence
contemporary with the monument's construction and use. The proximity of this
enclosure to a concentration of broadly contemporary funerary and ceremonial
monuments demonstrates well the diversity of ritual activity and the nature of
upland land use during the later Neolithic and Bronze Age periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Darvill, T C, 'Vorda Research Series' in The Megalithic Chambered Tombs of the Cotswold-Severn Region, (1982), 106,112
consulted 1992, Carter, A./RCHME, 1:2500 AP transcription for SX 2277,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1088,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1088.1,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1089,
consulted 3/1992, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1101,
pp142-3. Spaced-stone enclosure, CAU, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. An Evaluation for the MPP. (RE SM15192), (1990)

Source: Historic England

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