Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Platform cairn on Priddacombe Downs

A Scheduled Monument in Altarnun, Cornwall

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 50.5649 / 50°33'53"N

Longitude: -4.5955 / 4°35'43"W

OS Eastings: 216275.763222

OS Northings: 77121.17868

OS Grid: SX162771

Mapcode National: GBR N8.FMF3

Mapcode Global: FRA 178K.TQB

Entry Name: Platform cairn on Priddacombe Downs

Scheduled Date: 10 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015214

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15475

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 large platform cairn with a perimeter bank and
internal mound situated on the summit of Priddacombe Downs in the central part
of Bodmin Moor.
The cairn is visible as a large low mound, 33m in diameter, rising to a
flattened platform generally 0.4m high. The platform's western perimeter is
defined by a slight bank, 2.5m wide and rising 0.1m above the platform surface
except where a small incursion of much later peat-cutting causes a break in
the south west sector. Traces of the perimeter bank around the platform's
eastern side are also visible on air photographs of the cairn.
Where adjacent peat-cuts abut the cairn's edge on the north and north east,
they expose a line of contiguous laid slabs forming a kerb along the outer
edge of the cairn's perimeter bank. The kerb line also includes three spaced
slabs projecting through the turf on the west and north west edge of the
cairn. Within the perimeter bank is a markedly off-centre, oval, internal
mound measuring 17.5m WNW-ESE by 13m NNE-SSW and rising 0.2m high on the SSW
sector of the cairn's platform.
This cairn on the domed summit of Priddacombe Downs forms one of a series of
surviving broadly contemporary cairns situated on or about the summits of
adjacent hills in this part of Bodmin Moor; several of those cairns are
inter-visible with this cairn and others were visible prior to the recent
forestry plantation on the south and west slopes of the downs. This pattern of
summit cairns is complemented by surviving prehistoric hut circle settlements
and field systems on the neighbouring lower slopes and spurs, including
examples on Stanning Hill to the SSE of this scheduling, on the Butterstor
Downs to the west and on the Catshole Downs to the NNE.

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. Platform cairns are funerary monuments covering single or
multiple burials and dating to the Early Bronze Age (c.2000-1600 BC). They
were constructed as low flat-topped mounds of stone rubble up to 40m in
external diameter. Some examples have other features, including peripheral
banks and internal mounds, constructed on this platform. A kerb of edge-set
stones sometimes bounds the edges of the platform, bank or mound, or all
three. Platform cairns occur as isolated monuments, in small groups, or in
cairn cemeteries. In the latter instances they are normally found alongside
cairns of other types. Although no precise figure is available, current
evidence indicates that there are under 250 known examples of this monument
class nationally. As a rare monument type exhibiting considerable variation in
form, a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

This platform cairn on Priddacombe Downs survives well, with no recorded
archaeological excavation and only limited disturbance evident from the much
later peat-cutting. In diameter it is one of the largest cairns on Bodmin Moor
and is the largest of the moor's platform cairns, displaying clearly its
distinctive form, the off-centre internal mound being an unusual feature. Its
summit location, reflected also by cairns on neighbouring hills, shows well
the importance of, and respect for, landforms in prehistoric funerary and
ritual activity. The relationship between such activity and broadly
contemporary settlement is demonstrated by a good survival of hut circles and
prehistoric field systems on nearby slopes and spurs.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Trahair, J E R, 'Cornish Archaeology' in A survey of cairns on Bodmin Moor, , Vol. 17, (1978), 3-24
CUC air photos: RC8 BU 50 & 51; SX 1677, Priddacombe Downs, (1976)
Fletcher, M J, NAR entry for Antiquity No. SX 17 NE 25, (1973)
Quinnell, N V, RCHME Record, Field Report and Survey Plan; NAR entry SX17NE 25, (1984)
SMR printout on 4th June 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3164; Priddacombe Downs Cairn,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map: SX 17 NE
Source Date: 1988

Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map: SX 07/17, Pathfinder 1338, Bodmin Moor (West)
Source Date: 1988

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.