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Bowl barrow on St Agnes Beacon 350m west of Cannonball Farm

A Scheduled Monument in St. Agnes, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.3073 / 50°18'26"N

Longitude: -5.2173 / 5°13'2"W

OS Eastings: 171009.866598

OS Northings: 50216.830623

OS Grid: SW710502

Mapcode National: GBR Z4.KLMK

Mapcode Global: VH125.JJ5R

Entry Name: Bowl barrow on St Agnes Beacon 350m west of Cannonball Farm

Scheduled Date: 12 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016443

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29667

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Agnes

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Agnes

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes a mound or cairn on St Agnes Beacon which has been
interpreted as a Bronze Age bowl barrow later used as the site of a fire
beacon and, in the late 18th century, providing the platform for a prospect
tower (so called for the views which they usually command). The mound is
located on a hill overlooking the village of St Agnes to the east and the
coastal promontory of St Agnes Head to the north west. It is indicated as a
barrow on the Ordnance Survey map of 1876.
The barrow mound, which is about 3.8m in height and 30m in diameter, was a
significant feature in the landscape and stood at the end of a line of three
cairns which were visible in the period 1710-1720. The shape, raised position
and favourable location of the mound, with its all round visibility, led to it
being chosen for the site of a fire beacon. These were also the reasons which
led it to be selected for the site of a prospect tower (described in near
contemporary literature as a summerhouse) which was built in the later years
of the 18th century. This is considered to have caused the barrow to have a
flat squarish top. In 1796 work began on the Ordnance Survey mapping of
Cornwall and a trigonometrical point was set up on the south side of the mound
presumably because at this time the summit was still occupied by the tower.
The tower stood on the mound until at least 1819 when it was in a partly
ruinous state and its presence must have dictated the re-siting of the beacon
during the Napoleonic Wars, most probably to one of the two other nearby cairn
mounds, both of which were subsequently largely destroyed. By 1846 the tower
has ceased to appear on maps and the monument is depicted as a steep mound
with evenly sloping sides, consistent with its late 20th century appearance.
The outer matrix of the mound, which is known to comprise of stones ranging
from 10cms-35cms in length, is believed to represent the debris of the
collapsed tower which has encased the underlying Bronze Age deposits and which
has resulted in the roughly square-shaped appearance of the mound.
An Ordnance Survey trigonometrical point was located on the summit of the
mound in 1937, the earlier point on the southern slope having been lost. In
1998 the trig point was converted to serve as a toposcope and some material
was added to the area around it to consolidate the summit and prevent visitor
erosion.
The debris field of the collapsed prospect tower is included in the scheduling
as it acts to protect the underlying Bronze Age deposits.
The stone-clad toposcope is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
protection.

The barrow on St Agnes Beacon occupies a commanding position in the landscape
which was important in its secondary and later role as a beacon site. Many
beacons were first set up in response to the threat of the Spanish Armada in
the 1580s and the beacon at St Agnes may have been one of these, although the
first known record of the beacon confirmed at the site of the monument dates
from the early 1700s. Despite some modification of its profile as a result of
the accumulation of collapsed material from the later 18th century prospect
tower, the barrow will contain archaeological and environmental evidence
relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was built.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Douch, H L, Pool, P A S, 'Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, New Series' in The Parish of St Agnes by Thomas Tonkin, (1975), 195-200
Douch, H L, Pool, P A S, 'Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, New Series' in The Parish of St Agnes by Thomas Tonkin, (1975), 195-200
Preston-Jones, A, 'The Journal of the St Agnes Museum' in St Agnes Beacon, (1997), 3-29
Preston-Jones, A, 'The Journal of the St Agnes Museum' in St Agnes Beacon, (1997), 3-29
Warner, R, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Parish of St Agnes, , Vol. 1, (1962), 113
Other
Title: Ordnance Survey
Source Date: 1876
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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