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Prehistoric hut circles, enclosures and cairns 700m south east of Rushyford Gate

A Scheduled Monument in North Hill, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5536 / 50°33'13"N

Longitude: -4.5044 / 4°30'15"W

OS Eastings: 222687.224446

OS Northings: 75647.473665

OS Grid: SX226756

Mapcode National: GBR ND.GDSM

Mapcode Global: FRA 17GL.LZF

Entry Name: Prehistoric hut circles, enclosures and cairns 700m south east of Rushyford Gate

Scheduled Date: 12 September 1960

Last Amended: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016966

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15537

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: North Hill

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Cleer

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes five hut circles associated with four enclosures and
four small prehistoric cairns on the north east of Smallacoombe Downs on south
east Bodmin Moor. The scheduling is divided in four separate areas of
protection.
The hut circles are irregularly spaced across the Downs' north easterly
midslope, SSE of Rushyford Gate; in the north west and east of the scheduling
are individual hut circles, with the other three grouped between them as a
small settlement arranged in a closely-spaced line. Each hut circle has a
circular or slightly ovoid interior, partly levelled into the slope and
defined by a rubble wall with varying degrees of inner or outer facing. The
associated enclosure walls appear as rubble banks, sometimes incorporating
large boulders and edge-set slabs.
The north western hut circle is 10.5m in diameter externally, its rubble bank
averaging 1.5m wide; the bank rises up to 0.5m above the levelled interior on
the SSW and is up to 0.7m high externally on the north. A large boulder is
displaced into the interior. From 16m ENE of this hut circle, an enclosure
wall is visible for 15m, curving south then south west before fading as a
surface feature. Against the west side of the enclosure wall's northern end is
a subrectangular walled structure, 5.5m WSW-ENE by 3.2m NNW-SSE. Its rubble
walling, roughly coursed in places, on the west, south and east sides is 0.8m-
1.2m wide and 0.2m-0.6m high; it is open to the NNW and its interior is
partitioned by a slighter rubble and slab wall, forming east and west
compartments each about 2.5m long, NNW-SSE by 1.2m wide.
The three closely-spaced hut circles forming the settlement further east
extend as a north-south row over 35m. The northernmost is 7.5m in external
diameter, its bank 0.2m-0.5m high around a 5.2m diameter interior. Centred
20m to the south, the next hut circle is 6.5m in external diameter with a bank
to 0.5m high, with some inner facing slabs, around a 4.4m diameter interior;
against the bank's outer face on the SSE is a small rectangular annexe, 2.1m
long by 1.1m wide overall and defined by large edge-set slabs on its north
east end and SSE side, but open to the south west. Only 2m beyond is the
southern and smallest hut circle in the line, 4.75m in diameter externally and
2.5m diameter internally, its bank generally 0.4m-0.5m high with some inner
and outer facing slabs and a large boulder displaced inwards on the north of
the bank.
The settlement of three hut circles is adjacent to walling of two enclosures.
One is a small oval enclosure, 24m north-south by 16m east-west externally
with slab and rubble walls generally 1.5m wide and 0.4m high. At its centre,
several exposed slabs and a small levelled area give ill-defined indications
of a circular internal feature about 4m in diameter. The south east curve of
this enclosure's wall adjoins the western walling of the northern hut circle
in the settlement. The second enclosure is closed on the east and north by the
settlement's hut circles by the smaller enclosure, but is defined on the south
and south west by a rubble and slab bank which appears 4.5m south of the
southernmost hut circle and extends 5m south west before curving sharply to
head NNW for 48m, fading close to the smaller enclosure.
The fifth hut circle in the scheduling, 100m south east of the row of three,
shows alterations to convert it to a medieval or early post-medieval building.
Except on the north east, the hut circle wall is generally 0.8m-1.1m wide
around a levelled interior 5.8m in diameter. Its western walling stands to 1m
high, with coursed rubble inner and outer facing and a large inner facing slab
on the north. Two large edge-set slabs, 1.1m apart across the wall line on the
WNW, mark the original entrance. On the south east and east, the wall rises
only 0.25m high, with small facing slabs on both faces and a slope of tumbled
wall rubble outside. This slighter section of walling was partitioned from the
rest of the hut circle in the later modification by a low flat-topped wall, 1m
wide, running south west-north east across the south east of the interior,
breaching the hut circle wall at both ends and extending 2.5m beyond the hut
circle wall on the ENE to end as a rough stump.
The hut circle's visible north east walling, 0.7m wide and up to 0.7m high, is
straight and of double-faced roughly coursed rubble, entirely a later re-build
marking the final phase of modification in which the hut circle wall line was
reinstated, overriding the low, flat-topped partitioning wall. Small rubble
heaps north of the hut circle also derive from the later alterations. The hut
circle is in the north east of a large ovoid prehistoric enclosure, up to 100m
north east-south west by 80m north west-south east, defined by rubble and
boulder walls generally 1.5m-2m wide and 0.2m-0.5m high with occasional edge-
set slabs; the wall is not evident across part of the south west end of the
enclosure, while at the north east the enclosure wall turns inward towards
the hut circle. Roughly central within the enclosure are two prehistoric
cairns, visible as low rubble mounds 17m apart on a north east-south west
axis. The north eastern cairn is 5.1m north west-south east by 4.8m north
east-south west, with a shallow domed profile rising 0.6m; situated 1m beyond
this cairn's south west perimeter are two small outlying rubble mounds, 0.5m
apart and each 2m across and 0.4m high. The south western cairn is 5m in
diameter and rises 0.6m to a flattened upper platform roughly 2.6m in
diameter.
The other two prehistoric funerary cairns are located at the south east of
this scheduling and are also 17m apart on an east-west axis; each visible as a
low rubble mound with an inner cavity resulting from an unrecorded antiquarian
excavation. The western cairn is 5.5m in diameter and 0.7m high; a central
excavation pit is 1.75m in diameter with an access trench through the western
side of the cairn. The eastern cairn is 4m in diameter, rising up to 0.8m high
from its eastern, downslope edge; a north east-south west excavation trench,
1.2m wide, extends 2.5m into the cairn from the north east edge and exposes
large slabs in the sides and south west end which may derive from a box-like
funerary structure called a cist. A short length of prehistoric rubble bank is
visible extending 5m to the north west, 2.8m east of this cairn.
The hut circles and enclosures in this scheduling are located in the north
west of a zone of distinctive early prehistoric settlement encompassing the
north east flank of the Downs and comprising scattered hut circles, often
similarly associated with small rounded enclosures or discrete aggregations of
curvilinear field plots, some still surviving beyond this scheduling and
others evident from early aerial photographs and records, but subsequently
damaged or destroyed by afforestation. Later in the prehistoric period, this
settlement pattern influenced and became partly incorporated into an extensive
regular rectilinear field system that occupies much of the Downs' lower north
eastern slope along the valley of the Withey Brook. That field system in turn
was much later reused and modified as the basis for medieval exploitation of
the lower valley side from the deserted villages above Trewortha Marsh and at
Smallacoombe Parks.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 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. Stone hut circles were the dwelling places of prehistoric
farmers on the Moor, mostly dating from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). The
stone-based round houses survive as low walls or banks enclosing a circular
floor area; remains of a turf or thatch roof are not preserved. The huts occur
singly or in small or large groups and may occur in the open or be enclosed by
a bank of earth and stone. Although they are common on the Moor, their
longevity of use and their relationship with other monument types provides
important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming
practices among prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative
of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are
considered worthy of protection.

The hut circles, enclosures and cairns 700m south east of Rushyford Gate on
the north of Smallacoombe Downs survive reasonably well, displaying clearly
their form and manner of construction. Despite limited disturbance from
forestry operations, which have not resulted in deep ploughing of these
features, and from antiquarian attentions at two of the cairns, internal
deposits and structural features will remain substantially intact. The
modifications evident at the south eastern hut circle in this scheduling are
an unusually clear example of the continuing role which early settlement sites
sometimes maintained in later periods. The survival of the associated
enclosure walling provides evidence for the character and economy of the
settlement. It also gives valuable field evidence to confirm and complement
the early records and aerial photographs in enabling identification of this
type of settlement as an early stage in the complex sequence of prehistoric to
post-medieval land use that has produced a very extensive survival of
settlement, field system and funerary remains along the north east side of
Smallacoombe Downs.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
CAU, Cornwall SMR entries PRN 1065.02, .03, .05, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entries PRN 1065.12-.14, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1016.01, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1016.02, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1065.01, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1065.12, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1065.20, (1990)
Drawn to accompany EH Management Plan, Hooley, A D, 1:2500 Smallacoombe Downs survey plan on Ordnance Survey/ Landline Map base, (1998)
Saunders, A D, AM 7 scheduling documentation for CO 593, 1960,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map SX 27 NW
Source Date: 1984
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27 SW
Source Date: 1984
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:2500 Smallacoombe Downs survey plan on OS/Landline map base
Source Date: 1998
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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