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Three hut circles 280m south west of Rushyford Gate

A Scheduled Monument in North Hill, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5567 / 50°33'24"N

Longitude: -4.5091 / 4°30'32"W

OS Eastings: 222367.510462

OS Northings: 76001.917291

OS Grid: SX223760

Mapcode National: GBR NC.GCM4

Mapcode Global: FRA 17FL.K4Y

Entry Name: Three hut circles 280m south west of Rushyford Gate

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1960

Last Amended: 23 October 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018627

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15535

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 three well-spaced stone hut circles near the northern
edge of Smallacoombe Downs on south east Bodmin Moor. The south western hut
circle is contained within a small subrectangular prehistoric enclosure, while
the north eastern contains remains of later internal structures. The
scheduling is divided into three separate areas of protection.
The hut circles form a north east-south west line across the Downs' gentle
northern flank. The south western hut circle survives with a circular
interior, 4.75m in diameter, defined by an earth and rubble bank generally 1m
wide and to 0.2m high. It is located in the south east of a subrectangular
prehistoric enclosure 21m long, east-west, by up to 14.5m wide internally,
defined by a rubble bank up to 2.75m wide and 0.5m high with occasional traces
of an inner facing; small breaks and hollows in the north and south banks
derive from later activity, one such break resulting in a small mound of
rubble pushed out from the western half of the south bank.
The central hut circle in the line, 80m to the north east, has an ovoid
interior approximately 8m east-west by 6.2m north-south; except on the south,
it is defined by an earth and rubble bank to 1.2m wide and 0.4m high. On the
south, an irregular hummocky rubble mound, 3m across and to 0.6m high, extends
across and beyond the line of the hut circle bank; this mound is considered to
comprise spoil from an excavation whose shallow rectangular trench, 1.5m wide,
extends at least 2.5m NNW-SSE across the hut circle interior.
A further 30m to the north east, the north eastern hut circle has an outer
bank 10.5m in external diameter, to 1.25m wide and 0.3m high; its south
eastern third has closely-spaced large edge-set slabs across the bank, with
occasional similar slabs elsewhere. Within the interior so defined, later
modification produced an inner bank, about 1m wide and 0.1m high with some
small edge-set slabs, defining an innermost area 4.75m ENE-WSW by 4m NNW-SSE.
The inner bank is centred slightly north of centre within the outer bank and a
1m wide break crosses both inner and outer banks on the north east. On the
south, the 2m gap between the two banks contains a third feature: a hollow
1.2m in diameter, 0.1m deep and defined by a very slight rubble bank.
Early records and aerial photographs show that these hut circles were formerly
associated with boundaries of a discrete curvilinear field system on the
surrounding slope and extending beyond this scheduling, along with at least
two further hut circles to the north and north west; those features have been
damaged or destroyed by subsequent forestry operations. In their wider
context, these hut circles and their former associated features are in the
north west of a zone of distinctive early prehistoric settlement over the
north eastern flank of the Downs and comprising scattered hut circles, often
similarly associated with small rounded enclosures or discrete aggregations of
curvilinear field plots. Later in the prehistoric period, this settlement
pattern influenced and became partly incorporated into an extensive regular
rectilinear field system occupying much of the Smallcoombe Down's 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 280m south west of Rushyford Gate survive well despite
limited excavation at the central example and the minor disturbance evident at
the south western. The enclosure of the south western hut circle and the
spaced transverse-slab walling at the north eastern are unusual features,
while the internal modifications of the latter provide a good example of the
reuse and development which occasionally affects prehistoric hut circles.
Despite recent destruction of associated features in their close vicinity,
those features were sufficiently well-recorded to enable the hut circles'
contemporary setting to be understood, along with their role at 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 the Smallcoombe Downs.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Dudley, D, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Excavation News, 1962-3; Smallacombe & Trewortha Downs, , Vol. 2, (1963), 56
Other
CAU , Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1017, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1017.04, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1017, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1017.02, (1990)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 1017.03, (1990)
Drawn to accompany EH Management Plan, Hooley, A D, 1:2500 Smallacoombe Downs survey plan on Ordnance Survey/ Landline Map base, (1998)
RAF, RAF vertical air photo: 36 TUD UK 137 part III, photo 5254, (1946)
RAF, RAF vertical air photo: 36 TUD UK 137 part III, photo 5254, (1946)
RAF, RAF vertical air photo; 36 TUD UK part III, photo 5254, (1946)
Saunders, A D, AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 592, 1960,
Title: 1:10000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27 SW
Source Date: 1984
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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