Ancient Monuments

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Platform cairn with outer bank and central mound 430m WSW of Smallacoombe Tor

A Scheduled Monument in North Hill, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5461 / 50°32'45"N

Longitude: -4.4986 / 4°29'54"W

OS Eastings: 223070.754938

OS Northings: 74794.455731

OS Grid: SX230747

Mapcode National: GBR ND.GVPN

Mapcode Global: FRA 17GM.979

Entry Name: Platform cairn with outer bank and central mound 430m WSW of Smallacoombe Tor

Scheduled Date: 12 September 1960

Last Amended: 23 October 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018646

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15285

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


The monument includes a prehistoric funerary platform cairn with an outer bank
and central mound situated on the summit of a broad hill, at the highest point
of the Smallacoombe Downs, on south east Bodmin Moor.
The cairn survives with a circular platform of heaped rubble, up to 17.5m in
diameter and 0.5m high. The periphery of the platform supports an outer rubble
bank, up to 2m wide and 0.75m high. At the centre of the platform is a heaped
rubble mound 10.5m in diameter, rising to 0.6m above the platform's surface.
An unrecorded antiquarian excavation has produced a circular hollow, 5.5m in
diameter and up to 0.6m deep at the centre of the mound; rubble spoil from
this excavation was spread over the northern half of the cairn, masking the
distinction between the central mound and the outer bank in that sector. Along
its southern edge, the excavation hollow reveals a 3.25m length of coursed
rubble walling concentric with the edge of the mound and forming an original
feature of the cairn's internal structure. Beyond the south east side of the
cairn, a marked vegetation change to heather and mosses from the grass and
bilberry covering most of the cairn defines a 1m wide band, considered to
denote an underlying ditch, concentric with and 1m beyond the outer edge of
the cairn's outer bank.
Beyond the monument, other broadly contemporary monuments include a tor cairn
on the southern side of Smallacoombe Tor, while extensive prehistoric field
systems, settlement sites and linear boundaries are located along the north
east slopes of the Smallacoombe Downs, from 410m to the east and north.

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. 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 the Smallacoombe Down has survived substantially
intact, retaining clearly its original form. The base of unrecorded
antiquarian excavation at the centre of the cairn remains above the old land
surface. The concentric coursed walling revealed by the excavation is unusual,
as also is evidence for a ditch around the cairn. The relationship of this
cairn to the broadly contemporary tor cairn and to the settlement sites and
field systems on the slopes of the Smallacoombe Downs demonstrates well the
organisation of land use during the Bronze Age and the relationship of
funerary practices with settlement and farming among prehistoric communities.

Source: Historic England


consulted 1993, Carter, A./CAU/RCHME, 1:2500 AP plots and field traces for SX 2275-6 & SX 2374-5,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 1265,
Saunders, A.D., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 594, 1959, consulted 1993

Source: Historic England

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