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Seven round barrows and a ring barrow on Bear's Downs and Denzell Downs, 850m north east of Higher Denzell

A Scheduled Monument in St. Ervan, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.4706 / 50°28'14"N

Longitude: -4.9606 / 4°57'38"W

OS Eastings: 190007.748846

OS Northings: 67611.769788

OS Grid: SW900676

Mapcode National: GBR ZL.SG6W

Mapcode Global: FRA 07HT.97Y

Entry Name: Seven round barrows and a ring barrow on Bear's Downs and Denzell Downs, 850m north east of Higher Denzell

Scheduled Date: 10 February 1958

Last Amended: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021007

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32977

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Ervan

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Mawgan-in-Pydar

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The scheduling includes seven round barrows and a ring barrow, situated on
the summit and shoulders of Denzell Downs and on the adjoining Bear's
Downs, north of St Columb Major. The barrows lie in eight separate areas
of protection. They are closely associated with other barrows to the north
east which are the subject of a separate scheduling, forming a distinctive
elevated group within a wider prehistoric barrow cemetery.
The eight barrows are spaced relatively widely but evenly; four of them
form a fairly close alignment running north west-south east along the top
of a ridge sloping down north west from the summit. One of the barrows was
excavated in 1871 by an antiquarian, who found burnt human bones and
Bronze Age pottery in a central cavity, and evidence for layered
construction of the mound. Also included within the scheduling are the
remains of three military installations from World War II.
Taking first the barrow on the north west in the scheduling, and in the
ridge-top alignment, this has an earth and stone mound approximately 30m
in diameter and 2m high, with a regular rounded profile. There is no
evidence for a ditch surrounding the mound.
Moving south east along the ridge, the next barrow is approximately 30m in
diameter. It has a mound of earth and stone approximately 20m across and
3.5m high. An early 20th century account provides evidence of a kerb of
quartz stones, each up to approximately 1m across, set around the base of
the mound. A curving depression up to 5m wide and 0.3m deep on the west of
the mound is considered to derive from an external ditch. The mound shows
signs of limited disturbance, having a concave top with a central hollow,
thought to be used for a gun emplacement in World War II.
The third round barrow from the north west is sub-circular in plan,
measuring approximately 24m across overall, and 3m-4m high. The barrow is
visible as a mound of earth and shillet (local stone) rubble 18m in
diameter, with a rounded top above steep sides, trimmed by modern
ploughing, and a band of levelled mound material up to 3m wide around
this. No external ditch is known. The centre of the mound is modified to
form the site of a World War II defence post.
The fourth barrow from the north west, and in the alignment of four, has
an earth and shillet mound approximately 19m in diameter and 2.5m high,
with no clear evidence of a surrounding ditch. In profile, the mound has a
fairly flat top and curving upper sides, with a more gently sloping skirt
below. Protruding from the skirt are several pieces of the white quartz
stone found outcropping in the area, each 0.5m-1m across. These are
thought to be remains of a kerb. There is limited disturbance to the
barrow, resulting from modern agricultural practices.
On the summit of Denzell Downs is the fifth of the barrows, lying south
east of the four on the ridge but not closely aligned with them. This is
considered to be a ring type barrow, with no external ditch. An early
record produced by the antiquarian W C Borlase provides evidence of an
outer ring bank with kerbed faces, and a round platform type or flat
topped mound within this, with a small central rise containing the remains
of an associated cist or box-like burial structure. The barrow is visible
as an oval plan mound of dark soil and shillet measuring approximately 22m
WSW-ENE by 15m NNW-SSE and 0.3m high, truncated on the north and reduced
by modern ploughing.
The southernmost barrow in the scheduling lies further south east; again,
it is not closely aligned with the four on the ridge, and being south east
of the summit it is not intervisible with them. It may have been
positioned to exploit the natural prominence of its site, a marked
shoulder of the hill with a steep south east slope below. The barrow has
an oval platform-like mound of earth and shillet, with some irregularity
of profile showing modification by ploughing. It measures around 15.5m
east-west by 10m north-south. There are traces of kerbing, in the form of
two quartz stones in the southern edge of the mound, but no signs of an
external ditch.
Moving to the west on the more uniformly sloping western side of the Downs
is a barrow considered to be that known as Denzell Barrow. It has an
earth, shillet, and quartz mound approximately 22m in diameter and 2.5m
high, with no known ditch. Quartz kerbing can be seen in the south and
west edges of the mound. In profile, the mound has a gently sloping base,
curving upper sides, and a concave top. The faces of two kerb stones, on
the west, are clearly visible and are around 0.9m long and 0.3m high.
These slabs are set with their ends touching, indicating continuous
kerbing. The centre of the mound contains remains of a World War II
military installation, and its edges are trimmed and spread by ploughing.
The antiquarian account of W C Borlase referred to above indicates that an
urn containing burnt bones and a bronze knife was found in the edge of
this barrow during farming in 1869.
Lastly, the moderate slope east of the summit is the site of the
easternmost barrow in the scheduling. It is visible as an earth mound 16m
in diameter and 0.3m high. This is considered to be spread by modern
ploughing so that its edge overlies traces of an external ditch.

All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath it 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

Round barrows 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 mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered
single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as
cemeteries and often acted as a focus of 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 examples recorded nationally (many more have already
been destroyed), occurring across most of Britain, including the Wessex area
where it is often possible to classify them more closely, for example as bowl
or bell barrows. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major
historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation in
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.

Despite limited modification and reduction by ploughing, the eight barrows
on Bear's Downs and Denzell Downs survive well. The underlying old land
surfaces, and remains of structures or other deposits associated with
these and with the upstanding earthworks, will also survive. The barrows
show the variety of form typical of this monument type, while the kerbing
with white quartz, and the general absence of external ditches, provide
examples of local or regional variations in barrow construction. The hill-
and ridge-top locations of the barrows illustrate well the important role
of topography in Bronze Age ritual activity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Borlase, W, Parochial Memoranda, (1740), 142
Borlase, W C, Naenia Cornubiae, (1872), 242-247
Tangye, M, Sheppard, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Parochial Check-Lists of Antiquities 6, Parish of St Ervan, , Vol. 18, (1979), 125
Other
CAU Report No 2000RO60. Confidential., Jones, A, Bear's Down, Cornwall, (2000)
CAU Report No 2001RO17, Lawson Jones, A, Bear's Down to Ruthvoes SWW Pipeline, (2001)
CAU Report No 2001RO34, Thorpe, C, Bear's Downs Wind Farm, Cornwall, (2001)
CAU Report No 2001RO34, Thorpe, C, Bear's Downs Wind Farm, Cornwall, (2001)
MS at RIC library, Truro. Date approx, Henderson, C, Notebooks of Parochial Antiquities, Notebooks of Parochial Antiquities, (1920)
MS at RIC library, Truro. Date approx, Henderson, C, Notebooks of Parochial Antiquities, Notebooks of Parochial Antiquities, (1920)
MS at RIC library, Truro. Date approx, Henderson, C, Notebooks of Parochial Antiquities, Notebooks of Parochial Antiquities, (1920)
Preston-Jones, A, AM107, (1990)
Preston-Jones, A, FMW file note, (1998)
Saunders, A, AM7, (1959)
Saunders, AD, AM7, (1958)
Saunders, AD, AM7, (1959)
Sheppard, PA, AM12, (1981)
SW 86 NE 11, Pitcher, GH, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1964)
SW 86 NE 20, Pitcher, GH, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1964)
SW 86 NE 20, Pitcher, GH, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1964)
SW 86 NE 9, Pitcher, GH, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1964)
SW 96 NW 10, Fletcher, MJ, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1972)
SW 96 NW 10, Quinnell, NV, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1977)
SW 96 NW 11, Fletcher, MJ, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1972)
SW 96 NW 11, Quinnell, NV, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1977)
SW 96 NW 8, Fletcher, MJ, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1972)
SW 96 NW 8, Quinnell, NV, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1977)
Title: Cornwall Mapping Project
Source Date: 1995
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: Cornwall Mapping Project
Source Date: 1995
Author:
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Title: National Mapping Project
Source Date: 1997
Author:
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Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1880
Author:
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Surveyor:

Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1908
Author:
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Surveyor:

Title: Ordnance Survey 2" drawing
Source Date: 1810
Author:
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Surveyor:

Title: Ordnance Survey 2" drawing
Source Date: 1810
Author:
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230
Title: Ordnance Survey 2" Map
Source Date: 1810
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: Ordnance Survey Index Card
Source Date: 1977
Author:
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Surveyor:
SW 96 NW 9
Title: St Ervan Tithe Apportionment
Source Date: 1842
Author:
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Surveyor:

Title: St Ervan Tithe Apportionment
Source Date: 1842
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
229
Title: St Mawgan Tithe Apportionment
Source Date: 1840
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: St Mawgan Tithe Apportionment
Source Date: 1840
Author:
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Surveyor:
290
Title: St Mawgan Tithe Apportionment
Source Date: 1840
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
291

Source: Historic England

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