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Historic England Research Records

King Arthurs Hall

Hob Uid: 433143
Location :
Cornwall
St. Breward
Grid Ref : SX1297077650
Summary : King Arthur's Hall - a rectangular enclosure, surrounded by a bank, and the interior lined with stones. It lies on the north-west corner of Bodmin Moor near St Breward in an area called King Arthur's Down. Date and function are unknown, but it has been suggested to be a Neolithic mortuary enclosure, medieval animal pound, ritual gathering place and ancient reservoir.
More information : SX 12987765) King Arthur's Hall Enclosure (NR) (1)

A rectangular enclosure 159' x 66' surrounded by a solid earth bank 7'x 5' high with no ditch. On the inside is a retaining wall of large stones set up on end, about sixty still in place although only about forty erect. There is usually a pool of water in a depression at the centre which overflows through an entrance at the south east corner. Its origin and use is only speculative, there being no finds to date it. A similar enclosure exists in Brittany which was a BA cremation site but Tregelles suggests that "King Arthur's Hall" was a cattle pound. Dorothy Dudley gives a possible Neolithic date based on a similar rampart construction at Lough gur in Eire. (2-4)
The enclosure is well preserved, and as generally described by Auth (2), with an overall size of 62.0m x 36.0m and banks up to 2.0m high; a 2.0m wide gap in the south west corner appears to be modern. The massive construction of the feature, and lack of original entrance would suggest it to be sepulchral in purpose.

Published 1:2500 survey revised. (5)

Enclosure situated just off the crest of a moorland high point and on a slight west-facing slope at 263m O.D. This sub-rectangular banked earthwork lies in a fairly prominent position on open stone-free moorland above an extensive low-lying marshy area. Its substantial bank, constructed of stone and soil, encloses an area of 47.0m by 20.0m and is approximately 6.0m wide, 1.0m high externally and about 1.7m high internally. There is no trace of an associated inner or outer ditch. The interior is lined by a continuous row of large facing slabs; they now stand within the lower fringes of the bank which they stand within the lower fringes of the bank which they originally retained. A number of these slabs stand to a height of 1.8m but most are now either recumbent, leaning or buried. A 2.0m wide gap in the south-west corner of the earthwork may or may not be an original entrance. Its sides are not slab lined as might be expected and there is a slight rise in the floor which may indicate that the bank was once extant in this corner.

The practically water-filled and reed-covered interior has been so disturbed that the original ground surface level cannot be identified with any certainty. A small area of paving which lies against the inside of the north bank (and which admittedly could be a later feature) may indicate that the interior was originally paved. Perhaps the stones were lifted by an inquisitive excavator and removed by dyke builders.

There are no traces of associated linear banks or earthworks. The origins and purpose of the enclosure remains obscure, but the effort required to both excavate, or import material for a bank of such proportions and to erect the slabs suggests that it had a more important function than just an animal pound.

Condition good but superficially damaged by cattle.
A post and wire fence, with sheep creeps, now protects the earthwork from cattle damage.

Surveyed at 1:2500. (6)

A plan and discussion can be found in the published report of the Bodmin Moor project. (7)

Antiquity model (8)

Scheduled. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England. (9-10)

Clearance 2013 and investigation 2014 by Roy Goutté and others as members of The Heritage Trust, revealed a revetment wall built to retain the inner bank. It was concluded that over time the earth had covered over the top of the revetment wall and the, what was once c.140, upright stones now lie buried, recumbent, or standing at an angle. This would suggest that the structure was originally a rectangular enclosure from which the earth was extracted and banked up on the four sides, forming a sub-level ‘tank’ with an ‘apron’ between the excavated area and the banks. It is assumed that the ‘tank’ would have been filled with water, either rising or from rainfall. The question unanswered being how was it drained away? The author attempted to determine the depth of the excavated area which appeared to be shallower at the perimeters and deeper in the middle.
Investigation on removing turf from what was thought to be a fallen upright revealed a granite paved area with a raised centre line and not a stone at all. It abutted the remains of the façade stone perfectly.
The monument is considered to have some purpose other than an animal pound and would benefit from professional excavation and scientific dating. (11)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1962
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : VCH 1906 1 393 plan (G F Tregelles)
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Source Number : 11
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : King Arthur's Hall, By Roy Goutte < http://theheritagetrust.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/king-arthurs-hall-is-it-really-just-a-medieval-animal-pound-or-something-archaeology-is-seriously-overlooking/ > [accessed 17-SEP-2014]
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Proceedings of West Cornwall FC NS 1 2 1953-4 57-8 (D Dudley)
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Arch of Corn 1932 103 (Hencken)
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JWS 07-Jun-73
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Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : RCHME Field Investigation 24-OCT-84 M.J Fletcher
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Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : RCHME Suppl. Rept. 11. Bodmin Moor: An Archaeol. Survey Vol. 1. 1994. 28ff Fig. 19 (N. Johnson, P. Rose)
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Source Number : 8
Source : King Arthur's Hall/Antiquity Model
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Source Number : 9
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : Cornwall 26-NOV-1928
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Source Number : 10
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2014. ‘English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England’, < http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1006706 > [Accessed 16-SEP-2014]
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Uncertain
Display Date :
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Rectangular Enclosure
Evidence : Extant Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CO 81
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1006706
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 17 NW 27
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 17 NW 25
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1973-06-07
End Date : 1973-06-07
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: BODMIN MOOR
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1978-01-01
End Date : 1985-08-01
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 17 NW 25
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1984-10-24
End Date : 1984-10-24
Associated Activities : Primary, STANNON AND KING ARTHUR'S HALL
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31