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Historic England Research Records

The Hurlers

Hob Uid: 435707
Location :
Cornwall
Cornwall
Linkinhorne
Grid Ref : SX2582507139
Summary : The Hurlers consist of three late Neolithic or early Bronze Age stone circles arranged in a line aligned north-east to south-west, a grouping unique in England. They are traditionally reputed to be the remains of men petrified for playing 'hurling' on a Sunday. The stones are of granite, many with flat inner faces and some with flattened tops. To the west is a pair of outlying upright stones standing close together, known as the Pipers. Of the northern circle 15 original stones are visible, and excavation indicated there were originally 10 more, now represented by marker stones. The regular spacing suggests there would have been five more. A strip of granite paving ran between this and the central circle. The central circle has 14 original stones and 14 markers. All the stones were hammered smooth, and the chippings were deposited nearby. The southern circle has not been excavated; it has nine original stones of which seven have fallen. Stone robbing has damaged all the circles to some extent, while the introduction of cattle has resulted in many of the stones falling over. The axis through the centres of the two northern circles aligns on Rillaton Barrow to the north-east, while the axis of the other circles aligns directly with a cairn to the south-west. Other alignments are visible with another stone circle, an embanked avenue and a stone row. The site is likely to have held great ritual significance. The circles were documented in 1584 by the cartographer John Norden and subsequently by Richard Carew in 1602. Excavation work, including the re-erection of fallen stones, was carried out on the site in 1935-6 by C A Ralegh Radford. Post-medieval activity including tin-mining, is evident from a series of small pits. The numerous alignments of monuments apparent in this area suggest that the Hurlers may have been part of an important Bronze Age processional route. The site is managed by The Cornwall Hertiage Trust and in the care of English Heritage.
More information : [SX 2581 7133] The Hurlers (NAT) Stone Circles (NR)
[SX 2582 7139]
[SX 2584 7146] (1)

The remains of three stone circles, the Southern and centre having a common axis and the northern being slightly to the east. Their respective diameters from north to south are 114ft, 140ft and 108ft, with thirteen stones in the north and centre and eleven in the south remaining. The stones vary in height from 2ft 9ins to 5ft 10ins (2).

The work of re-erecting the fallen stones was directed by Ralegh Radford from 1935. There were originally 28 stones in the centre circle, but the socket holes of the missing stones had survived. On the side nearest the south circle there was a double space, a larger
pit containing rude paving at the point where the socket of a stone upright might be placed. Crystals of granite, too thick for a natural feature, covered the interior of the circle, suggesting that they came from the hammer dressing of the stones. Near the centre a prostrate stone was found but it is not known whether it stood upright or not. (4)

In the north circle, four stones were found in addition to the twelve already known (C W Dymond records 13 stones in his survey of 1877) besides the sites of others. The area within the circle was paved with granite and between it and the central circle was a rough stone pavement 6ft wide running along their common axis but not connecting them. EBA type flints were found (5). (2-5)

The remains of the three circles are well preserved and are situated on a shallow south slope.
The northern 34.7 metre diameter circle has 11 upright and 4 fallen stones; the central 42.5m diameter circle has 15 upright and 1 fallen stone and the southern 32.0m diameter (approximate) circle has 2
upright and 6, possibly 7, fallen stones. All that survive of many ofthe monoliths are 0.2m to 0.4m stone stumps. In the care of the DOE (ancient monuments). (6)

The three circles, which lie on a north-north east to south-south westline, have the unusual feature of dressed granite stones, see plan. (7)

The centre ring is probably a Type II egg based on a 4, 4.5, 6 triangle. The bulge is slight and at least one of the 17 stones surviving from the original 28 is set in concrete.

The North-north east ring has 16 of the original 28 stones remaining but the south-south west ring has only 9 of the original 26, and most are fallen. It is not known whether the rings are contemporary but it is likely that the site was first used not later than about 2385 BC. (8)

Part depicted on NMR Bodmin Moor Survey AP transcription. (9)

Stone circles as described previously.
In good condition; some small recent depradations by treasure hunters are now virtually concealed by new grass growth.
Surveyed at 1:2500.

Illustration card (OS 495) of 1:1000 survey; additional measurements supplied. (10)

(SX 258714) The broken axis of the circles, the smaller size of the outer examples and their differing shape indicate a possible cumulative construction for the monument. Barnatt suggests some overall consciousness of plan leading to a ceremonial complex in vowing a large input of labour especially with the dressings of the central ring stones. This can be seen at Stonehenge. A date within the 2nd millenium can be applied due to Burls assignment of egg shaped circles to after 2100 BC and also the packing of the orthostat sockets with blocks to ensure their upper surfaces were level, which is been at Stonehenge III, Durrington Walls and perhaps with the Recumbent Stone circles of Aberdeenshire. None of these contexts would perhaps be regarded as falling outside the 2nd millenium bc. (11)

The Hurlers consist of three early Bronze Age stone circles orientated on a roughly linear axis from north north east to south south west. The axis is slightly tilted as it passes from the central circle to the south south east. The circles extend over 162 metres on a gentle south-facing slope in an upland basin between Caradon Hill, Rillaton Moor and the main plateau of Craddock Moor. The stones are of granite, many with flat inner faces and some with flattened tops. The respective diameters of the circles from north to south are 114 feet, 140 feet and 108 feet. The central circle is largest with 14 stone uprights which survive and 14 markers now placed in the socket holes of 14 more stones. The regular spacing indicates that there would have originally been a total of 29 stones. A layer of quartz crystals has been found within this circle, likely to be derived from the hammer dressing of the stones. Near the centre of the circle stands a re-erected granite slab. The northern circle survives with 15 visible stones and is believed to have included 30 regular spaced stones. The southern circle survives with 9 stones, two of which are fallen and is believed to have included 29. The stones vary in height on the site from 2ft 9ins to 5ft 10ins, with the tallest stones located to the south south east. The stone circles have been documented since 1584 by the cartographer John Norden and subsequently by Richard Carew in 1602. He recalled the local tradition that the circles were men turned to stone by a deity after playing the game of 'hurling' on the Sabbath. Excavation work, including the re-erection of fallen stones, was carried out on the site between 1935 and 1936 by C. A. Ralegh-Radford. Considerable post-medieval activity on and in the vicinity of the site including tin-mining, is evident from a series of small pits. The numerous alignments of monuments apparent in this area suggest that the Hurlers may have been part of an important Bronze Age processional route. (2-8, 13)

Magnetometer and earth resistance surveys were conducted at The Hurlers. The results were intended to inform a project investigating the Rillaton Barrow and its wider context. As was expected, the geophysical response on this granite site was relatively poor, with low magnetic enhancement of the soil and strong resistance responses to the near surface bedrock. Although no encircling ditches or additional stone settings were recorded, particularly in relation to a putative fourth circle, some results correlate with excavation evidence from the 1930s. (14)

A brief history and description. (15)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1962
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Arch Camb 5th Series 13 1896 (Rev W Iago)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
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Source Number : 11
Source : Cornish archaeology
Source details : (RJ Mercer)
Page(s) : 75
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 25, 1986
Source Number : 12
Source : The English Heritage visitors' handbook 1998-99
Source details :
Page(s) : 77
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 07-Feb-94
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
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Source Number : 14
Source : Centre for Archaeology Report series
Source details : 'The Hurlers, Cornwall. Report on Geophysical Survey, February 2004', by L Martin
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 52/2004
Source Number : 15
Source : Heritage unlocked: guide to free sites in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
Source details :
Page(s) : 28-29
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : The Victoria history of the county of Cornwall : volume one
Source details : (G F Tregelles) plan
Page(s) : 397-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Source details : (Ralegh Radford)
Page(s) : 134
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1, 1935
Source Number : 5
Source : Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Source details : (Ralegh Radford)
Page(s) : 319
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 4, 1938
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 MJF 09-JAN-74
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : British Archaeological Report (BAR) British series
Source details : Megalithic Rings, plan (A and A S Thom)
Page(s) : 74-5
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 81, 1980
Source Number : 8
Source : The stone circles of the British Isles
Source details : plan (A Burl)
Page(s) : 116-9
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : RCHME/EH/HE Aerial Photographers comment
Source details : NMR AP transcript
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : RCHME Field Investigation 05-JUN-85 N.V Quinnell
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Late Neolithic
Display Date : Neolithic use
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Stone Circle
Evidence : Extant Structure
Monument Period Name : Early Bronze Age
Display Date : Bronze Age use
Monument End Date : -700
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Stone Circle
Evidence : Extant Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Post Medieval
Monument End Date : 1901
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Tin Mine
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CO 128
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : /025
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 15232
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 270
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : 1402
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SX 27 SE 8
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 435712
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 435737
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : THE HURLERS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1935-01-01
End Date : 1935-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 27 SE 8
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1974-01-09
End Date : 1974-01-09
Associated Activities : RCHME: BODMIN MOOR
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1978-01-01
End Date : 1985-08-01
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SX 27 SE 8
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1985-06-05
End Date : 1985-06-05
Associated Activities : THE HURLERS, BODMIN MOOR
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : THE HURLERS, MINIONS
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : THE HURLERS, MINIONS MOOR
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2016-01-01
End Date : 2016-12-31
Associated Activities : MINIONS FILM LOCATIONS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2017-01-01
End Date : 2017-12-31