Bodmin Moor is a brown, treeless, windswept, and rain-sodden boss of granite, around 200 sq km in size, situated near to the eastern county boundary of Cornwall in southwest England (see Figure 1.1). It is today one of the best preserved upland ‘fossil’ prehistoric landscapes of southern Britain and is exceptionally rich in archaeological remains. Despite much eighteenth-and nineteenth-century clearance in the centre of the Moor, and in the southwest of it, large areas of the land remain rough pasture land, unenclosed and ‘unimproved’, and hence, unlike lowland areas of Britain, traces of prehistoric settlement and large numbers of cairns and other monuments have not been obliterated. Modern settlement is conﬁned to the edges of the Moor, and this pattern seems to have altered little for about one thousand years, apart from a brief period of medieval occupation in central areas, now abandoned. Unlike most lowland areas of Britain, where the evidence for different classes of archaeological sites in the same area is extremely fragmentary, on Bodmin Moor there is still a well preserved, wide variety of different types of archaeological remains: ceremonial monuments (stone circles and stone
rows), barrows and cairns, numerous house circles, settlement areas, and ﬁeld boundaries. The area has recently been the subject of one of the most comprehensive and meticulous archaeological landscape surveys undertaken in Britain (Johnson and Rose 1994), and the results of this ﬁeldwork provide an invaluable basis for the interpretative work presented here.