Introduction to site
Two massive stone-walled enclosures encircle the summit of the ridge, a small tear-drop shaped primary enclosure, encircling the tors at the southern end of the hill, and a larger subsidiary enclosure which encloses the large whale-backed summit ridge of the hill. These enclosures are similar in many ways to the excavated tor enclosures at Carn Brea and Helman Tor, which are dated to the early Neolithic period (4000 – 3500 BC).
Access and Facilities
Stowe's Pound is sited atop a prominent granite ridge to the north of Minions village in the south-eastern sector of Bodmin Moor. It lies in open access moorland not far from The Hurlers stone circles.
There are two car parks in Minions. From the southernmost car park there is a footpath up a set of steps to the north. The site is located in a north-north westerly direction, about 1.3km from the car park and can be reached by a series of level tracks.
There are refreshment and toilet facilties within the village of Minions.
The site is free to visit, and is open any reasonable time in daylight hours.
There are no public transport links directly/close to the area of the site. There are bus services to the villages of Upton Cross and also to Higher Tremarcoombe in the general area. Visit the Traveline website for customised sustainable transport options.
Close to the northern car park, Houseman's engine house contains displays on the archaeology, history and ecology of the surrounding moors.
View our interactive Access to Monuments map to find this and other nearby sites.
Stowe’s Pound is sited atop a prominent granite ridge to the north of Minions village in the south-eastern sector of Bodmin Moor. The hill itself is perhaps best known as the site of the Cheesewring, famous in folklore, and of Cheesewring Quarry, which has taken a massive bite out of the hill’s southern tip. The hill is sited at the edge of the moorland, overlooking Rillaton Moor and Witheybrook Marsh, to the south and west, and the upper reaches of the River Lynher to the east; the tors of Dartmoor can be seen on the distant skyline.
Though very ruinous, the ramparts of the smaller enclosure still stand in places up to 5 metres in height and are between 5 and 15 metres wide. It must once have been a very imposing structure. The larger enclosure, though clearly secondary, might still be contemporary with the other. Its ramparts are noticeably slighter and vary between 5 and 10 metres in width. It has two clearly identifiable entrances on the west and east sides and several other smaller gaps and later stone quarries along the walling in between. There are traces of at least two roughly concentric outer ramparts, best seen on the north-eastern side, and other outworks flank the hill slopes. Curiously, there are no identifiable entrances through the walls of the small enclosure, and no gate or passage providing a link between the interiors of the two enclosures.
Within the large enclosure are over 100 small stone-free platforms levelled into the slopes of the summit and interpreted as the stances for wooden round houses. They cluster around the two entranceways and the southern parts of the enclosure, and are thought to be contemporary with the initial construction and occupation of the site. There are also two flat topped cairns with stone kerbs, one of which, it is said, incorporated a cist which contained a Trevisker pottery urn with 100 flint spearheads, arrowheads and a dagger. This story cannot now be confirmed, but it would make a very unusual find in Cornwall.
Whilst there has been no recent detailed excavation of the site it seems reasonable to place it in the same category as the other tor enclosures on the basis of its topographical situation, details of the construction of the walling, the several narrow entranceways, the ‘house platforms’ and the association with cairns. These Neolithic hilltop enclosures are thought to have represented local tribal centres or meeting places that would have been used for ceremonial, social and commercial purposes. The cairns would normally be assigned to the Early Bronze Age, illustrating how monuments of this type retained a special significance over several millennia, providing a focus for later people occupying the area. An extensive ritual landscape extends from Stowes Hill to Craddock Moor, encompassing stone circles, stone rows, standing stones, barrows and cairns; this is one of the richest and best preserved prehistoric landscapes in the country. The ridge is a prominent skyline feature from the Hurlers, three stone circles lying 1km to the south, and Rillaton Barrow, source of the famous ‘gold cup’ is sited 600m further along the ridge towards Minions.
Illustrations and Plans
Stowes Hill Neolithic tor enclosure (Johnson and Rose 1994)
- Barnatt, J, 1982. Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments. Turnstone Press Limited. ISBN 0 85500 129 1
- Johnson, R. and Rose, P, 1994. Bodmin Moor: An Archaeological Survey. Vol.1: The human landscape to c1800. English Heritage. ISBN 0953 3796.