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Buttern Hill

Cairn(s)

<b>Buttern Hill</b>Posted by Mr HamheadImage © Mr Hamhead
Nearest Town:Hallworthy (6km N)
OS Ref (GB):   SX175817 / Sheet: 201
Latitude:50° 36' 20.94" N
Longitude:   4° 34' 46.09" W

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Fieldnotes

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I approach from Bray Down:

http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/154482/fieldnotes/bray_down.html

Having not undertaken any homework back in Essex - well, in mitigation I had expected to push on to Land's End following a few days upon Dartmoor, so had no expectation whatsoever of still being upon Bodmin Moor on the penultimate day of the fortnight - I'm not anticipating much from Buttern Hill. Aside from some sweeping views to Rough Tor under very welcome clear conditions... and the chance to 'reverse engineer' the vista enjoyed from Brown Willy three days earlier. Yeah, I do like different perspectives, me.

As usual things don't go to plan; mainly, I guess, because I like to bring along, as it were, a rough artist's sketch in my mind and fill in the detail as circumstances dictate. Either that, or I've an appalling short term memory. One of the two. Anyway, upon leaving the summit of Bray Down I encounter (presumably) the same herd of brooding bovines I met on the way up. None shall pass. Consequently I detour around and forget all about the settlement apparently sited below, instead fording the river - or is it now a stream? - rather more elegantly than earlier in the day. From here, after hanging out with some wild ponies for a short while, 'up' is the only required direction. As I recall Yazz pointed this out, rather emphatically it has to be said, during the late 80's? I think. But then again the longer term memory isn't what it was either nowadays. Anyhow, whatever the correct timeline, her long, 'stompy' legs would've no doubt made far easier work of the grassy pull to the summit of Buttern Hill than mine. But there you are. One must work with what one has got.

As I approach the summit the first of a linear grouping of reasonably well defined cairns comes into view. Not bad at all. What I'm not prepared for is the 'contents' of the primary cairn... a damn well near perfectly preserved example of a cist, complete with fine cap stone slipped back to reveal the interior. Wow! Incoherent thoughts flash into my brain, which, sort of summarised, I guess relate to the wonder of finding something such as this standing more-or-less intact after all these millennia. Or something like that. OK, the location, the topography, isn't quite as fine - in my opinion - as that occupied by the western cairn upon Bray Down from whence I've just come... but you simply can't argue with archaeological quality such as this, even with the associated cairn being reduced to a grassy ring delineating the monument.

Er, except it seems that you can. It is therefore with a high degree of irony that I have to endure a pair of ramblers, suddenly appearing like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn, do just that, loudly 'debating' over my head what this could possibly be? A kennel, a sheep shelter, perhaps? Thankfully they are soon gone. Now whether the catalyst for accelerating the action was the pungent odour of sheep hanging in the air... or me apparently not going anywhere soon - odd man that I am - is probably a moot point. Anyhow, the trade mark Bodmin Moor 'utter silence' is resumed and Buttern Hill lives again in the imagination, if only for a short while. What price a couple of Bronze Age people somehow turning up in lieu of the now departed ramblers? Ha, dream on. So I do until advancing time dictates I must leave and return to the car.

Yeah, both Bray Down and Buttern Hill are fine objectives for the TMA'er in their own right. However a walk combining the two, in my opinion, might just well be one of Bodmin Moor's unexpected gems.
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
8th October 2017ce
Edited 9th October 2017ce

One of the most featurless hills on Bodmin Moor, best known for its man made tin streaming remains that encircle it. It is a large rounded lump to the east of Roughtor and Brown Willy best approached from the ford at Bowithick.
I last ventured on to its barren slopes about 20 years ago and my memory was of feeling quite disorientated by the lack of landmarks.
Today, 12 Aug 07, there is a good clear sky and plenty of daylight to let me explore the hill further.
I start up by climbing a gully to where I remember there being some mining remains, these are easily found and I continue on towards the summit, not sure exactly where it is.
I pass what could be a stone row but is more likely to be an ancient field boundry and suddenly Roughtor and Showery Tor can be seen away to the west. Brown Willy appears soon after.
On reaching a highpoint I turn left and make for the summit. Two low cairns can be seen, looking like any other robbed out cornish cairns but as I get closer I can see that the nearest has a stone standing inside it. This cairn is about 12 ft across with the central stone about 3ft high. From this cairn it is a short walk to the larger cairn that crowns the summit. Even from this close all I expect to find is a low pile of stones, all be it larger than the last cairn.
How wrong could I be! The low bank of the cairn, about 30 to 35ft across, surrounds a cist with all four walls intact and the capstone perched over it. The cist is about 6ft long and 3 ft wide with a solid granite floor. How come I have not read about it before? This is one of the best preserved cists I have found on the moor. Part of me starts to think it has been built in later times to fool people like me but....
The OS map marks five cairns on the hilltop, I can only find another two, one of which is just a platform of stones adjecent to the summit cairn. The other sits a little distance downslope to the SE.
From the summit my journey took me down to the source of the River Fowey, which once gave its name to the moor. It is a quiet place, rarely visited by man, and yet his handywork is all around in the form of tin streaming channels, something started on the moor by bronze age man. Somewhere in the area there is a stone row, but today I fail to find it. perhaps next time.....
Mr Hamhead Posted by Mr Hamhead
12th August 2007ce