Access to Monuments
Archaeological and historical sites and monuments
Archaeology is the study of the material evidence for past human activity, and archaeological fieldwork is based on the thoughtful and detailed observation of our contemporary landscape. Many ‘known’ sites are imperceptible on the ground today, or have been recognised as cropmarks, visible only from aerial photographs, or from digital geophysical surveys. However, a surprising number of sites have survived and are visible in the landscape of the early 21st century. They range from the scatters of flint and stone tools which represent the camps created by nomadic bands of hunter gatherers, up to the concrete remains of the global conflicts of the 20th century. The range of visible, and visitable, monuments encompasses every period of history and prehistory, and reveals insights into changing patterns of agriculture and subsistence, ritual and religion, industry and transport – in short, all facets of human culture over a timespan exceeding 10,000 years.
The A2M website is an online guide to accessible monuments in historic Cornwall, compiled by the Historic Environment service of Cornwall Council. It is aimed at all those with an interest in the countryside who wish to experience for themselves the wealth of the county’s remarkable heritage of sites and monuments.
Each site listed here is located on a public right of way or is sited in open-access land. Although some of the routes included here are bridleways, most are footpaths and access is restricted to walkers; most of the sites can only be reached by people on foot.
Visiting the sites
The sites described here are often our only tangible link with our distant, and not so distant, past. They are an essential component of the Cornish landscape and the information they contain may be unique and is certainly irreplaceable. Some sites will be quite robust, but others may be fragile and vulnerable to disturbance – even those which have survived for hundreds or even thousands of years and appear to be very stable.
The archaeological value of sites often lies not so much in their visible remains, but in the accumulated layers of soil and stone beneath the modern turf. These contain unique information about the lives of the people who built and used them and about how they adapted to and changed their environment. It is essential to avoid any disturbance to these sites if their archaeological value is to be preserved and they are to provide inspiration and enjoyment to future generations.
Most of the sites included in the A2M website are protected as Scheduled Monuments and it is an offence to disturb them in any way. In particular, metal detecting is expressly forbidden in the vicinity of scheduled sites.
When visiting sites, please remember that it is unwise to clamber onto walls or to attempt to move stones in any way, and that digging holes and lighting fires are not appropriate activities. Please respect other visitors right to quietly enjoy their own experience of the site.
Undisturbed sites in the landscape often have a high ecological value and the plants and other living creatures which share these sites with us should also be respected and left as far as possible untroubled.
The A2M Project
The creation of the A2M website is a long term project; new sites will be added periodically to provide a comprehensive overview of the archaeology and history of the county. Future developments which we hope to introduce will include a guide to sustainable transport links and a special guide to sites which are suitable for disabled people to visit.