Ancient Monuments

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Promontory Fort called Trereen Dinas

A Scheduled Monument in Zennor, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.192 / 50°11'31"N

Longitude: -5.599 / 5°35'56"W

OS Eastings: 143220.021897

OS Northings: 38638.222869

OS Grid: SW432386

Mapcode National: GBR DXK5.G59

Mapcode Global: VH052.WFXP

Entry Name: Promontory Fort called Trereen Dinas

Scheduled Date: 3 June 1970

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004300

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 711

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Zennor

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Zennor

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a promontory fort, situated on the coastal headland known as Gurnard's Head. The fort survives as an irregular enclosed area defined by natural steep cliffs and a rocky spine to all sides except the landward (south) where defences are formed by two banks of up to 2m wide and 1.8m high with accompanying outer ditches and a further partial outer ditch of up to 2.7m wide and 1.2m deep with no backing rampart. Internally at least 16 hut platforms, preserved as shallow scoops of between 6.1m to 9.1m in diameter some with natural boulders incorporated into their perimeters, are located on the steep east-facing slopes with at least seven on the cliff edge. On the far northern tip of the fort is a disused 20th century coastal look out which survives as a concrete platform.
The fort was first identified by Edmonds in 1857. Partial excavations in 1939 by Gordon revealed the inner rampart to be of drystone construction with the inner side stepped. The outer rampart was of earth with a more modern boundary on top. The outermost ditch was found to be partially overlain by a modern path. Occupation evidence from two huts within the interior included spindle whorls, a rubbing stone, and Iron Age pottery. A third hut was only partly examined and produced a medieval horseshoe. Occupation was thought to date from the 2nd century BC.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-423548

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Promontory forts are a type of hillfort in which conspicuous naturally defended sites are adapted as enclosures by the construction of one or more earth or stone ramparts placed across the neck of a spur in order to divide it from the surrounding land. Coastal situations, using headlands defined by steep natural cliffs, are common while inland similar topographic settings defined by natural cliffs are also used. The ramparts and accompanying ditches formed the main artificial defence, but timber palisades may have been erected along the cliff edges. Access to the interior was generally provided by an entrance through the ramparts. The interior of the fort was used intensively for settlement and related activities, and evidence for timber- and stone- walled round houses can be expected, together with the remains of buildings used for storage and enclosures for animals. Promontory forts are generally Iron Age in date, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are broadly contemporary with other types of hillfort. They are regarded as settlements of high status, probably occupied on a permanent basis, and recent interpretations suggest that their construction and choice of location had as much to do with display as defence. Promontory forts are rare nationally with less than 100 recorded examples. They are important for understanding the nature of social organisation in the later prehistoric period. Although much is already known regarding the construction, occupation and development of the promontory Fort called Trereen Dinas, further archaeological and environmental evidence will be retained regarding its domestic arrangements, trade, territorial significance, social organisation, longevity and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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