Ancient Monuments

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Iron Age defended settlement called Penhargard Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Helland, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4971 / 50°29'49"N

Longitude: -4.7389 / 4°44'20"W

OS Eastings: 205843.838748

OS Northings: 69954.586346

OS Grid: SX058699

Mapcode National: GBR N2.L0JP

Mapcode Global: FRA 07YR.5LG

Entry Name: Iron Age defended settlement called Penhargard Castle

Scheduled Date: 16 July 1956

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004425

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 430

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Helland

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Helland

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes an Iron Age defended settlement, situated on a prominent ridge above the steep southern valley side of a tributary to the River Camel. The settlement survives as a roughly-circular enclosed area of up to 89m in diameter. It is defined by a single rampart and partially-buried outer ditch on all except the southern side, where there is a second closely spaced outer rampart and ditch. A simple entrance through both ramparts lies to the south west. The inner rampart is best preserved on the southern side where it stands to a height of 2.3m above the ditch. To the north it is a scarp of up to 1.6m high. The interior of the enclosure has been levelled to form two distinct platforms.

It was first recorded on the Ordnance Survey map of 1813 and first described by Maclauclan in 1850.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-431330

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were constructed and occupied in south western England. At the top of the settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. Despite tree cover, the Iron Age defended settlement called Penhargard Castle survives well and is slightly more unusual in having a partially bivallate construction. It will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, social organisation, domestic arrangements, agricultural practices and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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