Ancient Monuments

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Slight univallate hillfort immediately south west of Gear

A Scheduled Monument in St. Martin-in-Meneage, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.0796 / 50°4'46"N

Longitude: -5.187 / 5°11'13"W

OS Eastings: 172085.565805

OS Northings: 24811.322485

OS Grid: SW720248

Mapcode National: GBR Z6.C2L6

Mapcode Global: FRA 080S.YWX

Entry Name: Slight univallate hillfort immediately south west of Gear

Scheduled Date: 8 October 1956

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004430

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 436

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Martin-in-Meneage

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Martin-in-Meneage

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a slight univallate hillfort, situated close to the summit of a north west-facing ridge, overlooking the Helford River. The hillfort survives as an irregular-shaped enclosure of approximately 6ha defined by a single rampart of up to 1.7m high internally with a partially buried outer ditch of up to 0.6m deep. There are entrances to the north, now cut by farm buildings and to the west. On the western side of the enclosure a park pale, defined by a revetted wall and outer ditch, is situated within the ditch of the hillfort and to the south the same park pale incorporates part of the rampart and ditch earthworks. To the south east the rampart and ditch have been cut by a duck pond. The buildings are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.
The place name Gear is derived from the Cornish 'ker' meaning 'fort' or 'round' and it first appears in documents dating to 1262-6. Polwhele writing in 1803 was the first to describe the hillfort.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-427434

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes, generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth - fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally. Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of the major classes of hillfort. They are relatively rare as a hillfort type and are important understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age. Despite some disturbance to the interior through cultivation and the erection of buildings, the slight univallate hillfort immediately south west of Gear survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, social organisation, territorial significance, agricultural practices, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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