Ancient Monuments

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A round, courtyard house settlement and two stone hut circles 400m north east of Trye Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Towednack, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1675 / 50°10'2"N

Longitude: -5.5548 / 5°33'17"W

OS Eastings: 146241.9048

OS Northings: 35764.3451

OS Grid: SW462357

Mapcode National: GBR DXN7.JF0

Mapcode Global: VH059.N1RY

Entry Name: A round, courtyard house settlement and two stone hut circles 400m north east of Trye Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1953

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004480

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 366

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Towednack

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Gulval

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument, which falls into three areas of protection, includes a round, a courtyard house and two stone hut circles, situated on the upper south east slopes of Carnaquidden Downs. The round lies to the north and survives as a circular enclosure measuring approximately 91m in diameter. It is defined by a low earth and stone-built wall. Part of the wall has been interrupted by mine workings, and a conical mound in the centre may have been the base of a wind pump used to drain a mine. The shaft is capped with large stones. In 1843 the enclosure contained trees and was called 'Round Plantation', and there is also a local tradition that it was used as a corral for miner's mules.

To the south west of the round is a small, roughly-rectangular field which has a courtyard house on its northern side and two further stone hut circles on the south eastern side. The courtyard house has been partially cut on the northern side by the boundary of this field. It survives as a circular chamber to the west with a further circular room to the north, defined by stone walls of up to 1m high. To the south east are two closely-spaced stone hut circles, which survive as low, irregular-shaped banks of between 0.3m and 1.1m high with some large protruding stones. These have been disturbed by field clearance and the erection of the field boundary.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-423504 and 423402

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Rounds are small embanked enclosures, one of a range of settlement types dating to between the later Iron Age and the early post-Roman period. Usually circular or oval, they have a single earth and rubble bank and an outer ditch, with one entrance breaking the circuit. Excavations have produced many structures including the remains of timber, turf or stone built houses of oval or rectangular plan, often set around the inner edge of the enclosing bank. Evidence for industrial activities has been recovered from some sites, including small scale metal working and, among the domestic debris, items traded from distant sources. Rounds are viewed primarily as agricultural settlements. Rounds are confined to south west Devon and especially Cornwall and are important as one of the major sources of information on settlement and social organisation of the Iron Age and Roman periods in this region. The courtyard house is a building form developed in the Roman period during the second to fourth centuries AD. It was usually oval or curvilinear in shape, taking the form of a thick coursed rubble wall containing rooms and some storage chambers. A central area - the courtyard - was enclosed by this wall and the rooms and the main entrance opened into it. The courtyard is generally considered to have remained unroofed. Excavations have shown that some courtyard houses developed from earlier phases of timber and/or stone built round houses on the same site. Courtyard houses may occur singly or in groups. Confined to Cornwall Courtyard houses are unique within the range of Romano-British settlement types, showing a highly localised adaptation to the windswept conditions of the far south west of England.

Stone hut circles were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers. Most date from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). The stone- based round-houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area. Frequently traces of their associated field systems may be found immediately around them. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements and their relationship with other monument types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practice amongst prehistoric communities. Despite mining activity and the reduction of the heights of the walls of the buildings through cultivation, the round, courtyard house settlement and two stone hut circles 400m north east of Trye Farm survive comparatively well and offer a fascinating juxtaposition of different types of predominantly agricultural settlement reflecting changes in social organisation and settlement type unique to the south west.

Source: Historic England

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