Ancient Monuments

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Small multivallate hillfort called Castle Dore

A Scheduled Monument in St. Sampson, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3628 / 50°21'45"N

Longitude: -4.6677 / 4°40'3"W

OS Eastings: 210355.423581

OS Northings: 54832.332293

OS Grid: SX103548

Mapcode National: GBR N5.VDV0

Mapcode Global: FRA 1832.PBK

Entry Name: Small multivallate hillfort called Castle Dore

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1929

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006691

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 122

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Sampson

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Sampson (or Golant)

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a small multivallate hillfort, situated on a prominent ridge overlooking at least two tributaries to the River Fowey. The hillfort survives as a roughly circular central area defined by a well-constructed inner rampart and ditch with a further, mainly concentric, outer rampart and partially-buried outer ditch which diverge from the inner rampart only on the east to form a more complex entrance annexe.

The interior was partially excavated between 1936 and 1937 by CA Raleigh-Radford and more recent re-interpretation of the results indicates the hillfort was constructed during the 5th - 4th centuries BC based on ceramic evidence. A later phase followed a period of abandonment when the entrance area was remodelled probably in the 4th - 3rd centuries BC. The interior contained a number of four- to six-post structures and the remains of some round houses, defined by stake holes indicating a complex building sequence with frequent replacements of structures over a prolonged period. Two oval structures may also represent Romano-British or later occupation, although the pottery assemblage seems to indicate abandonment before the Roman period. Other finds included Iron Age imported glass bracelets and a glass bead. Castle Dore was first mentioned by William Worcester in 1470. It was reputedly linked to 'Lancien', the palace of King Mark (Mark Cynawr or Marcus Cunomorus) who appears in Arthurian tales and whose son Drustans (Tristan) is commemorated on a nearby pillar. The district is also associated with the romance of Tristan and Iseult. Excavated evidence also revealed the presence of finds relating to the skirmish between Charles I and the Earl of Essex, fought at Castle Dore during the Civil War when in 1644 Parliamentarian forces retreated into the earthworks and held the position until dark.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-432238 and 432340

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances, either simple gaps in the earthwork or inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west. Small multivallate hillforts are important for understanding the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period. Despite partial excavation and the cultivation of the interior, the small multivallate hillfort called Castle Dore survives comparatively well and will contain further archaeological end environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, abandonment, re-use, defensive, strategic and social significance, domestic arrangements, agricultural practices, industrial activity and trade within its overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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