Ancient Monuments

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Large multivallate hillfort called Warbstow Bury and a pillow mound known as the Giant's Grave

A Scheduled Monument in Warbstow, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6885 / 50°41'18"N

Longitude: -4.5479 / 4°32'52"W

OS Eastings: 220124.973711

OS Northings: 90749.929422

OS Grid: SX201907

Mapcode National: GBR NB.5TYF

Mapcode Global: FRA 17C8.21X

Entry Name: Large multivallate hillfort called Warbstow Bury and a pillow mound known as the Giant's Grave

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1928

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006710

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 86

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Warbstow

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Jacobstow

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a large multivallate hillfort, which contains a pillow mound, situated on a prominent upland ridge at the heads of two tributaries to the River Ottery. The hillfort survives as an oval enclosed area of approximately 7.5 hectares defined by two concentric, massively-constructed, widely spaced ramparts up to 5.8m high with ditches up to 2.7m deep and an outer counterscarp bank. Between these main ramparts, and confined to the southern half of the hillfort, lies a slighter middle rampart and ditch. The outer rampart has two simple entrance gaps to the north west and south east and the inner rampart has two corresponding inturned entrances. In the centre of the hillfort is a large pillow mound (an artificial earthen mound used for the keeping of rabbits) which survives as a rectangular mound measuring up to 22m long, 10m wide and 0.6m high with buried side ditches.
The hillfort was first depicted on the 1813 Ordnance Survey map and was much discussed by 19th century historians including Lysons and Lake. The pillow mound is traditionally the burial place of the Giant of Warbstow who was killed by the Giant of Beacon.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-436584 and 436587

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Large multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of between 5ha and 85ha in area, located on hills and defined by two or more lines of concentric earthworks set at intervals of up to 15m. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. They are generally regarded as centres of permanent occupation, defended in response to increasing warfare, a reflection of the power struggle between competing elites. Earthworks usually consist of a rampart and ditch, although some only have ramparts. Access to the interior is generally provided by two entrances. These may comprise a single gap in the rampart, inturned or offset ramparts, oblique approaches, guardrooms or outworks. Internal features generally include evidence for intensive occupation, often in the form of oval or circular houses. These display variations in size and are often clustered, for example, along streets. Four- and six-post structures, interpreted as raised granaries, also occur widely while a few sites appear to contain evidence for temples. Other features associated with settlement include platforms, paved areas, pits, gullies, fences, hearths and ovens. Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture occurred on many sites. Large multivallate hillforts are rare with around 50 examples recorded nationally. They are important for understanding the nature of social organisation within the Iron Age period.
Pillow mounds are low rectangular mounds of soil and/or stones in which rabbits or hares were farmed for meat and fur. They are usually between 15m and 40m long and between 5m and10m wide. Most have a ditch around at least three sides to facilitate drainage. Inside are a series of narrow interconnecting trenches. These were excavated and covered with stone or turf before the mound was constructed.
The large multivallate hillfort called Warbstow Bury is one of the largest and best preserved in Cornwall. The pillow mound known as the Giant's Grave also survives well; the placename of Bury also suggests it may once have formed part of a much larger warren. Both will contain archaeological and environment evidence relating to their construction development, use and links with agriculture and the hillfort will also contain information relating to social organisation, warfare, domestic arrangements, trade, industry and the overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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