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Killibury Castle later Prehistoric hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Egloshayle, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5293 / 50°31'45"N

Longitude: -4.7972 / 4°47'49"W

OS Eastings: 201846.065402

OS Northings: 73683.190261

OS Grid: SX018736

Mapcode National: GBR ZW.XP7G

Mapcode Global: FRA 07VN.LWR

Entry Name: Killibury Castle later Prehistoric hillfort

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1928

Last Amended: 24 February 1992

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010439

English Heritage Legacy ID: 15011

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Egloshayle

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Breoke

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a small, circular, later prehistoric hillfort with two
earth and rubble ramparts and ditches, and a sub-rectangular outwork covering
the W entrance.
The hillfort comprises a near-circular interior area, 127m by 117m (1.17ha),
defined by a massive rampart, 10m wide and 2m high max., and outer ditch 10m
wide and 2m deep max. An outer rampart and ditch of similar proportions runs
concentric with the inner defences, with a featureless gap 9-18m wide between
the inner defensive ditch and the outer rampart. The NNE sector of the outer
rampart has been levelled. Breaks in these defences occur at the W and ENE
sides, considered to be the sites of original entrances, where the ditches
stop short and an early road, now a farm track, passes through. A break also
occurs at the NNW side, though there the outer ditch of the outer defensive
line continues across the break. The W entrance is protected by the surviving
N half of a sub-rectangular outwork comprising a rampart 10m wide and 0.5m
high, extending 40m W from the outermost ditch and returning 25m S to the
track. The bank has an outer ditch 15m wide and 0.5m deep. The surface
features of the SE quarter of the monument have been much reduced by recent
ploughing but the line of the former rampart remains clearly visible as a
surface undulation, while former surface traces of another outwork covering
the ENE entrance, beyond the protected area, have been completely destroyed.
Considerable information regarding the high quality and nature of sub-surface
features of this monument comes from recent excavations in the hillfort's SW
quarter, beyond the protected area of the monument, prior to its destruction
by the erection of an extended farm building complex. These revealed
extensive surviving structural features and occupation debris dating to the
later Bronze Age and throughout the Iron Age, with evidence for re-occupation
in the early post-Roman period. An old land surface preserved beneath the
ramparts revealed Neolithic or Bronze Age occupation debris. It is considered
that similar evidence survives throughout the area of the monument which is
continuous with the excavated areas beyond.
This hillfort has been identified by several authors with the 'kelliwic'
referred to in early medieval Welsh literature; direct references to the
hillfort date back to place-name evidence from the early 12th century and its
earliest description dates to 1478; it recurs in most 19th century antiquarian
references to Cornish antiquities, and for its archaeological importance and
possible early historical connections, in most detailed reviews of Cornwall's
history and monuments.
Killibury Castle occupies the summit of a low hill in the rolling coastal belt
between the River Camel estuary and Bodmin Moor. It has gentle slopes on all
sides, dropping to the River Allen at the SE side. It is 3.75km E of the head
of the Camel estuary and is close to the crossing point of two major
cross-country routes: NW-SE across Cornwall using the Camel and Fowey valleys,
and the NE-SW route along north Cornwall avoiding the high ground of Bodmin
All modern hedges, the dumped rubble and building materials, the modern bridge
for the track over the ditches, and the service trench carrying the water-pipe
through the western outwork are excluded from the scheduling but the land
beneath, including hedge-banks, is included. This monument is divided into
two separate constraint areas.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Small multivallate hillforts are defended enclosures situated on hilltops and
defined by two or more lines of closely-set earthworks, usually enclosing an
area of under 5ha. They form one of a range of known types of fortified
enclosure dating to the Iron Age, constructed during the period 6th century
B.C. to the 1st century A.D., and sometimes re-occupied during the Roman and
early medieval periods. They present a considerable variety of enclosure
shapes and rampart forms, usually with one or two entrances. Where excavated,
structures within the enclosure have included round or rectangular houses and
associated buildings, often post or stake-built but sometimes of stone;
metalled or cobbled roads; hearths; ovens; storage pits; gullies; scatters of
post and stake holes, and, by the entrances, post-hole evidence for gate and
guard houses. Settlement evidence sometimes extends outside the area enclosed
by the earthworks. Outworks are occasionally found, usually associated with
the approach to the entrance. These monuments are regarded as high status
settlements, permanently occupied, engaged in trade and with evidence for
industrial activities such as metal-working, potting, spinning and weaving,
and agricultural processes including corn-grinding. About 100 small
multivallate hillforts are recorded nationally, commonest in the west and
south midlands, central southern and south-west England. They are important
as nationally rare monuments which contribute significantly to our knowledge
of settlement organisation, and economic and social activities during the Iron
Age. Consequently all such monuments which preserve good evidence typical of
the main known types, and their regional and topographical spread, would
normally be considered of national importance.
Killibury Castle is of particular importance because of the good preservation
of a substantial proportion of its defences above ground, and the evidence
from recent excavations for the survival beneath the ploughsoil of extensive
areas of undisturbed sub-surface deposits deriving from a considerable period
of occupation and re-occupation. Its importance is further enhanced by the
regional significance of the major route-crossing point that this hillfort
controlled, by its early medieval literary connections, and by its recurrence
in antiquarian records dating back to the 15th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ashe, G, The Quest for Arthur's Britain, (1971)
Henderson, C, The Cornish Church Guide, (1928)
Maclean, J, History of Trigg Minor, (1873)
Miles, H et al, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Excavations At Killibury Hillfort, , Vol. 16, (1977)
Padel, O J, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Kellywic In Cornwall, , Vol. 16, (1977)
Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17991, Killibury Castle,
Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17992, Tregilders,
Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 26021, Killibury enclosure,
Fox, A., South-West England, (1964)

Source: Historic England

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