Ancient Monuments

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Golden Camp hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Probus, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.2851 / 50°17'6"N

Longitude: -4.9148 / 4°54'53"W

OS Eastings: 192449.369506

OS Northings: 46855.957741

OS Grid: SW924468

Mapcode National: GBR ZP.T28J

Mapcode Global: FRA 08L8.WL6

Entry Name: Golden Camp hillfort

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1929

Last Amended: 10 August 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016889

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29682

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Probus

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Probus

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a prehistoric large univallate hillfort known as Golden
Camp, located on a south facing slope at the eastern end of a spur which
overlooks the west bank of the River Fal. The defences enclose an irregular
pear-shaped area of about 3.4ha which tapers to a blunted point at its eastern
end; the wider and squarer western end has what is considered to be an
original entrance through the defences.
The interior of the hillfort has maximum dimensions of 290m east-west by 160m
north-south and is defended by a single rampart and ditch which is well
preserved over much of its circuit. The rampart, which is flat topped, has a
considerable inner and outer scarp; it has an average height of 1.5m and
achieves an average width of 10m where it survives best on the north and west
sides, the southern side having been reduced by cultivation. The rampart is
fronted by a `U'-shaped ditch which is on average 1.8m deep and 4.7m wide, but
is wider and somewhat deeper along the western side where the ground is
flatter; elsewhere it has been filled by cultivation. Several cuts through the
rampart at various points on its circuit are considered to be relatively
modern but a 10m wide causeway on the western side, where the ditch terminals
inturn slightly, probably marks the site of the original entrance; this gap
also has the advantage of facing the only reasonably level approach.
Golden Camp is considered to have been occupied in the Iron Age but it is
unclear whether this occupation would have continued after the establishment
of the late pre-Roman Iron Age and Romano-British site at Carvossa some 1.5km
to the north west.
The monument may have been utilised for some unknown defensive function as
late as the medieval period as it is mentioned in land deeds of the 12th and
13th century where it is described as a `small castle'.

All fencing and fence posts, gates and gate posts, are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and
surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions.
They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used
between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for
earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the
ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on
such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with
display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of
redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen.
The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of
slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may
survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and
between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or
two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned
ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the
passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by
outworks. 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. Large
univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded
nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the
chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is
marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further
examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north.
Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in
their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual
components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their
importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron
Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed
to be of national importance.

The large univallate hillfort of Golden Camp has good preservation and
survival of the greater part of its defensive circuit despite some reduction
due to cultivation on its southern side. It will contain archaeological
information relating to the construction and use of the site, the lives of the
inhabitants, and the landscape in which they lived. Golden Camp is at the very
extreme western range of this class of monument and is one of only a small
number of examples in Cornwall. It is also unusual in being referred to in the
medieval period, sources suggesting a later use for the monument long
after it ceased to function as a prehistoric site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Cornwall, (1906), 467-69
Borlase, W, Antiquities of Cornwall, (1769), 313
Gilbert, D, 'Parochial History of Cornwall' in , , Vol. III, (1838), 365-67
Henderson, C, 'Journal of the Royal Institute of Cornwall' in Ecclesiastical Antiquities, , Vol. 3.4, (1960), 419

Source: Historic England

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