Ancient Monuments

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Multiple enclosure fort 320m north of Engelly

A Scheduled Monument in St. Allen, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3332 / 50°19'59"N

Longitude: -5.086 / 5°5'9"W

OS Eastings: 180477.972029

OS Northings: 52701.013141

OS Grid: SW804527

Mapcode National: GBR ZC.4563

Mapcode Global: FRA 0875.2D6

Entry Name: Multiple enclosure fort 320m north of Engelly

Scheduled Date: 11 February 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020177

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32948

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Allen

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Kenwyn with St Allen

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The scheduling includes a later prehistoric multiple enclosure fort, with
evidence for reuse as a medieval plain an gwarry or playing place, situated on
a slight slope on the south west shoulder of a ridge north of Zelah. The
overall ground plan of the site, shown by the detailed mapping of aerial
photographic evidence, is irregular, measuring up to 150m north west-south
east and 110m south west-north east. It contains the ovoid fort, up to
approximately 120m north west-south east by 100m north east-south west, with a
sub-rectangular inner enclosure, and a surrounding outer enclosure; features
adjoining the fort on the north east and south east sides are considered to
form parts of an associated outwork and field boundary respectively.
The fort's inner enclosure measures approximately 70m WSW-ENE by 45m NNW-SSE.
It has a rampart of earth and stone, upstanding on the south and west sides
where it is modified to form part of a modern field boundary bank, with traces
of an external ditch some 5m wide and up to 0.5m deep at the south west
corner. The aerial photographs show a buried ditch continuing around the
enclosure, with a gap on the north east side representing an entrance and a
pit-like feature in the interior towards the north.
The outer area of the fort is enclosed by double ramparts with external
ditches. The innermost of these ramparts is visible around the north and east
sides, in the form of a bank of earth and stone approximately 14m wide and up
to 0.4m high. Aerial photographs show a buried ditch outside this bank and
continuing beyond it. They also show segments of the outermost of the double
earthworks which, by analogy with similar sites, will continue around the
outer enclosure. A gap in the earthworks on the north east side is an original
entrance, aligned with the inner entrance noted above. The area within this
enclosure is approximately 10m-40m wide between its defences and those of the
inner enclosure.
The aerial photographs provide evidence of a ditch forming an angular outwork
or part of an annexe extending north from the west side of the outer entrance
on the north east side of the fort. It also shows a bank running south east
from the outer enclosure on the south east side, thought to be a 19th century
field boundary, now removed. This feature appears on the St Allen tithe map of
An early 17th century document gives the name Plyn en Gwear for the fort,
apparently a variant of the Cornish term plain an gwarry, or medieval playing
place, a circular embanked arena for miracle plays. It is therefore considered
that the fort's inner enclosure was reused in this way.
All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath it 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

Multiple enclosure forts comprise an inner and one or more outer enclosed
areas, together measuring up to c.10ha, and defined by sub-circular or sub-
rectangular earthworks spaced at intervals which exceed 15m; the inner
enclosure is usually entirely surrounded by a bank and ditch. The forts date
mainly to the Late Iron Age (350 BC-c.AD 50) and in England usually occur in
the south west. Most are sited on hillslopes overlooked by higher ground near
a water supply, and many were apparently used for periods of up to 250 years.
The outer enclosures of the forts are usually interpreted as areas set aside
for the containment of livestock, whilst the inner enclosures are generally
thought to have been the focus of occupation.
The earthworks usually include a bank with an outer V-shaped ditch 1m-3m deep.
Entrances are generally single gaps through each line of defence, often
aligned to create a passage from the outer to the inner enclosure, although
there are a few examples where entrances through successive earthworks are not
in alignment. Occasionally the interval between the gaps is marked by inturned
ramparts or low banks and ditches, while the outer entrance may be screened by
a short length of earthwork. Excavations within the inner enclosures have
revealed a range of buildings and structures, including circular structures,
hearths, ovens and cobbled surfaces as well as occasional small pits and large
depressions which may have functioned as watering holes.
Multiple enclosure forts are relatively rare with only around 75 examples
recorded in England, mostly in Devon and Cornwall. Outside these counties
their distribution becomes increasingly scattered and the form and
construction methods more varied. They are important for the study of
settlement and stock management in the later prehistoric period, and most
well-preserved examples will be identified as being of national importance.

The multiple enclosure fort 320m north of Engelly survives well. Despite some
reduction and modification of the enclosing banks and ditches, it remains
substantially intact. The old land surface underlying the upstanding
earthworks, and remains of buildings, structures and other deposits associated
with these, will survive. The historical association with a medieval plain an
gwarry illustrates one form of reuse of this monument type.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Padel, O J, Cornish placename elements, (1985), 186,114
Dyer, CA, Cornwall Mapping Programme, (1999)
Dyer, CA, Cornwall Mapping Programme, (1999)
Letters 40, 43, Thomas, R, Letter to the West Briton, (1850)
MS at RIC library, Truro, Henderson, C, Topography of Penwith, Topography of Penwith, (1920)
SW 85 SW 25, King, AN, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1970)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1880

Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1908

Title: Ordnance Survey 2" drawing
Source Date: 1810

Title: Perranzabuloe Tithe Apportionment
Source Date: 1840
Title: St Allen Tithe Apportionment
Source Date: 1840
267, 268

Source: Historic England

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