Ancient Monuments

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Polwhele Castle: a round with hut circle and field system 160m south west of Higher Tregurra

A Scheduled Monument in Truro, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.277 / 50°16'37"N

Longitude: -5.0374 / 5°2'14"W

OS Eastings: 183680.777226

OS Northings: 46307.02375

OS Grid: SW836463

Mapcode National: GBR ZH.6L0F

Mapcode Global: FRA 08B9.HB4

Entry Name: Polwhele Castle: a round with hut circle and field system 160m south west of Higher Tregurra

Scheduled Date: 3 September 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020800

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32968

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Truro

Built-Up Area: Truro

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Clement

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The scheduling includes a round of the later prehistoric to Roman period known
as Polwhele Castle, with a hut circle and the known extent of an associated
field system, situated on a slight east slope near the top of a hill north of
Truro. Within the scheduling are also settlement-related features including a
possible kiln.

The round, on the north east side of the scheduling, is oval in plan,
measuring approximately 85m north east-south west by 67.5m north
west-south east externally. It has a rampart of earth and stone, modified
by ploughing, visible on the ground as a bank around 11m wide, 0.3m high
on the outside, and 0.1m high inside. The rampart is surrounded by a ditch
some 3.5m wide, now buried, shown on aerial photographs and a geophysical
survey. The geophysical survey also provided evidence of one or two other
lines of rampart and ditch, now levelled, around the north east side of
the enclosure, inside and concentric with the upstanding bank. This survey
also records a buried ditch defining a sub-circular feature some 17.5m
across externally within the round on the north east, thought to be a hut
circle contemporary with it.
The field system, surrounding Polwhele Castle on the north west and south
east sides, is represented by intersecting buried linear ditches on the
geophysical survey, and is also partially visible on the ground as slight
stony banks up to 9m wide. The field system is also considered to date
from later prehistoric or Roman times.
A buried sub-circular structure within the field system, on the south side
of the scheduling, is again shown by the geophysical survey. This measures
some 3.5m across and is thought to represent a large kiln. Smaller
pit-like buried features are also recorded in its vicinity. The possible
kiln and pits are also thought to be contemporary with the round.
The modern fencing, gate, and gate fittings, are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Rounds are small embanked enclosures, one of a range of settlement types
dating to between the later Iron Age and the early post-Roman period. Usually
circular or oval, they have a single earth and rubble bank and an outer ditch,
with one entrance breaking the circuit.
Excavations have produced drystone supporting walls within the bank, paved or
cobbled entrance ways, post built gate structures, and remains of timber, turf
or stone built houses of oval or rectangular plan, often set around the inner
edge of the enclosing bank. Other evidence includes hearths, drains, gullies,
pits and rubbish middens. Evidence for industrial activities has been
recovered from some sites, including small scale metal working and, among the
domestic debris, items traded from distant sources. Some rounds are associated
with secondary enclosures, either abutting the round as an annexe or forming
an additional enclosure.
Rounds are viewed primarily as agricultural settlements, the equivalents of
farming hamlets. They were replaced by unenclosed settlement types by the 7th
century AD. Over 750 rounds are recorded in the British Isles, occurring in
areas bordering the Irish Seas, but confined in England to south west Devon
and especially Cornwall, where many more examples may await discovery. Most
recorded examples are sited on hillslopes and spurs.
Rounds are important as one of the major sources of information on settlement
and social organisation of the Iron Age and Roman periods in south west
England. Consequently, sites with significant surviving remains will normally
be considered to be of national importance.

Despite modification by ploughing of the earthworks enclosing the round
and defining the associated fields, the round and field system 160m south
west of Higher Tregurra survive fairly well. The underlying old land
surface, and remains of any structures or other deposits associated with
this and with the upstanding earthworks and ditches, will also survive.
The presence of several lines of enclosing earthworks around part of the
round is unusual and indicates variety and complexity in the form of this
class of monument. The evidence for firing in kilns outside the round as
well as occupation within it may contribute to our understanding of
settlements of this type. The relationship with a field system will
contribute to our understanding of farming in this region in the later
prehistoric to Roman periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Henderson, C, 'The West Briton' in Article in the West Briton, (1928)
Mc'Lauchlan, H, 'Annual Report of the Royal Institution of Cornwall' in Notes on the Manors of Tewington, Moresk, and Tywarnhaile, , Vol. 29, (1848), 22-24
Sparvel-Bayly, J A, 'The Western Antiquary' in Some Cornish Castles, , Vol. 10, (1890), 56
AM Lab Report 175/88, Linford, P and D Shiel, Polwhele Castle, report on geophysical survey, 1988, (1988)
Dyer, C, Cornwall Mapping Project, (1999)
EH AM Lab report 175/88, Linford, P and D Shiel, Polwhele Castle, report on geophysical survey, 1988, (1988)
Letter in CAU information file, Linford, P, Polwhele Castle Magnetometer Survey, (1987)
PRN 25308, Hartgroves, S, Cornwall SMR, (1987)
Reid, S, Exeter Archaeology, to C Parkes, (2002)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map
Source Date: 1880

Title: St Clement Tithe Apportionment Map
Source Date: 1842

Source: Historic England

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