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HER Number:18163
Name:CARN BREA - Neolithic tor enclosure, Iron Age hillfort

Summary

Carn Brea is a multi-phase site with evidence for activity ranging from the Mesolithic to the Post-Medieval period.

Grid Reference:SW 686 407
Parish:Carn Brea, Kerrier, Cornwall
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Protected Status

  • Conservation Area: CARN BREA
  • Scheduled Monument CO79: Carn Brea Castle

Other References/Statuses

  • Heritage at Risk (National)
  • Primary Record No. (1985-2009): 18163
  • SMR No. (OS Quarter-sheet and SMR No.): SW64SE 113

Monument Types

Full description

Carn Brea is a multi-phase site with evidence for occupation and other activity, ranging from the Mesolithic to the Post-Medieval period. The earliest occupation of the hill is represented by finds of microliths and other Mesolithic flints (18163.1).

The site was first studied by Borlase, whose 1754 publication attributed the site to the Druids. A plan and further descriptions were made by Wilkinson in 1860. Peter and Burnard undertook fairly extensive excavations, mainly in the central 'saddle' but also on the eastern summit, in 1895 (b4, b5). Some unrecorded excavations, apparently on the eastern summit, were made by Blight in the 1920s (b12). The OS surveyed the hill in 1970 (h1). Excavations directed by Roger Mercer followed from 1970 to 1973, mostly in and around the eastern enclosure but also at points on the 'saddle' and the ramparts (h3, b12). A full survey of the hill was made by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit in 1985 (h7).

Mercer's excavations demonstrated that the enclosure on the eastern summit and the internal rampart across the southern hillslope were constructed, occupied, attacked and abandoned in the early Neolithic. Two radiocarbon dates provide a start and end date range for the walls; sample BM-825, taken from below the wall indicates that it was built at some time prior to 3900-3650BC and sample BM-824, taken from above the wall, shows that it was in a state of collapse shortly after 3600-3350BC (b12). The other ramparts and the enclosure on the western summit were not examined but it is likely that these too were Neolithic in origin, as they form a cohesive system of enclosure of the hilltop. The field system on the southern slopes of the saddle has also been dated to the early Neolithic, and much pottery, and many stone and flint artefacts have been found (18163.21-.28). Evidence from the Bronze Age consists essentially of single finds or hoards of tools or weapons, including two barbed-and-tanged arrowheads from Mercer's excavations (18163.31-.34).

It is probable that the Neolithic ramparts were repaired and re-used in the Iron Age, with some possible additional new elements. Up to twelve round houses on the 'saddle' are also of this period, and Iron Age pottery, a quernstone and spindlewhorls were found in excavating the settlement. In addition, several stray finds and hoards of gold and bronze coins and other Iron Age artefacts have been recorded from the hilltop (18163.4-.48).

There are some Romano-British artefacts from the C19 and C20 excavations, but most finds of this period consist of bronze or gold coins and hoards, loosely provenanced (18163.51-.59). There is little to indicate Post-Roman/Early Medieval occupation.

The Basset family built a castle on the eastern summit, which may also have served as a hunting lodge for the associated deer park and as a chapel in the later middle ages (18163.71-72). This was rebuilt as a hunting lodge in the C18 and has for some years been a restaurant.

Post-Medieval sites include a well, a possible pillow mound, and the Basset memorial (18163.81-.84). Folklore relating to the giant of the hill was recorded in the C19 (18163.85).

--------------------------------
Site history:
h1: 1970. NVQ/OS
h2: 1970. ANK/OS
h4: 1979. SHEPPARD, PA/IAM
h5: 1981. SHEPPARD, PA/IAM
h6: 1983. SHEPPARD, PA/IAM
h7: 1985. SG, AS/CAU
--------------------------------


<b1> Borlase, W, 1754, Antiquities Historical and Monumental of the County of Cornwall (Bibliographic reference). SCO2878.


<b2> Lysons, D & S, 1814, Magna Britannia, VOL 3, CORNWALL (Bibliographic reference). SCO3885.


<b3> WILKINSON, G, 1860, CARN BREA (OR CARN BRE), VOL 13, 15-43, 56 (Unedited Source). SCO6134.


<b4> Peter, TC, 1896, The Expoloration of Carn Brea, VOL 12, 92-102 (Article in serial). SCO5139.


<b5> BURNARD, R, 1896, THE EXPLORATION OF CARN BREA (Unedited Source). SCO6572.


<b6> Page, W (Editor), 1906, Victoria History of the County of Cornwall, 34 (Bibliographic reference). SCO4068.


<b7> Hencken, HO, 1932, The Archaeology of Cornwall and Scilly, 128-130 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3489.


<b8> Henderson, C, 1935, Essays in Cornish History, 162 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3501.


<b9> Harvey, J (Ed), 1969, Itineraries of William of Worcestre, 21 (Bibliographic reference). SCO3466.


<b10> Mercer, R, 1972, The Excavation of the Neolithic Settlement, Carn Brea, 1972: interim note (Cornish Archaeology 11, 1972), 8 (Article in serial). SCO3931.


<b11> Ordnance Survey, 19--, OS Card Index (Unpublished document). SCO5189.


<b12> Mercer, R, 1981, Excavations at Carn Brea, Illogan (Article in serial). SCO3929.


<b13> Sharpe, A, 1986, Carn Brea (Cornwall Event Report). SCO2047.

Sources / Further Reading

[b1]SCO2878 - Bibliographic reference: Borlase, W. 1754. Antiquities Historical and Monumental of the County of Cornwall.
[b2]SCO3885 - Bibliographic reference: Lysons, D & S. 1814. Magna Britannia. VOL 3, CORNWALL.
[b3]SCO6134 - Unedited Source: WILKINSON, G. 1860. CARN BREA (OR CARN BRE). JRIC. VOL 13, 15-43, 56.
[b4]SCO5139 - Article in serial: Peter, TC. 1896. The Expoloration of Carn Brea. JRIC Vol 13. VOL 12, 92-102.
[b5]SCO6572 - Unedited Source: BURNARD, R. 1896. THE EXPLORATION OF CARN BREA. TRANS PLYMOUTH INST & D&C N HIST SOC.
[b6]SCO4068 - Bibliographic reference: Page, W (Editor). 1906. Victoria History of the County of Cornwall. Page, W. 34.
[b7]SCO3489 - Bibliographic reference: Hencken, HO. 1932. The Archaeology of Cornwall and Scilly. 128-130.
[b8]SCO3501 - Bibliographic reference: Henderson, C. 1935. Essays in Cornish History. 162.
[b9]SCO3466 - Bibliographic reference: Harvey, J (Ed). 1969. Itineraries of William of Worcestre. 21.
[b10]SCO3931 - Article in serial: Mercer, R. 1972. The Excavation of the Neolithic Settlement, Carn Brea, 1972: interim note (Cornish Archaeology 11, 1972). CA No 11. 8.
[b11]SCO5189 - Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey. 19--. OS Card Index.
[b12]SCO3929 - Article in serial: Mercer, R. 1981. Excavations at Carn Brea, Illogan. CA No 20.
[b13]SCO2047 - Cornwall Event Report: Sharpe, A. 1986. Carn Brea.

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • ECO2230 - Neolithic Settlement at Carn Brea
  • ECO2244 - Carn Brea
  • ECO2286 - Carn Brea, Illogan, Cornwall
  • ECO269 - Carn Brea

Related records

18163.31Parent of: CARN BREA - Bronze Age findspot (Find Spot)
18163.32Parent of: CARN BREA - Bronze Age findspot (Find Spot)
18163.33Parent of: CARN BREA - Bronze Age findspot (Find Spot)
18163.34Parent of: CARN BREA - Bronze Age findspot (Find Spot)
18163.43Parent of: CARN BREA - Iron Age field system (Monument)
18163.47Parent of: CARN BREA - Iron Age findspot (Find Spot)
18163.41Parent of: CARN BREA - Iron Age hillfort (Monument)
18163.42Parent of: CARN BREA - Iron Age hut circle, Iron Age settlement (Monument)
18163.71Parent of: CARN BREA - Medieval castle, Medieval chapel, Post Medieval beacon (Monument)
18163.72Parent of: CARN BREA - Medieval deer park (Monument)
18163.10Parent of: CARN BREA - Mesolithic findspot (Find Spot)
18163.25Parent of: CARN BREA - Neolithic field system (Monument)
18163.27Parent of: CARN BREA - Neolithic lithic scatter (Monument)
18163.28Parent of: CARN BREA - Neolithic lithic scatter (Monument)
18163.24Parent of: CARN BREA - Neolithic occupation site, Neolithic hearth (Monument)
18163.21Parent of: CARN BREA - Neolithic settlement (Monument)
18163.23Parent of: CARN BREA - Neolithic settlement (Monument)
18163.22Parent of: CARN BREA - Neolithic tor enclosure (Monument)
18163.84Parent of: CARN BREA - Post Medieval commemorative monument (Monument)
18163.85Parent of: CARN BREA - Post Medieval folklore site (Monument)
18163.83Parent of: CARN BREA - Post Medieval pillow mound (Monument)
18163.82Parent of: CARN BREA - Post Medieval well (Monument)
18163.45Parent of: CARN BREA - Prehistoric findspot (Find Spot)
18163.53Parent of: CARN BREA - Romano British findspot (Find Spot)
18163.55Parent of: CARN BREA - Romano British findspot (Find Spot)
18163.59Parent of: CARN BREA - Romano British findspot (Find Spot)
18163.51Parent of: CARN BREA - Romano British occupation site (Monument)

Images

CARN BREA: CARN LANDSCAPE  © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA: CARN LANDSCAPE © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA: CARN LANDSCAPE  © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA: CARN LANDSCAPE © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA  © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA  © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA  © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA  © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA  © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA  © Cornwall Council

CARN BREA © Cornwall Council