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Historic England Research Records

Goldherring Settlement

Hob Uid: 422403
Location :
Cornwall
Cornwall
Sancreed
Grid Ref : SW4105028130
Summary : A defended settlement dating from the 1st century BC to the 6th century AD consisting of an enclosed settlement with hut circles and a field system. Roman coins and pottery have been found as well as hearths. Medieval tin smelting present in the 13th century. Scheduled.
More information : Name centred: [SW 4105 2813] BRITISH VILLAGE [OE] (1)

The date of the coins found at Goldherring (Posthumus - 259-67-and
Tetricus - 267-77) suggested that it might be another village of
'Courtyard House' type. Excavations began in the summer of 1958.
"In the 4 acre field in which the site lies the line of two terraces
can be seen, and also the dividing walls down the slope which
split the area into 8 small fields. On the south side of the
enclosure is a probable court-yard house. A small quadrant of
its courtyard was cleared in 1958 marked by a curve of large
stones. On the South side of the court, a doorway, blocked up
before the site was abandoned led into a long room, half of which
was excavated. Above these two sections is an oval bank of rubble,
the remains of a possibly later construction, ruined by
stone-robbing. It runs close to the foundations of a round hut.
The soil filling the round hut and the long room held a
considerable quantity of pottery, of the types found at Chysauster
and Porthmeor, native forms copying the forms of Roman England and
suggesting a date of 2nd-4th c. for the people living there. Several
hearths were found in the long room, the two earliest showing signs
of long use, the later ones less permanent. some corroded iron
objects were found in both areas, while in the long room large
amounts of charcoal, some pieces of unusual size were excavated.
It is believed smelting may have taken place on the spot for one
hearth showed signs of high temperatures and there were lumps of
slag in the soil nearby. Among the other finds was part of a hand
rotary-quern...and a broken saddle quern of earlier date; apparently
re-used to grind a metal ore. Spindle-whorls of pottery and
slate....whetstones and rubbing-stones....
The ring-wall, which one trench showed to have been soundly
stone-built, is more substantial on the N. and E. sides, where it
forms a field boundary and has been protected. On the E. side is
the original gateway of the settlement, walled up until very
recently,..... This entrance way 9' wide and long, is walled with
massive granite slabs, and paved with small slabs. On the N. side
the hinge socket of a gate still remains with signs of wear
indicating a light gate opening outwards". [See/59/282/6] (2)

Sancreed: Goldherring ancient village.
Scheduled Ancient Monument. (3)

The site consists of a roughly circular enclosure (centred at
SW 41112821), bounded by a ring-wall, and containing hut chambers,
and an annex to the north-west.
The ring-wall, on all but the north and north-east sides, is grass
covered, and its dry stone construction is only visible where an
excavation trench has been dug. The north and north-east sides,
which are incorporated in a modern field wall, are in good
condition. The main gateway to the north-east is well defined,
(Ground photograph AO/60/367/1-from the S.W.), but blocked
by modern dry stone walling, as in another gap to the north.
The annex, to the north-west, is bounded on the north by a modern
field wall, and to the south and south-west by a grass covered
bank. There are a few stones visible in the northern part but
nothing that could be identified as a hut.
Hut chambers, four in number, have been excavated in the southern
half of the main enclosure, and are constructed of dry stone
walling up to 1.2m. high. There are indications, particularly in the
western round hut, of superimposition, representing two periods of
occupation. Banks in the northern half of the enclosure indicate
the presence of more huts, but their plan is not clear. Another
hut to the east encroached into the rampart and presumably
represents a secondary stage in the occupation.
The accompanying field system (centred at SW 41142816) to the south,
is as shown on Guthrie's plan of the site (AO/59/282/6). The
terraced fields are bounded by ruinous stone walls with lynchets
on their lower sides.
A 25 inch survey has been made. (4)
A brief report summarising two seasons of excavation.
The ring wall of stone was surrounded by a rock cut ditch four feet
deep, never completely finished and filled in before the settlement
was abandoned.
On the east side is the original gateway to the settlement,
originally cobbled but later paved with smaller slabs. A second and
later entrance, blocked in modern times, opened to the north.
Within the courtyard house three chambers have been excavated.
The first is a large oval hut with an eastern entrance opening on
to an open court. In the hut was a large beehive shaped hearth and
many other lesser hearths (one provisionally dated by
geomagnetic examination to 4th c. A.D.). Fragments of slag and iron
and pottery were found. The hut may have been a dwelling and a
workshop.
To the south of this a round room opens on to the court. It had a
central hearth and from the large number of pottery sherds must
have been a dwelling.
Further south a third entrance leads from the court to another
room. In the later use of the site one side of the room was removed
and a rectangular addition more than doubled its size. A central
hearth showed signs of high temperatures and much charcoal and
some iron and slag were found, as well as a great deal of pottery.
Pottery from the site denotes an occupation from the 1st to 4th
c. A.D. Other finds include portions of rotary querns, whetstones,
part of a granite bowl and spindle whorls. (5)

Settlement (NR) (6)

Goldherring, a small defended settlement standing within a field
system, was excavated between 1958 and 1961, see plans.

The four acre croft is clearly divided by two discontinuous
terraces, further divided by two low walls running down the slope.
A third wall running across the croft is almost certainly a medieval
superimposition.

The settlement was completely ringed by a ditch, except for a 4ft
wide causeway opposite the east gateway site A.

From the gateway was a continuous bank round the south to the west,
where it was trampled very low rising again towards the modern hedge
at the north. A laid stone facing showed wherever the originally
7ft high bank was sampled. There was a second entrance at the north
blocked by modern walling.

The settlement was shown to have been occupied during four periods,
having been established on virgin ground probably by an immigrant
native or foreign group in the last decades BC or first AD. The
earliest pottery found were cordoned and associated wares which
seem to originate in northern France.

The first phase consisted of a ditched and banked enclosure with
a fairly extensive settlement within the defences, the main
remnants being 'Hut L' and the well at 'C'. The well outside the
defences (SW 42 NW 41) was also contemporary. Whetstones were
found in the lowest levels but no other finds; broken saddle querns
were found built into later walls, not in situ, like the rotary
querns.

This settlement was probably abandoned before Roman influence
affected Cornwall, and turf grew over the site.

The second settlement took place about 3rd century AD by local
natives and it is this phase that is substantially represented
by the surviving building remains. From the newly paved gateway with
a swing gate a paved way led to an open court south of the centre
of the enclosure area. The terraced field system was laid out at
this time.

Scant traces of the village economy were found, only a few spindle
whorls. A few coins and beads suggest little contact with the Roman
world proper. Hut D/R was used for iron working but probably not
for smelting.

There appears to have been uninterrupted occupation with
development being represented by a large found working enclosure,
F. Pottery suggests that the settlement was abandoned in the late
4th century.

Considerable signs of smelting were found associated with a third
use of the site in the 5th or 6th centuries. There appears to have
been a small workshop in use when the rest of the site was in
decay.

After about 700 years Hut B was adapted for the reduction of tin
ores and pottery suggests a terminal date for this activity in the
13th century.

Scheduled under Camps and Settlements. (7-9)

Goldherring Courtyard House Settlement. This scheduled site is
totally obscured by a dense cover of gorse, scrub, bramble, ivy
and bracken. No further information was gained locally on its
condition but it is presumed still extant.
Published 1/2500 survey accepted. (10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Annotated Record Map
Source details : O.S.6" 1908
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Proceedings of the West Cornwall Field Club
Source details : "The R.B. Native Settlement Plan at Goldherring Sancreed' (A. Guthrie)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5, 1959
Source Number :
Source : SW 42 NW 38 (1960)
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : List Anc. Mon. in Eng. and Wales. 1958 p.21 (M.O.W.)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 GHP 02-NOV-60
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : The R.B. Settlement at Goldherring, Sancreed, 1960, (Pamphlet W. Cornwall Field Club, Field Guide No. 5) (A Guthrie)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1978
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Cornish archaeology
Source details : (A Guthrie)
Page(s) : May-39
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : Aug-69
Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : DOE (IAM) Sched List 31.12.77
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : West Penwith survey
Source details :
Page(s) : 45, 53,68
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 MJF 10-OCT-85
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Late Iron Age
Display Date : Late Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -100
Monument Type : Enclosed Hut Circle Settlement
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Enclosed Hut Circle Settlement, Iron Working Site, Field System
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Find
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Early Medieval
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 410
Monument Type : Tin Works, Enclosed Settlement
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 1199
Monument Start Date : 1100
Monument Type : Smeltery
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Enclosed Hut Circle Settlement, Iron Working Site, Field System
Object Type : VESSEL, COIN
Object Material : Pottery

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : SW42NW229
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CO 263
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : SW42NW22
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : SW42NW222
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : SW42NW223
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : SW42NW23
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : SW42NW27
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Cornwall)
External Cross Reference Number : /022-/027
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SW 42 NW 38
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : GOLDHERRING
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1958-01-01
End Date : 1962-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SW 42 NW 38
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1960-11-02
End Date : 1960-11-02
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SW 42 NW 38
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1985-10-10
End Date : 1985-10-10