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HER Number:18163.23
Name:CARN BREA - Neolithic settlement


Lean-to Neolithic houses were found against the ramparts of the eastern enclosure at Carn Brea

Grid Reference:SW 6865 4082
Parish:Carn Brea, Kerrier, Cornwall
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Protected Status

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

Other References/Statuses

  • Primary Record No. (1985-2009): 18163.23
  • SMR No. (OS Quarter-sheet and SMR No.): SW64SE 113.2-.4

Monument Type(s):

Full description

Mercer's excavations in the 1970s revealed that a Neolithic settlement was situated on terraces on the rocky eastern summit of Carn Brea in an area enclosed by a massive stone rampart (18163.22). At least three, and possibly many more, structures were identified, each defined by stake and post holes,
Peter and Burnard investigated a number of "boulder huts" on the eastern summit in their 1895 excavations, apparently an indication of occupied terraces (b1). Mercer recovered evidence for three fairly well-defined structures on his sites A1, D and J within the Neolithic ramparts. He describes two "lean-to" structures, built against the enclosing wall at sites A1 and J, the former being approximately 10m long and 3m wide, and also recorded traces of a more substantial timber structure inside the wall at site D. From the presence of at least 15 level cleared areas on the eastern summit, he suggests that the settlement may have been a sizeable village of perhaps 150-200 people, and that the excavations indicate protracted and possibly multi-phase occupation.
Quantities of Neolithic pottery were found in the course of the excavations, principally on the eastern summit where the Neolithic settlement is situated. Peter and Burnard found pottery in their 1895 excavations including fine "wheel made" wares. Mercer interprets the latter as the burnished Hembury Ware and says there is no wheel thrown pottery in their collection. The shouldered bowls and other Neolithic pottery from his 1970-1973 excavations are discussed in detail by Elisabeth Smith in Mercer's excavation report (b4).
In addition to the pottery, a total of 26,382 pieces of worked flint and chert were recovered during the 1970-1973 excavations, mainly from the eastern summit . Of particular interest were the 700 or more leaf-shaped arrowheads clustering round the entrance to the eastern terrace, which have been interpreted as evidence that the site was attacked in the Neolithic period, and provided some of the earliest evidence for 'armed conflict' at this early date..
Axes and axe fragments, querns, rubbers, a bead and other stone objects are also described in detail in the excavation report .

<1> Peter, TC, 1896, The Expoloration of Carn Brea, VOL 12, 92-102 (Article in serial). SCO5139.

<2> CORCORAN, JXWP, 1960, THE CARLINGFORD CULTURE, VOL 7, 134-135 (Unedited Source). SCO7763.

<3> Mercer, R, 1970, The Neolithic Settlement on Carn Brea: Preliminary Report, 1970 (Cornish Archaeology No 9, 1970), VOL 9, 56 (Article in serial). SCO3933.

<4> SMITH, IF, 1981, EXCAVATIONS AT CARN BREA, ILLOGAN, 161-185 (Unedited Source). SCO8633.

<5> BURNARD, R, 1896, THE EXPLORATION OF CARN BREA, 1-54 (Unedited Source). SCO6572.

<6> Mercer, R, 1981, Excavations at Carn Brea, Illogan, 15 (Article in serial). SCO3929.

Sources / Further Reading

[1]SCO5139 - Article in serial: Peter, TC. 1896. The Expoloration of Carn Brea. JRIC Vol 13. VOL 12, 92-102.
[2]SCO7763 - Unedited Source: CORCORAN, JXWP. 1960. THE CARLINGFORD CULTURE. PPS. VOL 7, 134-135.
[3]SCO3933 - Article in serial: Mercer, R. 1970. The Neolithic Settlement on Carn Brea: Preliminary Report, 1970 (Cornish Archaeology No 9, 1970). CA No 9. VOL 9, 56.
[4]SCO8633 - Unedited Source: SMITH, IF. 1981. EXCAVATIONS AT CARN BREA, ILLOGAN. MERCER, R (ED). 161-185.
[6]SCO3929 - Article in serial: Mercer, R. 1981. Excavations at Carn Brea, Illogan. CA No 20. 15.

Associated Finds

  • FCO3259 - ARROWHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO3377 - AXEHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO3378 - AXEHEAD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO1546 - BLADE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO1549 - CORE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO1550 - FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO1551 - KNIFE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO1547 - SADDLE QUERN (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO1548 - SCRAPER (TOOL) (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)
  • FCO1267 - SHERD (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2501 BC)

Associated Events: none recorded

Related records

18163Part of: CARN BREA - Neolithic tor enclosure, Iron Age hillfort (Monument)


No image caption available  © Cornwall Council

No image caption available © Cornwall Council