A henge re-used as a medieval playing place, 75m north east of Castle Hill Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 03111 62755

Reasons for Designation

Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or oval- shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed by a ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to the interior of the monument, which may have contained a variety of features including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or central mounds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide important evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in which they were constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the exception of south-eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. They are generally situated on low ground, often close to springs and water-courses. Henges are rare nationally with about 80 known examples.

Medieval playing places, known as Plain an Gwary in Cornwall, are an early form of outdoor theatre usually oval or circular in shape and defined by an outer bank. They are the places where mystery plays and various social, religious and political events were held through time. Despite some disturbance and partial excavation, the henge re-used as a medieval playing place 75m north east of Castle Hill Farm survives comparatively well. It has proved to be an unusual and rare juxtaposition of two rare monument classes with an early henge having been re-used as a social and ceremonial meeting place much later, possibly reflecting a very close parallel of uses. Its subsequent re-use as a ready made gun emplacement during the turbulent Civil War serves to underline the importance of communications to this area. It will still contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, and re-use, social, ritual, territorial and strategic significance throughout a very long and varied time frame as well as illustrating its overall landscape context.


The monument includes a henge, re-used as a playing place, situated on the summit of a relatively low rise called Castle Hill within Innis Downs, close to the source of the Luxulyan River. The henge survives as an oval enclosure with a level interior measuring 48.8m long by 29.6m wide internally. It is defined by an approximately 1.4m high bank, inner berm and a 1.7m deep inner ditch. The bank has been partially cut by a hedge, and the ditch is largely preserved as a buried feature. There are two entrances; the one to the north is a simple causeway across the ditch and is original.

The enclosure is called 'castle' on the 1840 Ordnance Survey map and is referred to as 'castilly' by 19th century writers. In 1852 R Thomas suggested it was a cattle fold but both Borlase and Henderson believed it was a medieval playing place. It was first interpreted as a henge in 1954 and in 1962 it was partially excavated by C Thomas. Although producing little in the way of finds apart from some flint flakes and medieval pottery, the work concluded that the ditch was that of a Class I henge which had been built in sections. This had been cleared and the bank remodelled during the 13th century to construct a playing place. Subsequently, the enclosed area had been re-used as a gun emplacement during the Civil War the evidence came from cannon wheel ruts and cannon balls.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-431486


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
CO 110
Legacy System:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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