Neolithic hilltop enclosure and Iron Age defended settlement known as Trencrom Castle


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


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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:
SW 51790 36206

Reasons for Designation

Neolithic hilltop enclosures in common with other similar types of monument in South West England seem to have emphasised natural features such as distinctive hills and rock outcrops for their specific locations. A visible means of indicating reverence or a sacred area via a ring or enclosure of upright slabs is a common feature of several Neolithic monument types including stone circles, funerary cairns and kerbed boulders, the chief difference appears to be mainly one of scale. With a hilltop enclosure, for example the entire hilltop has been included and not just a boulder or tor outcrop. As a very rare monument type with ancient origins they provide valuable insights into the ordering of the landscape within prehistoric belief systems which are not fully understood, as well as indicating their significance in social organisation and for settlement patterns. Trencrom Castle is thought to be of this rare type of monument which was subsequently re-used and modified during the Iron Age. At this time South Western England was characterised by different types of settlement hierarchy with hillforts at the top. In addition to hillforts were a group of smaller sites known as defended settlements. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha. Where excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. The continuing use of the site as a quarry and for mineral extraction as well as its use as a war memorial indicate the significant role this distinctive hillside has continued to hold through time, for spiritual, social and economic reasons. It will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function, and re-use, social, ritual, defensive, agricultural, economic, domestic and territorial significance as well as its overall landscape context.


The monument includes a Neolithic hilltop enclosure situated at the summit of the prominent Trencrom Hill with outstanding panoramic views. The enclosure survives as an irregular area of approximately 0.92 hectares defined by a single rampart composed of doubled faced horizontally or vertically placed rocks in-filled with earth and small stones, with a possible semi-circular annexe defined by a scarp to the east. The rampart varies from 1.8m to 3.7m wide and is up to 2.2m high. The interior is divided by a natural rock outcrop. There are entrances to both the east and west. Both entrances contain a pair of granite jamb stones with the rampart being slightly inturned and widened. Both entrances have up to 6m wide hollow ways leading from them. There are several possible house platforms within the enclosure and a number of mineral prospecting pits with associated spoil heaps. There is also evidence for post medieval stone splitting and quarrying. First recorded by Borlase in the 18th century, the enclosure was surprisingly disregarded by antiquarian writers. Henderson made a detailed description and sketch survey in the 1920's. Hencken reported some fragments of Iron Age pottery had been found there. Weatherhill also surveyed the area and reported finds of Neolithic axes, Iron Age and possible Saxon pottery. The monument was donated to the National Trust in 1946 as a war memorial.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-424816

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 9 December 2016.


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

Legacy System number:
CO 31
Legacy System:


War Memorials Online, accessed 09/12/2016 from


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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