Multi-period archaeological landscape on Tregonning Hill


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.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1007293.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 03-Mar-2021 at 18:47:11.


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)
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 60155 30106

Reasons for Designation

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks and internal quarry scoops. The interior generally consists of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples recorded nationally. They are important for understanding the nature and development of social organisation. Rounds are small embanked enclosures, one of a range of settlement types dating to between the later Iron Age and the early post-Roman period. Usually circular or oval, they have a single earth and rubble bank and an outer ditch, with one entrance breaking the circuit. Excavations have produced drystone supporting walls within the bank, paved or cobbled entrance ways, post built gate structures, and remains of timber, turf or stone built houses of oval or rectangular plan, often set around the inner edge of the enclosing bank. Other evidence includes hearths, drains, gullies, pits and rubbish middens. Evidence for industrial activities has been recovered from some sites, including small scale metal working and, among the domestic debris, items traded from distant sources. Rounds are viewed primarily as agricultural settlements, the equivalents of farming hamlets. They were replaced by unenclosed settlement types by the 7th century AD. Over 750 rounds are recorded in the British Isles, occurring in areas bordering the Irish Seas, but confined in England to south west Devon and especially Cornwall. Most recorded examples are sited on hillslopes and spurs. Rounds are important as one of the major sources of information on settlement and social organisation of the Iron Age and Roman periods in south west England. The field system indicates the extensive use of the area through time for agriculture and will retain elements relating to changes in the practices through time. The whole archaeological landscape complex is of great importance because of the close association of the hillfort, rounds field system and other features which indicate the changing nature of agricultural practices and strategic nature of the hill through time.


The monument includes a multi-period landscape, situated on the prominent Tregonning Hill, one of two hills with outcropping granite in this area. The landscape includes a small multivallate hillfort called 'Castle Pencair'; barrows; two rounds; a field system; an 18th century watch house; extensive mineral working and prospecting pits; and part of a china clay works notable for being the place where William Cookworthy discovered china clay. The small multivallate hillfort survives as an oval enclosure defined by concentric double ramparts standing up to 6m high with ditches up to 0.6m deep, partly cut by later mining activity. There is an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar and a war memorial within the enclosed area. Aerial photographs indicate potential internal structures and hut circles and a possible in-turned entrance. It was first described by Thomas in 1851 and mentioned by many other antiquarians who also noted it was traditionally 'the home of giants'. The north eastern round survives as an oval enclosed area measuring approximately 86m long by 76m wide defined by a single rampart of up to 2.6m high and outer ditch of 2.4m deep. The south eastern round is also oval in shape and measures approximately 90m long by 80m wide. It is defined by a single rampart of up to 2.6m high and a ditch of 1.5m deep. The interior contains the remains of at least two stone hut circles attached to the outer bank on the north west, and surface undulations suggest further features ranged around the walls and entrances. The area between the hillfort and rounds contains an extensive field system defined by low stony banks and field clearance cairns thought to be of prehistoric date and thus contemporary with the hillfort and rounds. Individual fields contain ridge and furrow from cultivation which suggests re-use as medieval strip fields. The war memorial within Castle Pencair is Listed Grade II (504699) and is excluded from the scheduling.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-426044, 425993, 425996, and 424956


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

Legacy System number:
CO 1073
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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].