Golden Camp hillfort


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Golden Camp hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. 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.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 92454 46853

Reasons for Designation

Large univallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying shape, ranging in size between 1ha and 10ha, located on hilltops and surrounded by a single boundary comprising earthworks of massive proportions. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been constructed and used between the fourth century BC and the first century AD, although evidence for earlier use is present at most sites. The size of the earthworks reflects the ability of certain social groups to mobilise the labour necessary for works on such a monumental scale, and their function may have had as much to do with display as defence. Large univallate hillforts are also seen as centres of redistribution, both for subsistence products and items produced by craftsmen. The ramparts are of massive proportions except in locations where steepness of slope precludes easy access. They can vary between 6m and 20m wide and may survive to a height of 6m. The ditches can measure between 6m and 13m wide and between 3m and 5m deep. Access to the interior is generally provided by one or two entrances which often take the form of long passages formed by inturned ramparts and originally closed by a gate located towards the inner end of the passageway. The entrance may be flanked by guardrooms and/or accompanied by outworks. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Large univallate hillforts are rare with between 50 and 100 examples recorded nationally. Most are located within southern England where they occur on the chalklands of Wessex, Sussex and Kent. The western edge of the distribution is marked by scattered examples in north Somerset and east Devon, while further examples occur in central and western England and outliers further north. Within this distribution considerable regional variation is apparent, both in their size, rampart structure and the presence or absence of individual components. In view of the rarity of large univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the organisation and regional structure of Iron Age society, all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The large univallate hillfort of Golden Camp has good preservation and survival of the greater part of its defensive circuit despite some reduction due to cultivation on its southern side. It will contain archaeological information relating to the construction and use of the site, the lives of the inhabitants, and the landscape in which they lived. Golden Camp is at the very extreme western range of this class of monument and is one of only a small number of examples in Cornwall. It is also unusual in being referred to in the medieval period, sources suggesting a later use for the monument long after it ceased to function as a prehistoric site.


The monument includes a prehistoric large univallate hillfort known as Golden Camp, located on a south facing slope at the eastern end of a spur which overlooks the west bank of the River Fal. The defences enclose an irregular pear-shaped area of about 3.4ha which tapers to a blunted point at its eastern end; the wider and squarer western end has what is considered to be an original entrance through the defences. The interior of the hillfort has maximum dimensions of 290m east-west by 160m north-south and is defended by a single rampart and ditch which is well preserved over much of its circuit. The rampart, which is flat topped, has a considerable inner and outer scarp; it has an average height of 1.5m and achieves an average width of 10m where it survives best on the north and west sides, the southern side having been reduced by cultivation. The rampart is fronted by a `U'-shaped ditch which is on average 1.8m deep and 4.7m wide, but is wider and somewhat deeper along the western side where the ground is flatter; elsewhere it has been filled by cultivation. Several cuts through the rampart at various points on its circuit are considered to be relatively modern but a 10m wide causeway on the western side, where the ditch terminals inturn slightly, probably marks the site of the original entrance; this gap also has the advantage of facing the only reasonably level approach. Golden Camp is considered to have been occupied in the Iron Age but it is unclear whether this occupation would have continued after the establishment of the late pre-Roman Iron Age and Romano-British site at Carvossa some 1.5km to the north west. The monument may have been utilised for some unknown defensive function as late as the medieval period as it is mentioned in land deeds of the 12th and 13th century where it is described as a `small castle'.

All fencing and fence posts, gates and gate posts, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Cornwall, (1906), 467-69
Borlase, W, Antiquities of Cornwall, (1769), 313
Gilbert, D, 'Parochial History of Cornwall' in , , Vol. III, (1838), 365-67
Henderson, C, 'Journal of the Royal Institute of Cornwall' in Ecclesiastical Antiquities, , Vol. 3.4, (1960), 419


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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