A prehistoric round known as Caer Kief


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016989

Date first listed: 18-Oct-1950

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Sep-1999


Ordnance survey map of A prehistoric round known as Caer Kief
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Perranzabuloe

National Grid Reference: SW 78248 52507


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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. Some rounds are associated with secondary enclosures, either abutting the round as an annexe or forming an additional enclosure. 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, where many more examples may await discovery. 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. Consequently, sites with significant surviving remains will normally be considered to be of national importance.

Although a small part of its ditch on the eastern side has been lost to cultivation, the round of Caer Kief survives particularly well with a near complete circuit of defences. The monument stands in close proximity to another prehistoric enclosure of a different type, the multiple enclosure fort at Caer Dane. Taken together, the two monuments indicate a focus of prehistoric and later activity in the area. Caer Kief will contain archaeological information relating to the construction and use of the site, the lives of its inhabitants, and the landscape in which they lived.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Caer Kief, a late prehistoric round in the form of a roughly square defended enclosure of about 1.4ha defined by a single rampart and ditch and having a single entrance. It is located just below the summit of a west facing spur which lies between two arms of the Perranporth stream and it sits across the valley to the north east from another prehistoric site known as Caer Dane. The inner sub-square area is a maximum 120m east-west by 125m north-south and occupies an area of level ground which drops away on all sides but the east where slightly higher ground provided the only reasonable and gentle approach. The defences survive in a near complete circuit and comprise of a stone and earth built bank 1.2m high and 4.2m wide fronted by a ditch which averages 4m in width. The ditch, although partly infilled over the course of many centuries, retains an average depth of about 0.6m around most of the circuit except on the east where it has been partly lost to cultivation. A single entrance on the east side, about 4m wide, is considered to be original but a larger gap through the rampart on its northern side and an inner ditch in the north east corner may be relatively modern. Caer Kief is first recorded in 1322 as Kerkyf, which is Cornish, and contains the place-name elements `ker' (fort) and `kyf' (stump). The bank of a suspected annexe of Caer Kief on its eastern side has long been known and is shown on early Ordnance Survey maps extending from the north eastern corner but without any indication of a return to complete the enclosure. There is no indication of a ditch associated with the bank and its purpose is obscure. Although it may have been an unfinished prehistoric earthwork, there is no certainty that it was contemporary with the first use of Caer Kief. Nothing now remains visible of this bank above ground other than a small section, much reduced by cultivation, lying some 200m to the east of the defences; this earthwork does not form part of the scheduling. All fencing, gates, and gateposts 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.


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

Legacy System number: 29685

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Cornwall, (1906), 462
Gover, J E B, The Place-Names of Cornwall, (1948), 375
Padel, O J, Cornish placename elements, (1985), 50, 58
Warner, R, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Parish of Perranzabuloe, , Vol. 2, (1963), 69
Fletcher, M J, Ordnance Survey Field Investigation, (1971)
Title: Ordnance Survey Source Date: 1813 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing