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.
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.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.