Multiple enclosure fort 320m north of Engelly


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020177

Date first listed: 11-Feb-2002


Ordnance survey map of Multiple enclosure fort 320m north of Engelly
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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

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Allen

National Grid Reference: SW 80482 52704


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

Reasons for Designation

Multiple enclosure forts comprise an inner and one or more outer enclosed areas, together measuring up to c.10ha, and defined by sub-circular or sub- rectangular earthworks spaced at intervals which exceed 15m; the inner enclosure is usually entirely surrounded by a bank and ditch. The forts date mainly to the Late Iron Age (350 BC-c.AD 50) and in England usually occur in the south west. Most are sited on hillslopes overlooked by higher ground near a water supply, and many were apparently used for periods of up to 250 years. The outer enclosures of the forts are usually interpreted as areas set aside for the containment of livestock, whilst the inner enclosures are generally thought to have been the focus of occupation. The earthworks usually include a bank with an outer V-shaped ditch 1m-3m deep. Entrances are generally single gaps through each line of defence, often aligned to create a passage from the outer to the inner enclosure, although there are a few examples where entrances through successive earthworks are not in alignment. Occasionally the interval between the gaps is marked by inturned ramparts or low banks and ditches, while the outer entrance may be screened by a short length of earthwork. Excavations within the inner enclosures have revealed a range of buildings and structures, including circular structures, hearths, ovens and cobbled surfaces as well as occasional small pits and large depressions which may have functioned as watering holes. Multiple enclosure forts are relatively rare with only around 75 examples recorded in England, mostly in Devon and Cornwall. Outside these counties their distribution becomes increasingly scattered and the form and construction methods more varied. They are important for the study of settlement and stock management in the later prehistoric period, and most well-preserved examples will be identified as being of national importance.

The multiple enclosure fort 320m north of Engelly survives well. Despite some reduction and modification of the enclosing banks and ditches, it remains substantially intact. The old land surface underlying the upstanding earthworks, and remains of buildings, structures and other deposits associated with these, will survive. The historical association with a medieval plain an gwarry illustrates one form of reuse of this monument type.


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


The scheduling includes a later prehistoric multiple enclosure fort, with evidence for reuse as a medieval plain an gwarry or playing place, situated on a slight slope on the south west shoulder of a ridge north of Zelah. The overall ground plan of the site, shown by the detailed mapping of aerial photographic evidence, is irregular, measuring up to 150m north west-south east and 110m south west-north east. It contains the ovoid fort, up to approximately 120m north west-south east by 100m north east-south west, with a sub-rectangular inner enclosure, and a surrounding outer enclosure; features adjoining the fort on the north east and south east sides are considered to form parts of an associated outwork and field boundary respectively. The fort's inner enclosure measures approximately 70m WSW-ENE by 45m NNW-SSE. It has a rampart of earth and stone, upstanding on the south and west sides where it is modified to form part of a modern field boundary bank, with traces of an external ditch some 5m wide and up to 0.5m deep at the south west corner. The aerial photographs show a buried ditch continuing around the enclosure, with a gap on the north east side representing an entrance and a pit-like feature in the interior towards the north. The outer area of the fort is enclosed by double ramparts with external ditches. The innermost of these ramparts is visible around the north and east sides, in the form of a bank of earth and stone approximately 14m wide and up to 0.4m high. Aerial photographs show a buried ditch outside this bank and continuing beyond it. They also show segments of the outermost of the double earthworks which, by analogy with similar sites, will continue around the outer enclosure. A gap in the earthworks on the north east side is an original entrance, aligned with the inner entrance noted above. The area within this enclosure is approximately 10m-40m wide between its defences and those of the inner enclosure. The aerial photographs provide evidence of a ditch forming an angular outwork or part of an annexe extending north from the west side of the outer entrance on the north east side of the fort. It also shows a bank running south east from the outer enclosure on the south east side, thought to be a 19th century field boundary, now removed. This feature appears on the St Allen tithe map of 1840. An early 17th century document gives the name Plyn en Gwear for the fort, apparently a variant of the Cornish term plain an gwarry, or medieval playing place, a circular embanked arena for miracle plays. It is therefore considered that the fort's inner enclosure was reused in this way. All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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: 32948

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Padel, O J, Cornish placename elements, (1985), 186,114
Dyer, CA, Cornwall Mapping Programme, (1999)
Dyer, CA, Cornwall Mapping Programme, (1999)
Letters 40, 43, Thomas, R, Letter to the West Briton, (1850)
MS at RIC library, Truro, Henderson, C, Topography of Penwith, Topography of Penwith, (1920)
SW 85 SW 25, King, AN, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1970)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map Source Date: 1880 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map Source Date: 1908 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Ordnance Survey 2" drawing Source Date: 1810 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Perranzabuloe Tithe Apportionment Source Date: 1840 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 171
Title: St Allen Tithe Apportionment Source Date: 1840 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 267, 268

End of official listing