Polwhele Castle: a round with hut circle and field system 160m south west of Higher Tregurra


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020800

Date first listed: 03-Sep-2002


Ordnance survey map of Polwhele Castle: a round with hut circle and field system 160m south west of Higher Tregurra
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Clement

National Grid Reference: SW 83680 46311


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.

Despite modification by ploughing of the earthworks enclosing the round and defining the associated fields, the round and field system 160m south west of Higher Tregurra survive fairly well. The underlying old land surface, and remains of any structures or other deposits associated with this and with the upstanding earthworks and ditches, will also survive. The presence of several lines of enclosing earthworks around part of the round is unusual and indicates variety and complexity in the form of this class of monument. The evidence for firing in kilns outside the round as well as occupation within it may contribute to our understanding of settlements of this type. The relationship with a field system will contribute to our understanding of farming in this region in the later prehistoric to Roman periods.


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


The scheduling includes a round of the later prehistoric to Roman period known as Polwhele Castle, with a hut circle and the known extent of an associated field system, situated on a slight east slope near the top of a hill north of Truro. Within the scheduling are also settlement-related features including a possible kiln.

The round, on the north east side of the scheduling, is oval in plan, measuring approximately 85m north east-south west by 67.5m north west-south east externally. It has a rampart of earth and stone, modified by ploughing, visible on the ground as a bank around 11m wide, 0.3m high on the outside, and 0.1m high inside. The rampart is surrounded by a ditch some 3.5m wide, now buried, shown on aerial photographs and a geophysical survey. The geophysical survey also provided evidence of one or two other lines of rampart and ditch, now levelled, around the north east side of the enclosure, inside and concentric with the upstanding bank. This survey also records a buried ditch defining a sub-circular feature some 17.5m across externally within the round on the north east, thought to be a hut circle contemporary with it. The field system, surrounding Polwhele Castle on the north west and south east sides, is represented by intersecting buried linear ditches on the geophysical survey, and is also partially visible on the ground as slight stony banks up to 9m wide. The field system is also considered to date from later prehistoric or Roman times. A buried sub-circular structure within the field system, on the south side of the scheduling, is again shown by the geophysical survey. This measures some 3.5m across and is thought to represent a large kiln. Smaller pit-like buried features are also recorded in its vicinity. The possible kiln and pits are also thought to be contemporary with the round. The modern fencing, gate, and gate fittings, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 32968

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Henderson, C, 'The West Briton' in Article in the West Briton, (1928)
Mc'Lauchlan, H, 'Annual Report of the Royal Institution of Cornwall' in Notes on the Manors of Tewington, Moresk, and Tywarnhaile, , Vol. 29, (1848), 22-24
Sparvel-Bayly, J A, 'The Western Antiquary' in Some Cornish Castles, , Vol. 10, (1890), 56
AM Lab Report 175/88, Linford, P and D Shiel, Polwhele Castle, report on geophysical survey, 1988, (1988)
Dyer, C, Cornwall Mapping Project, (1999)
EH AM Lab report 175/88, Linford, P and D Shiel, Polwhele Castle, report on geophysical survey, 1988, (1988)
Letter in CAU information file, Linford, P, Polwhele Castle Magnetometer Survey, (1987)
PRN 25308, Hartgroves, S, Cornwall SMR, (1987)
Reid, S, Exeter Archaeology, to C Parkes, (2002)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map Source Date: 1880 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: St Clement Tithe Apportionment Map Source Date: 1842 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 726

End of official listing