Liveloe, later prehistoric cliff castle with hut circles on Griffin's Point, and prehistoric round barrow 600m south west of Bre-Pen Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1021004
Date first listed: 20-Jan-1953
Date of most recent amendment: 15-Jul-2003
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SW 84173 66478, SW 84331 66480
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Cliff castles are coastal promontories adapted as enclosures and fortified on
the landward side by the construction of one or more ramparts accompanied by
ditches. On the seaward side the precipitous cliffs of the promontory provided
a natural defence, only rarely reinforced by man-made features. Cliff castles
date to the Iron Age, most being constructed and used between the second
century BC and the first century AD, although some were reused in the medieval
period. They are usually interpreted as high status defensive enclosures,
related to the broadly contemporary classes of hillfort.
The inner area enclosed at cliff castles varies with the size and shape of the
promontory; they are generally in the range 0.5ha to 3ha, but a few much
larger examples are known, enclosing up to 52ha. The area of many cliff
castles will have been reduced by subsequent coastal erosion. The ramparts are
of earth and rubble, occasionally with a drystone revetment wall along their
outer face. Ditches may be rock- or earth-cut depending on the depth of the
subsoil. The number and arrangement of ramparts and ditches varies
considerably and may include outworks enclosing large areas beyond the
promontory and annexes defining discrete enclosures against the landward side
of the defences. Multiple ramparts may be close spaced or may include a broad
gap between concentric ramparts defining inner and outer enclosures. Entrance
gaps through the defences are usually single and often staggered where they
pass through multiple ramparts.
Internal features, where visible, include circular or sub-rectangular levelled
platforms for stone or timber houses, generally behind the inner bank or
sheltered by the promontory hill. Where excavated, cliff castles have been
found to contain post holes and stakeholes, hearths, pits and gullies
associated with the house platforms, together with spreads of occupation
debris including, as evidence for trade and industrial activity, imported
pottery and iron working slag. Cliff castles are largely distributed along the
more indented coastline of western Britain; in England they are generally
restricted to the coasts of north Devon and Cornwall. Around sixty cliff
castles are recorded nationally, of which forty are located around the Cornish
Cliff castles contribute to our understanding of how society and the landscape
was organised during the Iron Age and illustrate the influence of landscape
features on the chosen locations for prestigious settlement, trade and
industry. All cliff castles with significant surviving archaeological remains
are considered worthy of preservation.
Despite limited modification of its enclosing earthworks Liveloe cliff castle on Griffin's Point survives well. The earlier underlying land surface, and remains of any structures or other deposits associated with this and the upstanding earthworks and ditches, will also survive. The varied forms of the ramparts and ditches illustrate well the complexity of monuments of this type, and their adaptation to location. The choice of a distinctive though exposed and precipitous headland, its isolation and elevation emphasised visually by the valley surrounding its landward side, provides a good example of the importance of topography in the siting of cliff castles. The association with a prominent round barrow indicates that topography was already a central factor in the organisation of Bronze Age ritual activity.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The scheduling includes a later prehistoric cliff castle known as Liveloe
containing hut circles and a prehistoric round barrow, which lie in two
separate areas of protection. These are situated repectively on Griffin's
Point, a promontory projecting west into the Atlantic north of Watergate
Bay, with a stream valley almost surrounding its landward (eastern) side;
and on the north west shoulder of a coastal ridge east of the stream, 600m
south west of Bre-Pen Farm. Also within the scheduling are medieval or
later extractive pits and trackways, and remains of metal mining, all on
Liveloe cliff castle is irregular in plan, reflecting the topography and
indented course of the coastline bounding it around the south and west. It
measures approximately 170m north west-south east by 140m north east-south
west. On its landward (north east) side the cliff castle is enclosed by
multiple ramparts with external ditches. Two ramparts are visible around
almost the whole of the landward side (the outer one merges with the
natural slope before the cliff top on the north). They are concentric on
the north east, but diverge towards the south, so that they are some 15m
apart. Between these is a slight counterscarp bank thrown up in digging
the inner ditch, with a linear hollow outside it associated with the
formation of the outer rampart. On the north east side, a further rampart
and ditch extend down slope from the outer concentric rampart to a natural
rock outcrop above the stream. West of this, the outer concentric rampart
and the counterscarp within merge together, these then merge into the
natural slope (the inner rampart continues to the cliff edge on the north
The ramparts are in the region of 5m wide, and are up to approximately
3.5m high outside and 0.9m high within. Towards the north, they are
largely formed by cutting into the natural slope. The external ditches are
3m-5m wide; they are mostly visible as slightly concave shelves, or
depressions up to 0.3m deep, but are up to 1.5m deep in places, notably on
a 25m long section of the inner ditch north of the entrance, towards the
south of the cliff castle. This variety in the form of the enclosing works
suggests that they are unfinished.
The entrance to the cliff castle is visible as a gap in the enclosing
earthworks on the south east side, towards the cliff edge. It is
well-defined where it passes through the inner earthwork, running across
the ditch on a causeway 3m wide. The interior of the castle includes a
fairly level area inside the entrance. Beyond this are moderate slopes
running down to the cliffs on the north and west sides. Some ground will
have been lost to the sea, particularly to the south where the cliffs are
high, exposed, and precipitous.
The three hut circles lie in the south eastern part of the castle's
interior, one behind the inner rampart just north of the entrance, and a
neighbouring pair west of this, on the shoulder of the more level ground.
They are visible as sub-circular or oval platforms measuring approximately
8m across, and 0.8m-1.3m deep on their eastern sides where they are cut
into the ground behind. The platform north of the entrance has a slight
bank 2m wide around its western side, possibly remains of a front wall.
On the cliff edge immediately east of the south end of the cliff castle's
outer ditch, above Stem Cove, is an oval mound measuring approximately
8.2m east-west by 5.3m north-south, projecting from the slope to a height
of 1.3m on the inland (east) side. It incorporates outcropping bedrock on
its seaward (south) side. This may be an outer earthwork protecting the
entrance to the cliff castle, and so is specifically retained within the
scheduling. A possible early rampart runs for some 10m along the top of
the very steep, high cliff on the south of Griffin's Point, 2m-3m from the
cliff edge. This is a slight bank, around 2m wide, and 0.2m high on the
north, 0.1m high on the south. It appears to be cut at either end by the
southern ends of the cliff castle's concentric enclosing earthworks.
Of the extractive pits in the scheduling, one is located on the line of a
scarp-like rampart on the most westerly point of the cliff castle, close
to the cliff edge. Two smaller pits are sited inland of this, and another
is cut into the outside of the outer concentric rampart, north east of its
centre. All are flat-bottomed scoops measuring from 6m to 20m along the
contour and 5m to 10m into the slope, and 1.3m-3m deep. Several have
visible cut rock faces. The pits were dug to obtain the slate bedrock, for
use in buildings or hedge banks, in historic times. They are associated
with further quarries beyond the scheduling.
A trackway 1m-2m wide, terraced slightly into the slope, links the
extractive pits on the north west side. The west end of another, similar
trackway lies within the protective margin to the north east of the cliff
castle. This track runs ESE from here. It would have connected a small
quarry on its west side with the valley below.
Remains of a gunnis or open work are visible towards the bottom of the
steep, high cliff north of Stem Cove, beneath the cliff castle. This is
thought to be the result of post-medieval lead mining.
Beyond Griffin's Point, in the second area of protection, lies a round
barrow on the adjoining ridge. It has a mound of earth and stone measuring
12m in diameter and up to 0.6m high on the downhill (north west) side.
There is no evidence of a ditch surrounding the mound.
The modern timber steps 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: 32974
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Dines, H G, 'The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England' in The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England, , Vol. 1, (1956), 437
Hamilton Jenkin, AK, 'Padstow, St Columb and Bodmin' in Mines and Miners of Cornwall, , Vol. 9, (1964), 8
McLauchlan, H, 'Annual Report of the Royal Institution of Cornwall' in Observations in some ancient camps and tumuli, , Vol. 29, (1848), 30-41
Kirkham, G to Parkes, C, (2002)
SW 84 NW 4, Fletcher, MJ, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1969)
SW 86 NW 4, Fletcher, MJ, Ordnance Survey Index Card, (1969)
Title: Cornwall Mapping Project Source Date: 1995 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Mawgan-in-Pydar tithe apportionment Source Date: 1840 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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: St Mawgan Tithe Apportionment Source Date: 1841 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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