Largin Castle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
OS Grid Reference SX1689664541


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
OS Grid Reference SX1689664541
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A multivallate hillfort of probable Iron Age date, located within Largin Wood.

Reasons for Designation

Largin Castle, which was probably constructed during the Iron Age, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: it survives well, despite some disturbance by tree roots and medieval or post-medieval modification; * Rarity: although multivallate hillforts are not uncommon in Cornwall, the size and survival of Largin Castle is of importance in understanding the transition between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities; * Potential: having been subject to no archaeological interventions, it will retain evidence for the date and method of its construction as well as the lives of its inhabitants, contributing to our knowledge and understanding of the area during the prehistoric period.


Largin Castle is a large multivallate hillfort which was constructed during the Iron Age. Large multivallate hillforts are defined as an enclosure of a large area of a hilltop, hill-slope or spur, dating to the Iron Age period (900 -100 BC). It is likely that hillforts in general had multitudinous functions, but the building of massive ramparts and ditches implies that a defensive imperative was one of the prime motives. Typically hillforts occupy a position on the edge of high ground, overlooking a plain or vale below. Their shape conforms to the topography, and most have one or two entrances; one almost always faces east, and where there is a second it faces west – this is assumed to be symbolic rather than based on a defensive principle. Some hillforts, but not all, have evidence of occupation in their interiors, often in the form of oval or circular houses. Many hillforts were abandoned around 400 BC, but those that remained were often enlarged, with additional ramparts and outworks – these multivallate forts are known as developed hillforts, and often retain extensive evidence of long-term occupation. Additional evidence, in the form of artefacts, suggests that industrial activity such as bronze- and iron-working as well as pottery manufacture occurred on many sites. There are more than 3000 hillforts across the British Isles, and large examples can be found in Wessex, along the Welsh Marches and the south-east. Smaller examples are found in Northumberland. Where they are found in coastal locations they are known as ‘cliff castles’ and these are numerous in the south-west.

Largin Castle is first shown on the 1837 Tithe map within Largin Wood as a sparsely-wooded earthwork, marked by embankments on its south side. It is first clearly shown on the first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1882 (1:2500), which shows three clear parts: Largin Castle; wooded outworks to the south, possibly Iron Age cross-ridge dykes; and further entrenchments or dykes, possibly Civil War entrenchments, outside the woods – the latter are not included in this scheduling. A medieval pillow mound within the interior of the hillfort is also recorded on the Historic Environment Record. The construction of the Great Western Railway through Cornwall in the mid-C19 cut close to the north-west corner of the hillfort. In March 1975 a Bronze Age Trevisker-type urn was found within a burial pit, approximately 16m south of the southern edge of the hillfort within a forestry cutting. The urn was within a burial pit found halfway up a steep hillside, and it was determined that it had not moved from where it had originally been buried. The surrounding area was immediately excavated by Cornwall Archaeological Society (report unsourced; reported in CAS Journal, 1976).


SUMMARY OF ASSET A multivallate hillfort of probable Iron Age date, located within Largin Wood.

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS Located on a steep-sided promontory overlooking the Glynn Valley, is a multivallate Iron Age hillfort known as Largin Castle. A probable medieval pillow mound is also recorded.

DESCRIPTION Largin Castle is a large multivallate earthwork fort dating to the Iron Age period (2000 BC - AD 500), built on a hill-spur overlooking the Glynn Valley, to the north. The hillfort has a system of well-preserved triple ramparts and ditches, surrounding an oval central enclosure approximately 105m by 70m. The inner pair of defences have ramparts up to 2.8m high and are concentric, pierced by a south-facing inturned entrance. The outer rampart, which reaches a height of 3.5m, is surrounded by a ditch that is counterscarped on the north side of the fort. The rampart bulges to form a southern annexe to the fort. This has two entrances: one facing south-east, the other south-west. On the north side of the interior is a possible pillow mound, 14m long. There is also evidence of a trackway, possibly medieval, running through the earthwork suggesting that it was used for cultivation during that period. There are striking views from the fort, particularly looking to the north.

The extent of Largin Castle hillfort is determined by its outer defences.

EXCLUSIONS All modern fencing and gates and modern track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground below them is included.


Books and journals
Miles, D, The Romano-British Countryside, (1982), 103
Trudgian, P, Apsimon, AM, 'A Trevisker series Bronze Age urn from Largin Wood, Broadoak' in Cornish Archaeology, , Vol. 15, (1976), 112-114
Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland , accessed 31/01/2020 from
Heritage Gateway: Cornwall & Scilly HER – Largin Castle-Iron Age Hillfort, HER ref: 6619, accessed 31/01/2020 from
Heritage Gateway: Cornwall & Scilly HER – Largin Castle-Medieval Pillow Mound, HER ref: 6619.01 , accessed 31/01/2020 from
Heritage Gateway: Cornwall & Scilly HER – Largin Wood-Bronze Age burial, HER ref: 6639 , accessed 31/01/2020 from
Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service - Power and Authority (no longer available online)
Ordnance Survey, Cornwall (1882) (1:2500)

Ordnance Survey, Cornwall (1907) (1:2500)
Tithe Map and Apportionment of Braddock Parish (1837)
West England Forest District: Management Plan for Largin Castle (2018)


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

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