Cornish Promontory Forts


    INTEREST in the promontory forts of Cornwall has been much stimulated by the results of Dr. Mortimer Wheeler's excavations in Brittany. One of them, the large and evidently important fort of Trevelgue Head and Porth Island, Newquay, has been under excavation since July 3. Its investigation is being carried on under the direction of Mr. C. K. Croft Andrew on behalf of the Cornwall Excavations Committee. Excavation is still in progress, though much hampered through lack of funds; but the finds reported to date (The Times, Aug. 15), ranging from Neolithic to Early Iron Ago, fully bear out anticipation of the importance of the site, based partly on its superficial resemblance to Hengistbury Head, Hampshire, partly on the imposing character of its septuple line of defences. The main defences are now assigned to the third century B.C., when there supervened an occupation rich in artistic and metallurgical attainments. The pottery is akin to that of Glastonbury Lake Village, displaying curvilinear and lenticular decoration, as well as naturalistic leaf and vegetable forms. It would appear that in order that the outermost defences should include a native iron mine, they were given an eccentric form. At the back of the sixth, the innermost, rampart was banked the refuse of a considerable Iron Ago town. This consisted of houses, or large huts, arranged terrace-wise on the slope rising from the back of the sixth bank to the apex of the island. The best example of a house cleared as yet was occupied from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 100. It is nearly circular and 46 ft. across, the upper sector being sunk two feet deep in the soft slate rock. It shows some fine examples of dry-walling. The wall was probably never more than 4 ft. or 5 ft. high, but it was 6 ft. thick. The roof ran up from eaves which were supported on a ring of external posts, while the span, being too great for early carpenters, was supported by rings of inner posts.

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    Cornish Promontory Forts. Nature 144, 361 (1939).

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