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The inhabitants of Britain who dwell about the promontory known as Belerium (modern Cornwall) are especially hospitable to strangers and have adopted a civilized manner of life because of their intercourse with merchants of other peoples. They it is who work the tin, treating the bed which bears it in an ingenious manner. This bed, being like rock, contains earthy seams and in them the workers quarry the ore, which they then melt down and cleanse of its impurities. Then they work the tin into pieces the size of knuckle-bones and convey it to an island which lies off Britain and is called Ictis (St. Michael’s Mount): for at the time of ebb-tide the space between this island and the mainland becomes dry and they can take the tin in large quantities over to the island on their wagons.

Diodorus Siculus 90 B.C. – A.D. 30; Library of History, Book V, 22

Restormel takes its name from the Cornish words ‘ros tor moyl’ translating as ‘bare hilltop spur’.

The earliest known occupation at Restormel, just outside Lostwithiel in Cornwall, was a Roman fort, the banks and ditches of which can still be seen on the hill to the south west of the later castle.

The Roman fort at Restormel surviving as a rectangular earthwork. Photo courtesy of Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service.

The Roman fort was occupied between the first and fourth centuries AD housing around 160 individuals. The structure was rectangular in plan, measuring around 60 metres by 70 metres, with opposed entrances on its sides. Surrounding the enclosure were two banks and ditches whereas a similar fort at Nanstallon, west of Bodmin, had only one.

A geophysical survey at Restormel has revealed only traces of internal buildings and their layout is not yet known. Other Roman forts in Cornwall have been investigated at nearby Nanstallon overlooking the River Camel and at Calstock above the Tamar valley. All three forts were sited at the tidal limits of their rivers and were probably intended to secure trade routes into Cornwall and access its valuable mineral resources.

Roman remains are uncommon west of Exeter, in what is currently Devon, and it is believed that the Romans never had a substantial presence in the region.

With thanks as ever to Myghal Map Serpren.

A message from John Adams OBE, Chair of the Stonehenge Alliance:

An impressive 1,200+ responses to the redetermination consultation were forwarded to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and published by the Planning Inspectorate last week, including responses of those not registered as Interested Parties.  A huge thank you to all who managed to send in their comments.  These are being analysed by one of our volunteers but it looks as if objectors, NGOs and Stonehenge specialists have stood firm with their resolve strengthened.  

The Stonehenge Alliance submitted a raft of new documents which shows that the case for the scheme is even weaker than it was at the Public Examination in 2019.  We highlighted that the economic case for the tunnel, already in the red, is now far worse with rising construction costs and a heritage valuation survey that is no longer valid.  We also rebut National Highways’ assessment of alternatives, which is not fit for purpose as it failed to acknowledge the Examining Authority’s and Grant Shapps’ opinion that the road scheme would cause significant harm to the World Heritage Site.

Tom Holland, our President, said: “There is only one sane outcome to this process and that is for Grant Shapps to refuse permission for this highly damaging road scheme. Even though UNESCO has threatened to place the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger if the road goes ahead as planned, National Highways remains in complete denial about the impact of its plans for the Stonehenge landscape.  This Government-owned company is increasingly clutching at straws in its attempts to justify the desecration of our most iconic World Heritage Site.  

“If Grant Shapps refuses to take the sensible course and tell National Highways to go away and come back with something better, then at the very least he should hold a new public examination. The amount of technical information involved is far too great for the Secretary of State to make a new decision without first obtaining the expert advice of a team of independent planning inspectors.”

Updated response to the Statement of Matters on carbon 

Some of you might have received a further invitation to comment on National Highways’ updated response on carbon by 10 June.  This is a technical paper which the Alliance plans to comment on.  We will endeavour to circulate some key points in due course. 

ABOUT THE STONEHENGE ALLIANCE

The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and opposes development that would cause it significant harm.  More about us 

The petition against the road is at almost 220,000 signatures.  You can sign and share here.

We continue our trip around some Cornish hamlets with a visit to Tregeare in the parish of Egloskerry.

Tregeare was recorded in 1416 as ‘’Tregayr’ translating from the Cornish language ‘tre ger’ meaning ‘farm by a fort’. From this, we can conclude that the name probably derives from the hillslope enclosure to the north of the farmstead at Tregeare Rounds.

Tregeare Rounds, once recorded as ‘Dameliock Castle’ with this being a false name, was excavated in 1902 by S Baring-Gould.

This excavation suggested that human occupation was restricted to the area between the two main ramparts where finds consisted mainly of slingstones, perforated stones, spindle whorls and pre-Roman pottery.

The terminals of the innermost bank are raised up, presumably providing vantage points for those overseeing the herding of cattle in the centre of the fort. This seems to have been the purpose for which these hillslope forts were designed, probably dating from the second and first century BC.

Tregeare Rounds was surveyed by the Ordnance Survey in 1976 and comprises two sub-circular univallate and concentric enclosures totalling six and three-quarter acres, and on the eastern side, a five feet high scarp forming a curvilinear outwork encompassing a further three and a quarter acres.

The inner enclosure, of 295 feet internal diameter has a bank which averages six foot six inches high and a pitch up to six feet deep, with an overall width of just over 39 feet.

The outer enclosure of 558 feet internal diameter is much stronger; its rampart averages 10 feet high, the ditch six feet deep and the overall width exceeds 65 feet.

In the southeast a sunken way across the interspace of the outwork leads to simple entrances through the main and inner ramparts though in each case a low scarp extends across the gap. The relationship of this sunken way to the outwork is uncertain and complicated by the construction of a field bank.

In the north the outer ditch incorporates one shallow causeway which may be the result of ‘gangwork’; other interruptions appear to have occurred through agricultural activity and the 1902 excavations.

A Cornish ‘hull’ is excavated into the side of one of the outer ramparts of Tregeare Rounds. This is described as an “adit 51ft long 5ft wide and 6ft high”, with soil from the excavation placed some distance away.

Cornish historian Michael Tangye describes hulls being used for underground storage of potatoes, cheese and other foodstuffs.

At one time Tregeare Rounds became associated with Arthurian legends:

The Arthurian associations of Castle Killibury stem from attempts to discover the location of Kelli wic, the name given in both Culhwch ac Olwen and Trioedd Ynys Prydein to Arthur’s residence in Cornwall. In 1900 Castle Killibury was suggested as Kelli wic for three main reasons: firstly that a hill-fort would be the most appropriate identification; secondly that the names Kelli wic and Killibury are similar; and thirdly because it was near Tregeare Rounds. This last argument is the one that tipped the balance in favour of this site, when the name alone gave it no better case to be Kelli wic than, say, Callington and Calliwith. This argument is, however, false.

See http://www.arthuriana.co.uk/n&q/artharch.htm

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

Trencrom Hill in West Penwith, Cornwall was recorded as ‘Torcrobm’ in 1758 from the Cornish ‘tor crom’ (in later Cornish ‘crobm’ because as in all other languages, evolution of a tongue occurs) meaning ‘hunched bulge’ with tor meaning quite literally ‘belly’. Learn more about the Cornish language, Kernewek here.

Finds of Neolithic axes on the slopes of the hill indicate that the hilltop was occupied during that era and it may be that the massive wall surrounding the flattish summit originated then, to be reused and strengthened during the Iron Age. This wall is up to 2.5 metres high on its external side and makes full use of the many natural granite outcrops. The fort is roughly pear-shaped in plan, 137 metres by 91 metres and there is a pair of fine entrances facing east and west with granite gate jambs. Trencrom provides superb coastal views; to the Northeast across the Hayle estuary and up to Godrevy Point, and to the South across Mounts Bay and St Michael’s Mount.

A number of circular features can be traced in the interior. Three are Bronze Age cairns and there are six round house platforms in the southern part of the enclosure. Other circular features are prospecting pits. Finds of pottery show Iron Age occupation from the 3rd century BC and that the site was well used well into the post-Roman period perhaps as late as the 8th or 9th century AD.

In folklore, the hill was the lair of Trecobben the giant. Trecobben is best remembered as the friend of Cormoran, who lived on St Michael’s Mount, and whose wife Cormelian he accidentally killed. Another legend speaks of games that they played, throwing rocks across to each other – the Bowl Rock at the northern base on Trencrom being one such rock that missed its target and rolled away.  

Various attempts at tin mining have taken place on/under the hill, known as the Wheal Cherry sett, between the mid-1800s and early 1900s. None were particularly successful.

The hill was presented to the National Trust by Lt Col C L Tyringham, of Trevethoe in March 1946, his wish being that it was to be regarded as a memorial to the men and women of Cornwall, who gave their lives in the service of their country during the two world wars, 1914 – 1918, 1939 – 1945. A plaque on the hill commemorates this fact.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

We have not nor ever will change our opinion of the proposed A303 road scheme with its hugely damaging tunnel. Our opinion has remained consistent since this letter (below), nicely summarising the situation, was published in the Daily Telegraph 28 April 2014. We don’t want to lose the free view from the A303, we don’t want the cuttings on either side of the tunnel to remove everything in the road’s path, and we don’t want a flyover landing alongside Blick Mead.

We will continue to resist this damaging Scheme and will lay down in front of the path of the tunnel if it comes to that. All we want is for Unesco to stand firm and not be taken in by late attempts to pretend the Scheme benefits the World Heritage Site. It does not. STAND FIRM UNESCO – BACK US UP PLEASE.

one of the joys of going on the current A303 is that one gets a glimpse of Stonehenge and I think that is a great benefit and it’s uplifting for people to see”

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Living in Cornwall, the sheer amount of prehistoric remains all around never fails to amaze me! Take, for example, the small hamlet of Dowran in the parish of St. Just in Penwith.

Dowran, such as it is, can be seen from the northeastern flightpath into Lands End Airport, and was first recorded in 1245 when it was spelt ‘Doueron’. It lies in the shadow of Bartinney Hill, atop which lies an enclosure containing eight round cairns known as Bartinney Castle.

Image © Google Earth.

The name Dowran is Cornish and is derived from the Cornish language ‘dowr-an’ meaning ‘watering place’.

Many of the fields around the hamlet and farm have their very own unique names, many of them in Cornish, Burrow Field, Hammon Moor, Henas, Croft Leskeys, Radannack, Park Skeber, The Spearn, Stalmac, Strakeshaw amongst others.

The hamlet is surrounded by ancient sites including traces of an Iron Age enclosure, an early Medieval enclosure, and evidence of a Bronze Age barrow and there have been a number of finds of Mesolithic flint tools.

On the image below, from the Cornwall Council Mapping website, the red dots indicate the Prehistoric entries on the Heritage Environment Record. As you can see, for what is relatively empty farmland, there was a lot of activity here in the past!

Image © Cornwall Council

Many fields in Cornwall are named particularly in Penwith and the late P.A.S. Pool wrote a small book on the subject called appropriately, ‘Field names of West Penwith’, published by Agan Tavas and available from their website.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren.

Road improvement works on the A4226 Five Mile Lane near Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan have revealed what was later described as “surprising” and “significant” Roman and Medieval remains.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council contracted-in Rubicon Heritage Services, who conducted an archaeological excavation of three sites resulting in the finds of a Roman mercenary buried with his sword, Iron Age farming tools, ancient burial sites and the remnants of roundhouses.

Bronze Age Burial site at Five Mile Lane © Rubicon Heritage Services

The site has been described as a “ceremonial and funerary landscape in the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, through to farming in the Iron Age and being part of a wealthy Roman farmstead, to a Medieval burial ground which reused the earlier burial mound, and finally to the post-medieval agricultural landscape we see today”.

Roman Villa at Five Mile Lane © Rubicon Heritage Services

Other agencies assisting in the excavation included the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff University, Cadw and the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust.

Following proper analysis, all the artefacts will be placed into safekeeping with the National Museum of Wales.

Medieval Burial at Five Mile Lane © Rubicon Heritage Services

Mark Collard from Rubicon Heritage Services, said: “We’re very pleased to be able now to share the results in such an accessible format with the communities of the area.”

Rubicon Heritage Services’ have produced a fascinating e-book detailing the excavation entitled ‘Guide to the excavations at FIVE MILE LANE – 6,000 Years of Life in the Vale of Glamorgan’. It is available as a free PDF download from the Rubicon Heritage Services website. There is also an explanatory ‘map story’ that can be accessed here.

With thanks to Myghal Map Serpren

A comparatively simple puzzle this month. Yes, it’s a screenshot of a hill figure. But which one?

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the ever-popular Pathways to the Past event held by the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network (CASPN) returns next month.

CASPN Logo

The confirmed timetable for this year’s event is as follows:

Saturday May 28th:

  • 10.00-12.30pm A New Bosiliack Trail Guided Walk, visiting Bosiliack settlement, Lanyon & West Lanyon Quoits.
  • 2.00-5.00pm Where The Spirits Dwell, a guided walk visiting Zennor Quoit, Sperris Quoit and Sperris settlement. (small charge)
  • 7.30-9.00pm Investigating Archaeology & Astronomy at The Hurlers, an illustrated talk with archaeologist Jackie Nowakowski & Carolyn Kennett looking back at the excavations.

Sunday May 29th:

  • 11.00-12.30pm From Prehistory to Present – the remarkable story of ‘King Arthur’s Tombstone’. Archaeologist Ann Preston-Jones tells an intriguing story about the site at Slaughterbridge.
  • 2.00-5.00pm A Megalithic Meander in the Shadow of Carn Galva, a guided walk visiting barrows, a circle, an entrance grave and a menhir.
  • 7.30-9.00pm King Arthur in Cornish folklore. A talk by folklorist Steve Patterson, looking at how Arthur has appeared in myth, history, literature, mysticism and popular culture.

All events are free to CASPN members. All walks (for CASPN members only) have to be booked in advance, as places are limited (and going fast!) The three talks, which will be held at the Old Town Hall, St Just TR19 7HT are also open to the public @ £5 each. Full details, including how to become a member, can be found on the CASPN web site.

As another deadline for the future of the Stonehenge WHS approaches, we have received the following communication from the Stonehenge alliance:

Dear Supporter,

This is a reminder to let you know that the deadline for comments on submissions by National Highways is nearly upon us. 

We are most concerned that, once again,  National Highways is lobbying hard for its discredited Stonehenge road widening scheme to be approved by the Secretary of State for Transport.   
CLICK HERE FOR KEY POINTS TO INCORPORATE
We believe our list of points make a compelling case for a re-examination of the scheme BEFORE the Secretary of State redetermines a re-application for the very same road scheme.

Comments must be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate  by 23:59, MONDAY, 4 APRIL 2022
Please email: A303Stonehenge@planninginspectorate.gov.uk
Western tunnel entrance and cutting | Photo and image credit: National Highways 2019.  More images of the Stonehenge road scheme can be found here.
Thank you so much to all our supporters who have sent comments to the Planning Inspectorate. 

Several of you have pointed out that if you did not register as an “interested party” for the Examination in 2019 you might receive a bureaucratic reply from the Planning Inspectorate as per the graphic below.

  
DO NOT be discouraged!  Your comments will be read, they will make a difference and, we sincerely hope, will be published by the Secretary of State for Transport along with all the others.  One of our supporters who took exception to the irksome reply, elicited an informative response from the Planning Inspectorate. The exchange can be read here.
ABOUT THE STONEHENGE ALLIANCE: The Stonehenge Alliance is a group of non-governmental organisations and individuals that seeks enhancements to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site and opposes development that would cause it significant harm.

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