Cornish Hillfort For Sale
Concerns as Iron Age Fort Goes on Market - From This is Cornwall, 11:00 - 15th November 2004
An Iron Age hill fort is due to go under the hammer next month - to the delight of entrepreneurs but the concern of historians and locals. Lindsey Kennedy reports
Historians and a school have raised concerns about the sale of an historic hill fort in Penzance, which is to be put up for auction next month. Historians and a school have raised concerns about the sale of an historic hill fort in Penzance, which is to be put up for auction next month.
Lescudjack Hill Fort, the area's largest Iron Age settlement, is for sale through Fulfords Estate Agents in Penzance, with a guide price of £28,000.
The estate agent said there had been "a lot of interest" in the site.
The area of land off Pendennis Road, Penzance, extends to around one hectare or 2.5 acres - and has breathtaking views over Penzance to Mount's Bay and the Mousehole Peninsula.
In the sale particulars, the estate agents suggest the land is suitable for "general amenity, equestrian or perhaps parking on the quarry area to the south-east" subject to planning permission.
The historic site will be put up for auction on December 2 at the Novotel, Marsh Mills, Plymouth, unless previously sold,
Ian Addicoat, a local author and historian, is among those expressing concern about the pending sale.
He said: "Clearly it is imperative that such an historic and important site is maintained and preserved correctly".
"I think if there were any plans to develop such an important site there would be an outcry, and I would be very surprised if the planners would allow it".
He said the site was currently overgrown, adding: "I hope whoever takes it on appreciates its history and considers allowing it to be used as an amenity".
"I'm not sure the public is aware of its significance. They probably think it's a field with a nice view. But historians are certainly aware of what it represents".
Historian and writer Craig Weatherhill, who mentions the hill fort in his book Belerion, said it dated back to around 300BC.
"It is extremely important to Penzance and over the decades it's been treated pretty shamefully", he said.
Hill forts were fortified settlements which began to appear in upland areas, especially in southern England.
They were often massive, complicated structures with surrounding ramparts and ditches. Some of them served as small towns and administrative centres, as well as fortifications at times of conflict.
Although the Penzance hill fort is overgrown, the site has never been properly explored and could reveal many archaeological secrets.
Mr Weatherhill added: "Some 15 to 20 years ago there was a proposal to do a hefty excavation but it came to nothing. It has never really been dug properly".
"I would be delighted if local historical groups are successful, because they would have the well-being of the site at heart".
Nikki Owen, headteacher of Penzance Infants School, which is close to the ancient site, said the news of the sale was "very disappointing".
Two years ago children from the school gave some serious consideration to what they would like to see happen to the old Lescudjack Hill Fort site.
The children made the site their summer project and set about gathering names on a petition calling on the local councils to carry out some improvements.
Some 30 children from Year Two visited the then Mayor of Penzance, Ruth Simpson, and presented her with a 500-name petition calling for the site to be refurbished.
"It took us some time to track down the owner of the site, who turns out to be somebody in Newlyn," Mrs Owen said.
"It is very disappointing that it is being sold off.
"I only hope that any future owner will develop it as a public amenity and show its historic significance."
Posted by phil
15th November 2004ce
Edited 16th November 2004ce