4th Jan 2004
I can't believe I have never visited this place before. I have driven past it so many times and I see it everyday on the horizon....but never ventured up to it.
To reach somewhere to park it is possible to take the narrow lane off the B3359 just to the north of the hillfort. This leads up to the radio mast (a landmark for many miles around). WARNING! in order to turn round you will have to go off road on what is a very muddy track in the winter. I managed to park by a gateway once I had turned round. The other problem is getting back onto the main road, nasty junction!
It might be advisable to park in the laybye on the B3359 just further on, from there a footpath cuts cross the field towards the hillfort.
The walk from the road is a short sharp climb until you suddenly come across this large earth bank. I had never realised how large it was, standing in the ditch I would put the bank at up to 9ft high in places. Once inside there is a wonderful flat space gently sloping to the west. I walked straight across and measured 100 paces. The entrance to the fort is on the west side and here the ditch has been filled in to allow access.
The view even on a dull winters day is superb. Looking south you can see the sea from Looe bay to the Dodman, the clay "hills" disapear as you turn to the right and Helman Tor and then Rough Tor and Brown Willy come into view. Further round Kilmar Tor, Stowes Hill and Caradon Hill can be seen before the hill behind the fort obscures further vistas.
Walking around the ditch I noticed how much quartz had been used in the construction of the bank. The stone is common in the area (see Duloe Stone Circle) but it made me wonder what the fort would have looked like in those early days before grass had taken hold, especially on moonlit nights.
Just a last note....on the west side of the bank there sits in the ditch a large lump of rock, it is very similar to the lumps at Essa, nr Polruan. Is this just a lump of rock or was it once a menhir?
There is an interesting news item about Bury Down Fort in the Cornwall Archaeological Unit’s Review of 1995-6, which comments “Bury Down Fort in Lanreath (SX188594) is an excellent example of an Iron Age hillslope fort. The inner rampart is particularly well preserved except in one section where stock erosion had created a bare, vertical scar over 10 metres long. Increase gorse growth was also a problem in places. The owners, the Tamblyns of Botelet, were very sympathetic to proposals to repair the erosion and so in September 1995 a team from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers spent a week on Bury Down, cutting scrub and re-forming the eroded rampart. A timber revetment was constructed, to retain the soil filled sandbags which were used to fill the scar. Soil laid over the top of the sand bags was held in place with geojute mating and the whole thing finally turfed over”.
If you fancy buying a copy of the Cornwall Archaeological Unit’s Review of 1995-6, called ‘Archaeology Alive No 4’, check out the CAU’s website, which I’ve added on the ‘Links’ page. It is currently being flogged off cheap at £1. No more info on this hill fort, except for a picture taken during the restoration, but a good read in general. The CAU also do lots of other interesting publications, and all in all they seem like real dudes.