This is a cracker of a site and well worth a visit.
Access is easy as the Hillfort is sign posted and there is a rough car park which is reached via an equally rough track. It is at the back of some farm buildings.
The walk from the car park up to the site only takes about 5 minutes.
The Hillfort is well preserved with 3 sets of ramparts ranging in height from 2 metres to 4 metres.
The two Barrows in the middle of the site have certainly seen better days but at least they are still with us. Both of the Barrows are about 0.5 metres high and 10 metres across. One of the Barrows has a large stone lying in it.
There are good views to be had in all directions.
As with every other site I visited in Cornwall this week I had the place to myself.
Thi is another of those sites in Cornwall that I have past many times but never bothered to explore.....and another that after you make the effort you ask yourself why you have never done it before.
Castle-an-Dinas is LARGE!
Easy to reach just off the A30...which will shortly be closer to it when the new road opens...there is a handy carpark so that even those who do not want to walk far can access the site.
The whole place is full of history, not just the Iron Age fortress but also the 20th century wolfram mine buildings that flank the car park.
But it is the prehistory that will entice those who read this...
Fingerposts now guide you around the castle to preserve banks that have been badly eroded over the years by those who head straight for the top. Follow the posts, its worth it, you get to see far more of the site...in fact I would reccommend walking around in circles until you have done them all....
Once in the centre of the fort you will notice at least two mounds, all that remain of earlier tumuli, and a pond and eveidence of excavation, from a later period. I am sure the views on a good day are fantastic, it was a little hazy when I was there....good excuse to return!
Was this THE Iron Age castle of Cornwall?, I think it's the biggest...and being central between both coasts I think it must be. The hill fort at St Dennis is just across Goss Moor where evidence of Bronze Age tin streaming has been found. Beyond St Dennis the China Clay waste tips have obliterated any other prehistory many years ago but to the north the Nine maidens and Pawton Quoit are not far away....
But I waffle....make a detour when heading west..climb to the top and take in Cornwall...its worth it.
SW945624 - Not to be confused with the Castle-an-Dinas in Penwith (Land's End) this magnificent hill fort is well signposted from the road that runs past it, just West of Providence (Cornwall has some great hamlet names). From this road, a steep-ish rough lane takes you up to a rough car park. Then it's a short walk up to the hill fort.
The Cornwall Heritage Trust took over the site in 1988 and have recently put up info boards at the car park and up towards the fort. They also unveiled a brand new panoramic plate in the interior of the fort in June 2002, which amongst other local landmarks, points out the Nine Maidens Stone Row three miles to the North.
This massive Iron Age hill fort (thought to be occupied circa 400BC to 150 AD) has stunning views all around, excellent multiple ramparts, and stands at 700 feet above sea level. Two Bronze Age barrows are which the interior, the North one of which (near to the panoramic plate) is now a hollow with a stone lying in it.
The fort is mentioned in a miracle play written down in 1504: 'Beunans Meriasek' - the Life of St Meriasek. It's been suggested that it's a subversively anti-English. It was written in Cornish, which few toffs would understand, and the villain is called Teudar, which sounds remarkably like Tudor. Teudar is an invader who is reigning by force. Meriasek says he needs baptising but Teudar isn't having it and wants Meriasek hanged. The saint is warned in a vision and hides easily from Teudar's soldiers under a rock, consecrating the spring there to cure the insane, and then runs off to Britanny.
The second part of the play introduces Teudar's nemesis, the Duke of Cornwall, who vows to get rid of Teudar for having driven away the saint.
Me yv duk in oll kernow
indella ytho ov thays
hag vhel arluth in pov
a tamer the pen an vlays
tregys off lemen heb wov
berth in castel an dynas
sur in peddre
ha war an tyreth vhel
thym yma castel arel
a veth gelwys tyndagyel
henna yv o[v]fen tregse
I am Duke in all Cornwall:
So was my father,
And a high lord in the country
From Tamar to the end of the kingdom.
I am dwelling now, without a lie,
Within the castle of Dynas
Surely in Pidar,
And in the high land
I have another castle,
Which is called Tyntagel:
That is my chief dwelling-seat.
Pydar is one of the hundreds of Cornwall. You can see the play here in Whitley Stokes' translation, published 1872. There is much interesting discussion of it here in J P D Cooper's 'Propaganda and the Tudor State' (2003).
This is really extremely unpleasant but I suppose it conceivably gives an insight into the way people saw this fort at the time - I have no proof but you would imagine the gibbet to be actually on or within its walls as it is the high point of the eponymous downs. It dimly brought to my mind the way Hardy uses Stonehenge as a wild no-man's land for Tess of the D'urbervilles. As though it represented the opposite of somewhere civilised, somewhere apt for the end of someone uncivilised (not that anyone deserves such a way to go). Am I overanalysing, it is possible. It's so horrible I wonder if I should post it, for potentially spoiling the atmosphere there for anyone that reads this and visits :)
"Anne, the daughter John Pollard, of this parish [St. Columb], and Loveday, the daughter of Thomas Rosebere, of the parish of Enoder, were buried on the 23rd day of June, 1671, who were both barbarously murdered the day before in the house of Capt'n Peter Pollard on the bridge, by one John the son of Humphrey and Cicely Trehembern, of this parish, about 11 of the clock in the forenoon upon a market day."
The following tradition is given in connection with the above:= "A bloodhound was obtained and set upon the trail, which it followed up a narrow lane, to the east of the union-house, named Tremen's-lane; at the head, the hound made in an oblique direction towards the town, and in a narrow alley, known as Wreford's-row, it came upon the murderer in his father's house, and licked his boots, which were covered in blood."
The sentence on Tremen was "that he be confined in an iron cage on the Castle Downs, 2 miles from St. Columb, and starved to death." While in confinement he was visited by a country woman on her way home from market. The prisoner begged earnestly for something to eat; the woman informed him that she had nothing in the shape of food but a pound of candles; this being given him, he ate them in a ravenous manner. It's a saying here, in reference to a scapegrace, that he is a regular Tremen.
Castle an Dinas was mentioned briefly by Richard Carew in his 1600s 'Survey of Cornwall':
Neere to Belowdy, commonly, & not vnproperly, termed Beelowzy, the top of a hill is enuironed with deep treble trenches, which leaue a large playne space in the midst: they call it Castellan Danis... and it seemeth (in times past) to haue bin a matter of moment, the rather, for that a great cawsey (now couered with grasse) doth lead vnto it.
1mile N of A30 at Goss Moor
This magnificent Iron Age Celtic Fort dates from about the 2nd or 3rd Century BC. It consists of three concentric circles, of ditch and rampart , 850 feet above sea level . It is said to be one of the most important examples of its kind in the SW ; and some people speak of the legend that it was the place where Cador , Duke of Cornwall and husband of King Arthur's mother, met his untimely death. It has a car park and picnic area.
Mid-summer is celebrated here annually with a hilltop bonfire