The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Treryn Dinas

Cliff Fort


24 June 2014

The walk along the coast path from Carn les Boel is lovely one, rugged cliff tops dropping away to the blue-green below. At Gwennap Head basking sharks can sometimes be seen, but we don't have that privilege today.

It's an up-and-down section of path, dropping down to the tiny sandy beach at Porthgwarra (tea-shop), back up to exposed cliffs before a further drop to St Levan's Well above Porth Chapel. The well is worth a stop off, in its unusual position half way up the cliffs. From here it's a brief foray into tourist central near the famous Minack Theatre and the thronged beach at Porthcurno. From the cliffs above the Minack there is a great view of the day's final objective, the impossibly craggy headland of Treryn Dinas (pronounced "Treen").

We last came here about eight years ago, I only have a few crappy pictures and am keen to return - since then we've only seen the headland from a couple of boat trips, which reinforced just how startlingly rocky the site is. Along with its companion on the north coast, Gurnard's Head, this is the most impressive of the West Penwith cliff forts.

The defences are quite something. The outermost consist of a single, huge earthwork bank, several metres high in places. South of this is a flat area, quite overgrown now, before the central defences appear quite some way further south. These are formed of three lines of banks and ditches, much smaller in size than the outer rampart, but still providing a series of obstacles for any unwanted guests to negotiate. Beyond these, the ground slopes downwards towards a band of craggy granite outcrops. A sort-of path runs through the centre of these, taking the visitor along a ever-narrowing channel between the rocks. There is an easier route round to the west, but it would be interesting to know which was the original way in - perhaps one was the tradesman's entrance.

Once you've semi-scrambled over these, you are confronted with the narrowest point of the headland, where a ditch fronts another well-defined stone rampart, the innermost of the defences. Stone facing still lines the entrance through the centre of the bank. A circular round house (perhaps a guard house) originally existed at each end of this, but one has largely eroded away now.

Beyond this final earthwork, the tip of the headland is a wonder of jagged towers of granite. One of these is topped by the famed "Logan Rock", a rocking stone once toppled by sailors of the Royal Navy and re-erected at their expense following a public outcry. Quite right too.

I have a good scramble about in the rocks, although I don't manage to find a way up to the Logan Rock itself - I'm sure a longer visit would provide the answer to how to get up there, but it's quite exposed in places and the wind whips around the rocks, even on this sunny June day.

It's an amazing place here. Once beyond the innermost rampart, there's little that would suggest a nice place to live though. My speculative guess is that any occupation here took place further inland, within either the safety of the enormous outer earthwork or the central rows. Which leaves the question of why build a strongly defended rampart across the rocky tip of the headland. Perhaps someone important had their home here, or perhaps the headland was kept free of riff-raff for the inevitable "ritual purposes". My usually sceptical self can certainly imagine that here, as the wind gusts around the stone towers and the focal point of the Logan Rock itself, perched above it all.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
31st August 2014ce
Edited 31st August 2014ce

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