Carn Brea (Cornish: Karnbre) is a hilltop site near Redruth, Cornwall, which has seen various human settlement over the years. Today Carn Brea medieval castle and a nineteenth century monument to Lord Francis Basset, Lord de Dunstanville. stand at the top of the ridge.
Carn Brea had a Neolithic settlement between 3700 and 3400 BC. A two acre inner enclosure was surrounded by a eleven acre outer area. The ramparts is made of stone walls with an earth bank and ditch. There are fourteen platforms on which Neolithic long houses would have stood. A population of 100 to 150 people would have lived here then.
The site was fairly fully excavated between 1970 and 1973. Nearby rock was used to make axes and edge grinding stones found on the site show that the people who lived here were capable turning stone into tools.
Later in the Iron Age the site was re-occupied. There is evidence of minerals mining in the immediate area. A hoard of gold gold that originated in Kent, showed they traded widely.
The Castle itself can be traced back to 1379. It is a stone twin towered fortress, built by the Bassett family and is inside the ramparts of the Iron Age hillfort. It was probably built has a hunting lodge, or as a chapel to St Michael. It has been restored and extended over the years, and today has the look of a modern folly, rather than a medieval fort.
Today the Castle operates as a restaurant, though I personally have never been able to find it actually open.
The granite monument, the Basset Memorial, is close to it on the top of the hill is 90 feet high, and was built in 1836. It is to Lord Francis Basset, who was one of the major mine owners in the Camborne-Redruth mining district at that time. The memorial stands at the summit of Carn Brea at about 730 feet above sea level. Lord Francis Basset later became Lord de Dunstanville.
Carn Brea now lies partly in the ownership of Kerrier District Council and Carn Brea Parish Council, with some parts in private hands.
Carn Brea photographs
Carn Brea Parish
Cornwall Castles Map