Cliff Castle, Newquay, Cornwall

Cliff Castle, Newquay, Cornwall

Cliff Castle, Trevelgue, Newquay is an Iron Age Promontory Fort. It was originally defended by six ramparts and ditches, which made it a formidable stronghold in its time.

There are many of these "Cliff Castle" Promontory Forts around the coast of Cornwall. Usually they are just a shallow ditch across a headland, designed as a last refuge in times of trouble. Certainly no retreat for the defenders, but easier for a small group to defend.

The Cliff Castle north of Newquay is a dramatic setting, approached today via a bridge. A storm has removed the narrow strip of land connecting the promontory to the mainland, and today Trevelgue Head is a tidal island. Another example of a Cliff Castle is Maen Castle near Land's End, one of the better preserved of the "small shallow ditch' variety.

There is evidence of bronze-smelting, and two large round-barrows shows that settlement began in the Bronze Age. Occupation of the site continued uninterrupted into the Middle Ages.

In 2004 dramatic measures have been necessary to repair the ancient Bronze Age barrow on Trevelgue Head. Work began with an airlift of 50 tonnes of headland soil by 771 Naval Air Squadron Culdrose. The repair was necessary to overcome the effect of natural erosion as well as the wear and tear of the many visitors. Transporting the required quantity of material across the narrow footbridge by hand would have been impossible without the help of the Navy. Once the soil was deposited on the headland, the conservation works on the Barrow could be effected. A plan drawn up in 1999 by English Heritage identified the need to repair two ramparts of Iron Age cliff castle, which made Trevelgue one of the most heavily defended headlands in Cornwall.

Cliff Castle, Trevelgue

Cornwall Castles Map