West Penwith has a number of hilltop sacred enclosures,
hill camps and interesting holy hills.
The hills are, of course, geologically ancient, though the hilltop sites come from the bronze and iron ages, from around 1800 BCE (enclosures) and 1200 BCE (hill camps), onwards.
Hill camps are usually called hillforts, but recent research shows that only 10% of them were ever used for defensive purposes. So, let's scrap that idea, shall we? We have security guards and cameras at banks, hospitals and shopping malls, and that doesn't make them defensive sites - they exist for other purposes.
See also: Neolithic Tor Enclosures.
Click the map on the right for a bigger version.
Enclosures and hill camps are difficult to photograph except from above.
Castle an Dinas, a sacred enclosure. On the horizon, centre, Trencrom Hill, then leftwards Trink Hill, Rosewall Hill and Zennor Hill
Above: Castle an Dinas, a sacred enclosure. On the horizon, centre, Trencrom Hill then, leftwards, Trink Hill, Rosewall Hill and Zennor Hill.
Below: Bartinney Castle
another circular sacred enclosure
comprising a large ring
inside which are three ring cairns and a well
Bartinney Castle. There's a circular sacred enclosure on top with cairns and a well inside
On top of Bartinney Castle
The well on top of Bartinney Castle
Below: Caer Brân, a bronze age gathering place with a circular enclosing bank, at the centre of Penwith.
Main: the view from below, near Grumbla. Right top: Chapel Carn Brea from Caer Brân.
Right below: the enclosing banks of Caer Brân, with the Lamorna Gap and Kemyel Point behind.
Caer Brân from below
Chapel Carn Brea as seen from Caer Brân
The Lamorna Gap from Caer Brân
Chapel Carn Brea as seen from Carn Lês Boel
Chapel Carn Brea as seen from Carn Euny
Chapel Carn Brea is the last hill in Britain, a beacon hill topped with cairns, visible from Scilly.
Pics left to bottom right: Chapel Carn Brea as seen from Carn Lês Boel; from Carn Euny; from the east; from Boscawen-ûn and from Trevorgans menhir near St Buryan.
Chapel Carn Brea
Chapel Carn Brea as seen from Boscawen-ûn
Chapel Carn Brea from Trevorgans menhir near St Buryan
Sancreed Beacon as seen from Botrea Hill
Watch Croft, Penwith's highest hill, as seen from Carn Eanes near Pendeen
Left, Carn Bean, right, Carn Kenidjack, as seen from Botrea Hill
Carn Eanes as seen from Chûn Quoit
Chûn Castle is a multi-period ancient hill. In the neolithic there was an enclosure on top of it, with Chûn Quoit on the slope just below it.
In the iron age a hill camp was built on top of it, and a village developed at Bosullow Trehyllis, downhill to the east, servicing the camp.
The iron age camp was involved in tin smelting and crafting, so it was a secure compound more than a hillfort.
On the left is Carn Eanes, above Boscaswell, as seen from Chûn Quoit.
Below is a picture of Chûn as seen from Carn Eanes, and two pictures showing what it's like inside the castle.
Inside Chûn Castle
Inside Chûn Castle
Chûn Castle as seen from Carn Eanes, with Chûn Quoit below it in the centre of the photo
Zennor Hill was popular in the neolithic - greener and homelier than today. It's one big hill with three bumps: Zennor Hill in the west, Sperris Croft in the middle, and Trendrine Hill in the east.
A quoit, rock temple, propped stones and logan rock are on Zennor Hill. Sperris Croft has a quoit, rock temple and settlement. Trendrine Hill has a tor and cairns.
Zennor Hill, right, Sperris Croft, middle, and Trendrine Hill, left, as seen from Carn Naun
Rock Temple on Zennor Hill
Carn Galva as seen from Zennor Hill
Magic tor rocks on Zennor Hill
The scene on top of Zennor Hill
Penwith's hills are not big, high and dramatic but they have captivating shapes and forms.
They were much used by ancient Penwithians because the climate was warmer and better, especially in the neolithic 3000s BCE - and below them the land was largely forest.
But by the bronze age, around 2000, the land was 50% cleared. The stone circle complexes built around that time were situated in open managed parkland - much had changed.
People would live higher up in summer, and lower down in winter. Everyone in Penwith would have known each other and they were at least distantly related, but different tribes had their own territories, perhaps 5-10 of them.