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Iron Age
Cliff Castles
   
Chynalls
Lankidden
Rame Head
The Rumps
 
 
  Lankidden
St Keverne

Kerrier
NGR: SW 7555 1650
 
Aerial photo of Lankidden cliff castle from the east
 
Lankidden cliff castle lies on an impressive headland on the south Cornwall coast approximately one and a half kilometres east of Kennack Sands. At this point the natural serpentine of the Lizard area is cut by thick dyke (or sheet) of hard crystalline Gabbro which terminates in the rugged stack at Carrick Luz, whose name translated from the Cornish means ‘grey rock’.

As with the other cliff castles on the Cornish coast, Lankidden dates from the Iron Age, being broadly contemporary with the hillforts and rounds that formed such a prolific part of the Iron Age landscape. Cliff castles were commonly created through the construction of a single bank and ditch, sometimes with a lesser external bank or counterscarp as at Lankidden. In some cases, multiple banks or stone walls were also used.

Cliff castles resemble their inland hillfort neighbours in many ways. Both have substantial earthwork defences and contain evidence of domestic occupation such as pottery, hearths and houses. Both types of sites would have commanded an element of prestige and would have offered a degree of defensive protection to the community they served. Where cliff castles are thought to differ from hillforts are in their dramatic settings within the landscape. Natural sites held a deep religious and ceremonial significance to Late Bronze Age and Iron Age peoples and this would probably have been reflected in how cliff castle sites were used and celebrated. They would probably have served as a communal, ceremonial and protective focus for the surrounding settlements and with their strategic coastal positions would probably have served as important centres for trade and exchange with foreign visitors.

It is not uncommon for cliff castle sites to show a continuous usage through from earlier prehistoric times and Bronze Age barrows in particular are often seen in association with them. Settlement patterns surrounding cliff castles also suggest continuity of use and at Lankidden there are the visible remains of a prehistoric field system a short distance inland from the headland. It is thought however, that the use of cliff castles was most likely to be seasonal and/or reserved for occasional special purposes which drew the surrounding community together. Following the Roman period in Britain out of which came huge domestic and religious change, cliff castles became largely disused. Whereas some hillforts enjoyed a renewed period of occupation and modification during the changeover from Roman to Early Mediæval periods, cliff castles show no evidence of any further use until some later mediæval use as sources of stone for building.

Access is via the coastal path from Kennack Sands or Coverack, or by footpath from Arrowan to the north. There is open access over the whole of the cliff castle. If approaching from Coverack it is also possible to take in the neighbouring cliff castle site of Chynalls which lies to the east at Chynalls Point.

Sources
Bird, E, 1998. The Coasts of Cornwall. Alexander Associates.

 
 
 
How to get there


Map

Access is via the coastal path from Kennack Sands or Coverack, or by footpath from Arrowan to the north. There is open access over the whole of the cliff castle. If approaching from Coverack it is also possible to take in the neighbouring cliff castle site of Chynalls which lies to the east at Chynalls Point.

Map link


Ground & Aerial photographs

 
     

Illustrations & Plans

 
 
 

Nearby sites

Chynalls Cliff Castle
Halliggye Fogou
Kynance Gate Settlement
Trebarveth Salt Making Site
Tremenheere Stone
 
supported by HLF and compiled by the Historic Environment service of Cornwall Council  
last updated: 07/04/2009