The Iron Age (600BC-43AD)
Following on from the Late Bronze Age, came the Iron Age. It was around this time that the Celts were believed to have first arrived in Britain.
Whilst iron had been produced since the Middle Bronze Age, it took several centuries for this to replace copper and bronze as the preferred material for the fashioning of weapons and farming tools.
Inhabitants of Cornwall also began to live in defended settlements called ‘rounds’. These ‘rounds’ were groups of houses that were enclosed by banks and ditches which surrounded them. These settlements became social and economic centres, with the inhabitants of each pooling their skills and resources, and subsequently trading with the inhabitants of the different settlements.
One of the most important and well known of these settlements can be found at Trevelgue Head, near Newquay. Also known as Porth Island, this was the first Iron Age Coastal settlement in Britain to have been thoroughly excavated by archaeologists, in 1939. Having been a site of some importance for many years previous, it wasn’t until the Iron Age had commenced that any kind of development had taken place, and this came in the shape of the construction of a large hillfort with it’s stone ramparts, which can still be seen there today.
Attributes that required the necessity for a fort to be built to defend it, include the sheltered harbour of St.Columb Porth, which had long been used to export tin to foreign shores, along with it’s wealth of local iron deposits. The site is designated an Area of Great Historic and Scientific Value, and is protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Another important, and very well preserved example of an Iron Age settlement in Cornwall is at Chysauster Ancient Village, near Penzance, which is an English Heritage site and well worth a visit. Access to the site is free if you are a member of English Heritage, and is open to visitors until 4th November 2012.
If you should fancy a visit to either of these historical sites, but would rather stay in accommodation a little cosier than that which was available to the Celts of the time, visit Toad Hall Cottages for details of our cottages in Cornwall.