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History, Smugglers tunnels & Harry Potter…what more do you need?!

March 27, 2014
Carn Brae - less than an hour from The Rathgowry in Falmouth

To make your stay more interesting with us at The Rathgowry Guesthouse in Falmouth, Cornwall, we thought we would give you a few facts and photo’s about Carn Brae Castle – another local landmark.  This landmark is just 30 minutes drive from our Guesthouse in Falmouth.

Did you know that the name ‘Cornwall’ comes from the combination of two separate terms from different languages. The ‘Corn’ part comes from the original tribal name of the Celtic people who had lived here since the Iron Age, the Cornovii.

The second element ‘wall ‘ derives from the Old English w(e)alh, meaning a “foreigner” or “Welshman”.

The Cornish language which was known by the name of ‘Kernow’, first appeared around 1400 and derives directly from the original Cornovii.   This is thought to be a corruption of Durocornovium, ‘a fort or walled settlement of the Cornovii’.   Its location is unidentified, but Tintagel or Carn Brea have been suggested.

View from top of Carn Brae

View from top of Carn Brae

Now, what we have here is a view from near the top of Carn Brea.

Few people realise that perhaps one of the most important archaeological sites in the county can be explored on the slopes and summits of Carn Brea hill.

Approximately six thousand years ago a series of massive stone walls were constructed to encircle the central and eastern tors of the hill and a double set of ramparts were erected across the slopes, linking the two and enclosing the area between them. The massive ramparts, which were estimated to have stood over 2m high and 2m thick, were not continuous but used natural granite outcrops and large earth-fast boulders to provide a seamless barrier. Traces of the ramparts are still visible as low spread stony banks, especially in areas where the vegetation has been kept low, for instance, along some of the footpaths.

Unusual rocks at Carn Brae

Unusual rocks at Carn Brae

Trenches dug to investigate the interior of the eastern enclosure revealed traces of what may have been rectangular lean-to houses against the internal face of the ramparts, with evidence for occupation in the form of flint, stone tools and pottery. During the Iron Age the ramparts, by then already over 3,000 years old, were repaired and re-used, and settlement of this period is represented by up to twelve round houses, visible on the saddle between the two summits, and by finds including pottery, a quern-stone and spindle whorls. The hilltop bears evidence for occupation from just about every period from the stone tools of hunter gatherers up to the present day.

The ‘castle’ shown at the top was built in 1379 – apparently as a chapel. It was rebuilt in the 1700’s as a hunting lodge, but is now a restaurant.  It is a MUST SEE landmark and looks really weird because it is built directly on top of rocks – and you can see straight through the gaps in them – so it looks like the whole building is about to fall off the rocks.

Also at Carn Brae is a 30m high monument to Mr (Baron) Bassett, erected in 1836. He built some of the ramparts against the French and also put down a miners food riot in 1785 – apparently a good thing…

What you probably don’t know is that in a depression between the Monument and the Castle, there is rumored to be the remains of a Smugglers’ Cave blocked by the Council in the 1980s with rocks.  This tunnel apparently travels from the top of the Carn down into Redruth town -but is likely to have been abandoned mine workings. This may have been confused with the separate tunnel running from the castle down to St Uny’s church (which I believe is the one in the photo above), which was blocked off for safety reasons c1970 by the castle owners.

Ford_Anglia..getting ready for a flight to Carn Brae...?

Ford_Anglia..getting ready for a flight to Carn Brae…?

And finally for all the Harry Potter fans out there… The Ford Anglia car that was stolen after featuring in the Harry Potter films was found at the Castle in 2006!  Must have flown there!

It really is worth going to Carn Brae – and you don’t realize how high up you are – until you are standing right up there.  You can see for miles in every direction.



We hope you found this interesting, and it would be brilliant if you went to our bookings page and booked one of our lovely rooms at The Rathgowry Guesthouse here in Falmouth, Cornwall.  It is the perfect base to explore Cornwall from and don’t forget, we will fill you up with a delicious Cornish breakfast to give you the best start to your day and provide you with lots of useful hints and tips to ensure you get the most out of your visit to Falmouth.  So go on – give us a call for best prices or book online now. 🙂

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