Cornwall Heritage Trust is continuing its mission to rescue Caer Bran – an important multi-age hillfort in West Penwith – as Historic England makes its formal announcement of the site’s addition to the Heritage at Risk register 2022.
Cornwall Heritage Trust purchased Caer Bran in February 2022 after Historic England made the decision to add the nine-hectare site to its Heritage at Risk register, due to a risk of bracken and scrub overgrowth. The purchase was made in order to protect the site from these issues as well as from possible development and intensive agricultural use.
Cornwall Heritage Trust CEO, Cathy Woolcock said: “The hillfort and ring cairns are protected as a Scheduled Monument, but Caer Bran has been on the Heritage at Risk register at many points over the last two decades. The Trust has been tracking the property for some time and so when it came onto the market earlier this year, it was incredibly important to us to take the site into our care. The reasons why Caer Bran was added to the Heritage at Risk register are exactly why we purchased the site, and our aim by doing this is to rescue it from the register once and for all.”
Since securing ownership of the area, Cornwall Heritage Trust has begun putting in place a programme of vegetation management to promote heathland regeneration and associated works to enhance the setting of Caer Bran and the other archaeological sites in the area.
Historic England Heritage at Risk Project Officer, Ann Preston-Jones said: “Caer Bran has had a succession of owners over the last few years. The site and surrounding ground was marketed by estate agents in 2016, 2018, 2021 and 2022. When the site was put up for sale again early in 2022 and there was yet more uncertainty about Caer Bran’s future, the hillfort was added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.”
“Historic England was delighted when Caer Bran was acquired by Cornwall Heritage Trust, thus saving it for the people of Cornwall. We are in the process of agreeing a grant to help Cornwall Heritage Trust initiate and deliver a programme of beneficial management and we fully anticipate being able to remove the site from the register next year, once the work of scrub clearance and bracken management begins in earnest.”
Located near Sancreed in the far West of Cornwall, Caer Bran contains archaeological remains from both the Bronze Age and Iron Age periods.
Traditionally considered to be an Iron Age enclosure, recent research shows that Caer Bran actually had origins in the Bronze Age, with the construction of three-ring cairns set within a hilltop enclosure. These can still be viewed at the site. Re-enclosure of the monument took place in the Iron Age with a more substantial bank and ditch, and this continuity shows the importance of Caer Bran to the people of the local area.
Cornwall Heritage Trust is an independent Cornish charity, which aims to preserve and strengthen Cornwall’s unique and distinct heritage for future generations. The charity protects 12 of Cornwall’s most iconic and important historic sites, runs a highly successful heritage education programme and provides school transport grants, which enable children to visit historic places across Cornwall.