Chûn Castle

Although Chûn Castle is only a few hundred yards from the Quoit, it comes from a much later period. Built during the Iron Age, during the third century BC, it is over 2000 years later than the Quoit. Although it is in a ruined state, its size can still be well appreciated. It is 85m (280ft) in diameter, and consists of a central area, surrounded by two concentric granite walls with external ditches. The outer ditch was 6.1m (20ft) wide, and the outer wall now 2.1m (7ft) high, but may originally have been 3.0m (10ft) high. The inner wall (now mostly destroyed) was some 4.6m (15ft) to 6.7m (22ft) thick, and could originally have been some 6.1m (20ft) high. There were originally some Iron Age huts in the inner area, though no trace of these now remain. The site was re-occupied in about the sixth century AD, when 15 or 16 stone houses were built around the inner courtyard, and a furnace for smelting tin was made, just south of the well in the NW quadrant of the inner area. The entrance was also reshaped to make a staggered en- try, which would have made attack difficult. The site was plundered during the 18th century of stone to construct the Madron Workhouse and pave some streets in Penzance.

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Ordnance Survey Grid Reference

SW 405 339

Location

Chûn Castle (pronounced ‘Choon’) lies a few hundred yards east of Chûn Quoit [see previous page] on the summit of the hill, with panoramic views in all directions.

Access

A path leads from Chûn Quoit to the Castle. Alternatively, the site may be reached directly from Trehyllys Farm below. To get to Trehyllys Farm take the minor road that runs between Madron and Morvah, and just past the small car park for the Mên-an-Tol there is a turning to the left that leads to Trehyllys Farm. There is no car park as such, but normally one or two cars may be left in the farmyard area. The path to the Castle is indicated by a whitewashed boulder.

Folklore and Legend

According to the old stories, the Castle was built by Jack of the Hammer, or Jack the Tinner, a wandering tin prospector who arrived in West Penwith and killed a local giant. He may be a version of the Irish sun-God Lugh, and his skill with tin a memory of the tin smelting here.

Purpose and Meaning

The Castle was obviously an important site in the Iron Age and early Christian period, perhaps a meeting place for the local tribes or clans for barter, exchange, the sealing of bargains and ‘marriages’ and ceremonies. It was obviously also a busy place for the production and smelting of tin, which was then traded with other Celtic tribes in Britain, Ireland and on the Continent. An ancient trackway, The Tinners Way, runs from here towards the Hayle estuary and St.Michael’s Mount.