Canon Diggens Archive


Earth Works. A.D. 735.

Re erection of the Dry trees Menhir Mr. Borlace relates that although the Cornish were driven out of Devonshire about the year 735 A.D. the warfare did not end until Athelstan fixed the Tamar as the boundary between the two races in 936.

These entrenchments and stockades are imprints which two centuries of border warfare might well leave on the face of the country. There are ancient earth works at Arrowan, and Carrick Lug - Cliff Castles they are termed.

There are also remains of Defensive Earth Works on Goonhilly Downs and on the estate of Halwyn is a circular Camp called The Round, containing about an acre situated about a mile from Porthallow.

Organic remains are to be found in the rocks of Nelby Cove, Porthallow.

Mr. Lawrence when 88 years old told me he remembered soldiers being encamped in the Round Camp at Halwyn to watch the smugglers.

These earthworks are doubtless of very ancient construction, in view of the fact that an engagement between Ivor, King of Wales, and the Saxons, in the year 680, took place at Heyle, which Whitaker supposes to have been situated near the Mouth of the Helford. The Saxons were defeated by the Cornish.

In 1735 at Condorrow, near the South Entrance to the Helford River, were found 24 gallons of Roman brass money, all of the age of Constantine and his family from 259 to 284 A.D.

Earth Works roughly clarified.

Defensive 35
Agricultural 21
Pastoral   2
Domestic   7
Sepulchral or Religious 19
Stone Remains   6
Uncertain 27

Romano-British Remains at Trelan
The Trelan Bahow (St Keverne) Mirror
Mr. John Rogers. Penrose

In the year 1833 Mr. Sam. James, the then freeholder of the Estate of Trelan, had occasion to cut a new road through a large field called The Bahow - door or gate hinges. In the course of the work he came upon several graves situated in a sheltered place on a northern slope of the land near the southern margin of Goonhilly Downs. They were two or three feet below the surface of the ground and lay in a group together.

Each grave was formed of six stones set on edge, two at each side, and one at each end besides the covering stones, and they lay in a direction nearly east and west.

In one of them was found a very perfect mirror of bronze, together with several beads of various substance, some in a perfect state, others fragmentary, with other bronze articles, such as parts of fibulae etc., all apparently personal ornaments, and probably indicating the interment of a female. There were also several implements of hand iron stone.

Several of these relics were dispersed at this time and cannot now be traced. Mr. Edwards of Helston generously placed those which survived at my disposal, and I have since added them to the antiquities in the British Museum.

The Trelan Bahow (St Keverne) mirror is an object of great rarity. It is circular in form, 6 inches in diameter, with a well formed handle which projects two and a half inches from the edge. Mr. Edwards informs me that when it was found one side was quite brightly polished. The whole mirror is now richly covered with aerugo, but a portion of the polished surface is still discernible. Both front and back are perfectly flat, and although the plate is very thin it has no appearance of having been furnished with a strengthening rim.

Two other distinct finds are recorded viz. one in Scotland and four in England and although none of the examples resemble this in every respect it can scarcely be doubted that the Trelan mirror belongs to the same period of art to which the rest are assigned.

1. One was found at Gilton, a Saxon Cemetery near Sandwich. Kent. 1763.

2. Specimen purchased in Paris, place of discovery unknown.

3. In Museum at Redford, found in excavation for Warden Tunnel of Midland Railway.

4. A bronze mirror and handles of two others found in cemetery at Stamford near Plymouth.

The more perfect of these mirrors resembles that of Trelan. The handle of the second mirror might have been punched by the same tool.

Two only of the Trelan glass beads remain, each about seven-eighth of an inch in diameter, the perforation three-fifths of an inch. One is a deep blue paste similar to that of which the celebrated Portland ware is made, and the other a tinted black and grey.

Rings of Brass. Two of them remain entire and are of one and three-sixteenths and two and fourteen-sixteenths inches external diameter respectively. The latter is made of metal of uniform thickness 1/4" on plane of its diameter, the other rather stouter and of unequal thickness. Fragments of similar rings were also discovered.

Various bronze articles of personal use or ornament, of which nothing remains but portions of fibulae.

Stone implements which are lost. If seems impossible that specimens so skilfully and artistically wrought and punched as those from Trelan could have been produced at a period anterior to that of the usual stone or bronze implements, or of the rude pottery found at Morval Hill. The most recent date however assigned to these late Celtic relics corresponds with the establishment of the Roman occupation of England. Whilst therefore there is abundant evidence of Roman and even Saxon interments within tumuli and other burial places of earlier British date affording frequent opportunity for the mingling of Roman and Saxon era, and other relics with those of undoubtedly earlier periods, it seems to be quite contrary to all acknowledged experience that the art manufacture of a nation should suddenly, and within the limits of historical record, be found to become so deteriorated as the change from the quality and beauty of the Trelan relics to the rude simplicity of the most perfect paleotave or funeral urn. Yet nothing less than this seemed to be involved in the argument referred to.
Journal Roy Inste Vol XV April 1874.

Ancient Cross at Trelanvean.
See Journal of R.I. Cornwall. 1874. Dr. Jago.

Trelanvean Cross is now supposed to be standing on its original sight (site).
It was overturned about 60 years ago as people imagined that a crock of gold might be underneath.
Mr. Richard Smith who lived at Trelan for 60 years put it in its old place before he left.

The Castle.
The old castle in the village stood on the site of the late Dr. Leverton Spry's house. It was shaped like the letter T with the perpendicular line abutting the road. There was a broad staircase in the castle, and a large upper room - as big as the lower schoolroom - with a ceiling on which was represented Chevy Chase.

Roscruge Beacon.
The above stands 580 ft. high. It was a station in the Great French War and it affords a very extensive view to the North and East.

The Club
St Keverne Club is mentioned in parish Records.