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Iron Age

800BC to AD43

Open settlements continue to be built, but around 400BC they were joined in the landscape by a new type of settlement.

These new settlements are known as rounds or enclosed settlements and consist of a small number of round houses enclosed by a substantial bank and ditch. Rounds were essentially farming settlements whose inhabitants grew crops, kept livestock and practised small scale metalworking.

The term 'round' as a class of monument has become a handy label to refer to any enclosure in Cornwall thought to be a prehistoric settlement. Within the county there is an enormous variation in the size and form of enclosures. This is especially the case with those which have been ploughed down and have been identified from cropmarks on aerial photos. Many are not round, and there is little or nothing to distinguish them in appearance from enclosed settlements found in many other parts of the country.

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Authority was based in the hillforts and cliff castles which are distributed throughout the county. Hillforts are large areas high on hill slopes or hill tops which were enclosed by massive lines of bank and ditch; cliff castles were coastal headlands enclosed in a similar way. We are uncertain whether the authority symbolised by these impressive landmarks belonged to powerful families or to the community as a whole represented by a council of elders.

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