We have lost count of the number of hillforts we have seen, climbed and contemplated… but Carn Lês Boel would be our first true promontory fort. These Cornish ‘fortifications’ or ‘cliff castles’ seem to be nothing of the sort, though, and the fortifications, such as they are, seem to defend something other than a settlement.
The narrow, rocky promontory juts out into the sea, surrounded on three sides by sheer and dangerous cliffs. On the landward side, it is bounded by a bank and ditch which, even accounting for the effects of erosion by centuries of weather, still seems a meagre defence, more symbolic than practical. It extends in a wide arc around the entrance to the headland and would take a lot of men to defend it against aggressors.
The natural defence of the headland is the land itself. Just a few men could hold the narrow neck of…
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