Gurnard's Head

Gurnard's Head Cliff Castle

Gurnard's Head nr Zennor
Gurnard's Head
Gurnard's Head is a long, narrow, headland near the hamlet of Treen, in the parish of Zennor, on the north side of the Penwith peninsula. The name derives from the fact that the shape of the headland is supposed to resemble the head of the Gurnard fish. The Cornish name for the headland is 'Ynyal', which means 'desolate'.

Two crumbling stone ramparts, each around sixty meters long, cross the narrowest part of the headland forming an Iron Age promontory fort (cliff castle) known as Trereen Dinas (not to be confused with Treryn Dinas, near another hamlet called Treen in the parish of St Levan, the other side of Land's End). The ramparts enclose an area of roughly three hectares within which the remains of sixteen roundhouses have been found, averaging six meters in diameter. An excavation in 1939 revealed that the back of the inner rampart had been constructed in three steps, providing a place for slingers to stand. This type of construction has also been found in some Iron Age cliff castles in Brittany. The promontory defences are generally fairly hard to make out, although it is possible to discern the remains of the walls and at least one entrance.

The area is almost entirely owned by the National Trust, and the cliff castle is on open access land just off the coast path.