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Lankidden cliff castle



Introduction to site

As with the other cliff castles on the Cornish coast, Lankidden dates from the Iron Age, being broadly contemporary with the hillforts and rounds that formed such a prolific part of the Iron Age landscape. Cliff castles were commonly created through the construction of a single bank and ditch, sometimes with a lesser external bank or counterscarp as at Lankidden. In some cases, multiple banks or stone walls were also used.

Access and Facilities


Lankidden is accessed from the coastal path which can be joined at either Coverack (continue south) or Kennack Sands (continue north). There is open access over the whole site. If approaching from Coverack it is also possible to take in the neighbouring cliff castle of Chynalls which lies to the east at Chynalls Point. There are refreshment and public toilet facilities at both Kennack Sands and Coverack.

There are public car parks at both Coverack and Kennack Sands.

The site is free to visit, and is open any reasonable time in daylight hours.

There are regular bus services to Coverack, and also to Kennack Sands. Visit the Traveline website for customised sustainable transport options.


View our interactive Access to Monuments map to find this and other nearby sites.

More information


Lankidden cliff castle lies on an impressive headland on the south Cornwall coast approximately one and a half kilometres east of Kennack Sands. At this point the natural serpentine of the Lizard area is cut by thick dyke (or sheet) of hard crystalline Gabbro which terminates in the rugged stack at Carrick Luz, whose name translated from the Cornish means ‘grey rock’.

Cliff castles resemble their inland hillfort neighbours in many ways. Both have substantial earthwork defences and contain evidence of domestic occupation such as pottery, hearths and houses. Both types of sites would have commanded an element of prestige and would have offered a degree of defensive protection to the community they served. Where cliff castles are thought to differ from hillforts are in their dramatic settings within the landscape. Natural sites held a deep religious and ceremonial significance to Late Bronze Age and Iron Age peoples and this would probably have been reflected in how cliff castle sites were used and celebrated. They would probably have served as a communal, ceremonial and protective focus for the surrounding settlements and with their strategic coastal positions would probably have served as important centres for trade and exchange with foreign visitors.

It is not uncommon for cliff castle sites to show a continuous usage through from earlier prehistoric times and Bronze Age barrows in particular are often seen in association with them. Settlement patterns surrounding cliff castles also suggest continuity of use and at Lankidden there are the visible remains of a prehistoric field system a short distance inland from the headland. It is thought however, that the use of cliff castles was most likely to be seasonal and/or reserved for occasional special purposes which drew the surrounding community together. Following the Roman period in Britain out of which came huge domestic and religious change, cliff castles became largely disused. Whereas some hillforts enjoyed a renewed period of occupation and modification during the changeover from Roman to Early Mediæval periods, cliff castles show no evidence of any further use until some later mediæval use as sources of stone for building.

Sources/Further Reading