It doesn’t take much imagination to realise there is something on the other side of this gate.
This is Castle Dore, an Iron Age hill fort/defended settlement (the last one 🙁 ) It is interesting for three reasons. First, it is easy to get to. You get off the bus, walk 3 minutes down the road and there’s this well-maintained gate. No trudging along muddy ditches claiming to be paths or clambering up bracken-covered hills.
Second, Dore is associated with the story of Tristan & Iseult* as the main residence of King Mark. There is the slight problem of there being no evidence of the site being inhabited beyond the Iron Age, except for a battle during the civil war in the 17th centure.
(*If you’re not familiar with the story: Iseult, an Irish princess comes to Cornwall to marry the king, Mark, but she falls in love with her nephew Tristan. Adventures ensue. Tristan dies tragically. Remember this, it will come up again.)
Here, between the rampart was a settlement with roundhouses and everything else a small settlement needs.
Which brings up to the third interesting thing: there has been a lot of investigation of the site and the Truro museum has a lot of artefacts on display. Some of them:
The bus from Castle Dore goes past Charlestown.
A historic harbour, complete with tall ships and old buildings lining it’s walls.
Charlestown is often used as a filming location. It fills in as Truro for the Poldark series & the Doctor Who black spot episode was filmed here.
There is also a Shipwreck Treasure Museum, which is like a maritime museum but more interesting.
The caption for this says: “This is what remained of the steel lock of a flintlock pistol which had lain submerged in the silt of the seabed for nearly two centuries. The stell has bee disolved by the action of salt water. The liquid rust thus produced has interfused with the surrounding silt & being a powerful fixative has set the rock hard.”
Some more exhibits:
One place I wanted to visit since I found out about it was the Lost Gardens of Heligan, but the two days I had in Truro both had rain forecast. Light rain all day on Tuesday and heavy rain Wednesday afternoon but fine in the morning. Given the gardens are a bit pricey and it is late in the year to be visiting gardens, I reluctantly decided I wouldn’t go there. Instead, I made use of the relatively good weather in the morning to visit the hill fort and Charlestown.
But the bus that goes from Castle Dore past Charlestown, guess what’s at the southern end of its route? So I thought I could at least go out ot the gardens and see what the weather was like. And that was: not raining. Overcast, not windy and threatening to rain but not actually raining.
The gardens were originally created in the 18th-early 20th century, but then neglected until the 1990s when they were restored. Hence the “lost gardens” of the name. Beyond the actual gardens, there are other areas to explore, including a woodland walk
with large-scale garden sculptures.
And a jungle with a rope bridge. (I have a video of crossing it if you’re interested but it is very shaky.)
With the gardens themselves, there are difference sections, some of which are below:
The pineapple pit consisted of three trenches covered with glass, slightly below ground level, connected with two cavity walls. The outer troughs were kept filled with 15 tonnes of fresh horse manure, which gave off heat as it decomposed. This heat passed through small gaps at the bottom of the wall, rose up, and was then forced through gaps at the top of the wall, into the central trough. The central trough is where the pineapples were grown, at an artificially high temperature, due to the manure.
As I was leaving, the weather, which has been raining on and off throughout the afternoon, finally settled into solid rain and wind. But I was on the bus back to Truro by then. (The slowest bus to Truro but it was warm and dry.)
It was dark by the time I got back and the cathedral was madly ringing its bells at 5.30. An interesting thing about stained glass windows is they usually only look good from inside (with the sun shining through them) but sometimes at night, when there are lights on inside, people outside get to enjoy them too.