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Promontory forts and earthworks

A number of Iron Age promontory forts can be found along the Gower coastline. As the name suggests, they were constructed on promontories overlooking the sea and were intended to defend against coastal invasion. Promontory forts tended to be smaller than hill forts and some of them may have had agricultural rather than defensive purposes – such as the earthwork on Burry Holmes, which is believed to have been a cattle pen.

The Yellow Top fort at Paviland is one of Gower’s best-known promontory forts. Its central area was approximately 40-44m in circumference. On the landward side of the fort there are two earth banks and ditches 32 metres apart, with a track running through the inner bank to where the entrance would have been. William Buckland, who discovered the famous Red Lady of Paviland, mistakenly believed Yellow Top fort to be a Roman settlement, describing the body as being that of a “Roman prostitute”, when it was instead the remains of a Stone Age hunter (as we know today).

Numerous other promontory forts can be found along the Gower coast, such as those at the Knave, Thurba Head, Rhossili Down (Old Castle Camp) and Oxwich Point (Maiden Castle).

Other Iron Age sites across Gower include:

  • Pen-y-Gaer
  • Gron-Gaer
  • Burry Holmes
  • Lewes Castle
  • Horse Cliff Fort
  • High Pennard
  • Stembridge Fort
  • Norton Camp
  • Crawley Woods Fort
  • Bishopston Valley Camp
  • Caswell Cliff Fort
  • North Hill Tor Camp
  • Berry Wood Ringwork
  • Reynoldston Camp