On the hunt for interesting geocaches around Cornwall’s Roseland Peninsula we came across many regular nano’s and micro’s, however amongst those was this one, Dodman Point. The land is managed by The National Trust, which has been helpful with my research on the area and provided us with a suitable parking place in Penare.
Dodman Point is the highest headland on the south coast of Cornwall. (I measured the altitude as 353ft above sea level.) It has awesome views and a great deal of history attached to it. So much so that the headland is popular with archaeologists.
The National Trust page about Dodman Point states that the headland is home to a massive Iron Age earthwork, known as a promontory fort or cliff castle, however on our walk we didn’t see any evidence of this. More history is evident though. After a good half mile walk off in the distance we spotted a huge cross, made of granite and standing high above our heads. It is said that the cross was erected in 1896 by Rev. G Martin as a navigational aid for seafairers. But it failed to save two warships the following year and more recently, the pleasure boat “Darlwin” sank with all passengers on board in 1996.
All around the Bulwark there remains evidence of the Iron Age strip-field system, some areas have been made into larger fields, but those that remain are now being controlled to preserve them for longer, as the area is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Following the path in the direction of the geocache (I almost forgot I was out geocaching), we came across more history. This time it was an 18th century signal station (or watch house).
“In past centuries, prominent hills and headlands around Britain were equipped with fire beacons to warn of sea-borne raids and invasion. These beacons were the source of the series of fire and smoke that was seen by the Armada along the Cornish coast on 20 July 1588.” (The National Trust)
The Royal Navy set up a series of these stations around the coast in response to the war with France in 1795. The stations would communicate through a series of marks on a flagpole and outriggers, they were communciated to and from the ships at sea and between each other. The stations would have been manned 24 hours a day, and at night the signals would have been made by fire and blue light.
At Dodman Point, this watch house is a fine example. The watch tower is still in good condition and has a remaining anchoring shackle for the flagpole. The building itself is only one room and now houses a bench for walkers to rest upon in bad weather. The garden wall also appeared to remain in tact. The Dodman watch house was used by the coast guard during the 19th century, and the flagpole remained until 1957 when it was lost in a storm.
What a great thing to find while out geocaching. This is one of the many reasons I love the GPS based activity. Especially when people such as Loose Lips Sink Ships place geocaches at sites of historical interest. Oh and I forgot to mention that the geocache is not the only thing we found high up on this headland. We also found our first Waymarker. My next task is to find out more about waymarking and to find out how to log the one we found here.