Discover the archaeology and wildlife of Park Head

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The fine promontory of Park Head with its beautiful coastline is backed by fertile farmland which slopes gently down to Porth Mear valley to the north.

People walking the South West Coast Path, following the line of the enclosures, can miss seeing the wave-cut rock arches and the seabird eyries. Park Head itself with its well-preserved cliff castle and wonderful feeling of exposure is worth exploring. Fields sheltered by stout Cornish hedges of small stones bearing cushions of thrift are common. Good crops of corn can be grown if sufficient rain falls in the spring and early summer.

Intriguing archaeology

Visible from the coast path are six Bronze Age barrows (burial mounds) which probably date from between 1200-2500BC and an Iron Age cliff castle.

The cliff castle, situated across the neck of Park Head, is a good example of its kind. Two defensive banks are separated by a ditch. Cliff castles are common features on the Cornish coast, and archaeologists now think they were not temporary sites but permanently occupied, demonstrating the inter-tribal rivalries of the times. Normally one or two round houses would have stood inside the defences, sometimes against the back of the inner rampart. This site was probably used in the first centuries BC.

Wonderful wildlife

The tip of Park Head is of greenstone attractively blotched with orange lichen. Little grows right out at the end, but the persistent thrift find a root-hold, and the rock samphire is in its element. The brightly-beaked oystercatcher is sometimes seen here.

The fulmar, an oceanic bird, can also be seen here at certain times of the year.  May and June are the most rewarding months to enjoy Park Head, when you'll see the most seabirds, and the flowers bloom in great numbers. Galaxies of stonecrop bedeck the hedges and carpets of thyme and kidney vetch cover the ground near the coast path.  The area is being actively managed to prevent the gorse ousting the herb-rich flora.

The valley running up from Porth Mear, a delightful cove with some sand and many rock pools, offers a contrast to the exposed sea-facing cliffs. Thickets of thorn scrub grow here and those plants needing a waterside habitat thrive beside the small stream.