Cornwall wins National Lottery Fund to save heritage sites

Hut circles at Kynance Gate, Cornwall

Hut circles at Kynance Gate, Cornwall - Credit: Cornwall AONB

A flagship project to save vulnerable heritage monuments in Cornwall has hit the jackpot.

Cornwall AONB’s flagship project has hit the jackpot with a £489,700 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The awarded grant, thanks to National Lottery players, will allow the Monumental Improvement project to move into its delivery stage ensuring 40 at risk and vulnerable Scheduled Monuments in the protected landscape are better identified, supported and enjoyed by a wide range of people. 

Monumental Improvement is seeking to protect over 4,000 years of Cornish heritage aiming to remove as many of the 40 sites from the Heritage at Risk register as possible, whilst providing extensive training for local volunteers to help care for the monuments in the future. 

The ancient fort of Black Head near St Austell is a unique scheduled monument, Cornwall

The ancient fort of Black Head near St Austell is a unique scheduled monument - Credit: Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Historic Environment Record

Through a widespread activity programme and increased interpretation, the project will also connect more people to heritage in the protected landscape, provide skill development and improve the health and wellbeing of local communities. 

'Our cultural heritage in the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is not only defined by the flora, fauna, wildlife and coast. It includes Scheduled Monuments which feature in the protected landscape providing intrigue and imagination, hinting at Cornwall’s incredible history,' says Emma Browning, partnership manager for Cornwall AONB.

'The Monumental Improvement Project brings together landowners, organisations, volunteers and experts to not only protect 4,000 years of Cornish heritage but connect more people with the protected landscape, improving health and wellbeing. 

'The project delivers in ten of the 12 Sections of Cornwall AONB allowing for an incredible reach to local communities, opportunities for job creation, volunteering and understanding Cornwall’s rich history. Once these Scheduled Monuments are lost, they are lost forever. We hope that this project will remove many of them from the Heritage at Risk register, but it will bring all of them to life in the collective imaginations of local communities and visitors. For those that are impossible to remove from the register because of their location, their stories will be told, contributing to the unique sense of place that is Cornwall AONB.'

Gunwalloe Cliff Castle, Cornwall AONB

Sites that need protecting in Cornwall include Gunwalloe Cliff Castle - Credit: Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Historic Environment Record

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The Scheduled Monuments are unrivalled for their national uniqueness, representing the breadth of Cornish history with some dating back as far as the Stone Age. They include Iron Age hill forts and Neolithic settlements, which feature alongside Medieval motte and bailey castles and a World War Two airfield. Some sites have iconic associations with the writer Daphne Du Maurier, composer Richard Wagner and the legendary King Arthur, whilst others are part of the wild romance of Cornish legends. 

The Rumps Cliff Castle in North Cornwall is a special heritage monument

The Rumps Cliff Castle in North Cornwall is a special heritage monument - Credit: Cornwall AONB

Thirty five of the monuments are currently listed on the Heritage at Risk register, whist the remaining five are classified as vulnerable. The monuments are also ecologically significant, with 16 located in Sites of Special Scientific Interest and a further 12 in European Designated sites which have the highest level of environmental protection in the UK. 

It is an exciting time to be involved in Cornwall AONB, and you can find out more, including details of upcoming events and how you can get involved, by visiting: 

The Monumental Improvement project is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Cornwall Council, Historic England, National Trust, Cornwall AONB, Cornwall Heritage Trust and Kilkhampton Parish Council. 

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