The earliest recorded occupation of this prominent granite ridge was an enclosed village situated at the eastern end. Radiocarbon dates have been obtained of 3,190 - 2,687 BC, which places this initial settlement during the New Stone Age. Excavation of the site revealed several hut circles and hundreds of flint arrowheads, many of them broken in situ, quite possibly indicating that this early settlement was abandoned following an attack by a neighbouring rival clan.
This large hillfort, perhaps dating to the early 1st century AD, was apparently built in three stages. The impressive ramparts were faced with large stone slabs, for the most part the defenses are single, but there are two on the southern side where the slope is more gentle. On the south, the simple entrance was guarded by side chambers, and several hut circles have been traced in the fort's interior. Excavation of storage pits inside the perimeter has revealed tin and copper ore caches, and one even contained a hoard of gold coins of the Cantiaci tribe in Kent discoveed in the 18th century; all of which probably means that the community here evolved around trade in the natural metal resources which were prospected in the area, perhaps for millennia.
The hillfort was possibly the site of the Romano-British tin-trading settlement known as Durocornavium.