The landscape and settlement pattern of the south-west peninsula is diverse but the majority of the settlements can be divided into two broad categories: minor enclosures, i.e. the rounds; and major enclosures, the multiple-enclosure forts and, perhaps, the cliff castles. In addition there is a scatter of unenclosed farmsteads about which very little is known. What are noticeably absent are the large hillforts of Wessex type which, we suggest, represent the power centres of large territorial groupings. In other words this level of social organization, so evident in the centre south,
does not appear to be present in the south-west. Instead the most appropriate model would seem to be a simple three-tier structure with the major enclosures representing the residences of the élite while the minor enclosures were the homesteads of their vassals. Below these would have come the unfree living in the unenclosed settlements. In such a system one might expect the élite to be more concerned with wealth in the form of livestock, leaving the vassals to till the land and to provide them with grain on a tithe basis in return for protection and patronage. The archaeological evidence would not contradict such a model but is hardly yet sufﬁcient to support it or to suggest an alternative.