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Megaliths, Mênhirs and Stone Circles of Cornwall

North Cornwall
South East Cornwall
Mid Cornwall
West Cornwall
Isles of Scilly

Mesolithic: Middle Stone Age, 8000BC to 4500BC
Neolithic: New Stone Age, 4500BC to 2200BC
Bronze Age: 2200BC to 700BC
Iron Age: 700BC to 43AD
Roman: 43AD to 410AD
Post Roman: 410AD to 1000AD
Medieval: from 1000AD

Monuments by age

Bronze Age: 74

Iron Age: 80

Mesolithic: 1

Neolithic: 55

Post Roman: 24

Roman: 9

Monuments by type

Altar Stone: 1

Barrow: 22

Barrow Cemetery: 1

Cairn: 28

Cemetery: 1

Cliff Castle: 21

Earthwork: 3

Enclosure: 13

Entrance Grave: 1

Fogou: 6

Henge: 2

Hill Fort: 34

Holed Stone: 3

Inscribed Stone: 23

Long Barrow: 1

Menhir: 22

Quoit: 12

Ring Cairn: 1

Roman Fort: 2

Roman Milestone: 3

Round: 4

Settlement: 19

Stone Circle: 17

Stone Row: 2

Well: 1

Lanyon Quoit

Cornwall has hundreds of ancient monuments. They range from the small underground chambers known as 'fogous', mysterious chambered cairns and entrance graves, round barrows, long barrows, enigmatic inscribed stones, through to imposing quoits (dolmens) and cliff castles as well as my personal favourite the longstones or mênhirs.

Obviously, all of this monument building did not take place at the same time. Man has been leaving his mark on the surface of the planet for thousands of years and each civilisation has had its own method of honouring their dead and/or their deities.

There are large concentrations of megalithic Chamber Tombs in the far west, on the Land's End Peninsula and also on the Isles of Scilly. The most commonly visited (and photographed) are Lanyon Quoit, Chun Quoit, Mulfra Quoit (near Zennor); Ballowall Barrow (Carn Gluze) in Penwith and Trethevy Quoit (Liskeard). Scillonians can explore the well preserved Giant's Tomb above Porth Hellick [Grid ref. SV928108]; Innisidgen [Grid ref. SV922127] and Bant's Carn [Grid ref. SV910123] on St. Mary's. An excellent pair of guide books are The Modern Antiquarian by Julian Cope and Journey To The Stones - Mermaid to Merrymaid by Ian McNeil Cooke.

Men Scryfa - 'The Inscribed Stone'

Holed stones are a lot rarer with only two notable examples - Mên-an-Tol near Morvah and the Tolvan Stone on private farmland near Gweek.

The major Bronze Age barrows are situated at Pelynt; West Taphouse; Newquay; Rillaton & Jericho in Cornwall, and Obadiah's Barrow on Gugh, Isles of Scilly.

Well preserved Bronze Age Stone Circles are found in Penwith at The Merry Maidens (Boleigh); The Nine Maidens (Boscawen-ûn); Duloe Stone Circle (of white Quartzite) and at Tregeseal (The Dancing Stones). Bodmin Moor is home to The Hurlers and the Trippet Stones. The Hurlers are the remains of three ancient stone circles north of Liskeard. Legend has it that the local people were warned by local cleric St. Cleer not to play Hurling on the Sabbath, when they refused he turned all of them to stone as a warning to others. Bronze Age Long Stones (Mênhirs) are relatively common with the district of Penwith boasting almost 90 instances. The most famous being The Pipers (near Boleigh); The Blind Fiddler (near Sancreed); Tremenheer (near St. Keverne) and Boslow (near Pendeen). The Isles of Scilly have The Old Man of Gugh.


The best examples of Iron Age Forts; Fogous and Cliff Castles are: Castle-an-Dinas; Castle Canyke; Chapel Carn Brea; Trencrom; Chûn Castle; Castle Dore. Fogous are quite widespread with notable ones at Pendeen Vau; Boleigh; Chysauster & Porthmeor. There is a fine Iron Age village with Bronze Age Fogou at Carn Euny (OS Explorer 102 at Grid ref. SW402288) - See the Friendly Map & Guide to exploring the Land's End Peninsula for a plan of the site and more information. Also check out the site of Bodrifty Iron Age Settlement, near Newmill, Penzance (OS Explorer 102 at Grid ref. SW445355) and Halangy Down Village on St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly. The following are Iron Age Cliff Castles: Trevelgue; Rumps Point; Maen Cliff Castle; Treryn Dinas; Kelsey Head and Gurnard's Head. Iron Age cemeteries have been discovered at Harlyn Bay; Chysauster and Porthmeor.

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