Cornwall's ancient monuments

5 to try: Cornwall's ancient monuments

There are thousands of fascinating ancient monuments dotted around Cornwall.

Men an Tol - West Cornwall



Shaped like a very large Polo Mint, this ancient structure simply goes to show how far back Cornwall’s heritage stretches. Built around 3,000 years ago on the windswept moors of west Cornwall, Men-an-Tol is flanked by two upright stones and although likely to have once been a porthole stone to a long lost burial vault, has had its status elevated for its supposed curative powers. Legend had it that a crick in the body could be cured by crawling nine times through the hole and attracting children suffering from rickets for centuries. 

Address: Penzance, Cornwall TR20 8NU (please note approx. location only)

Merry Maidens - near Penzance

The group of 19 stones positioned in a large circle near Lands End are said to have once been 19 pretty maidens on their way to Sunday vespers. As the tale goes, they were distracted by the playing of The Pipers a quarter of a mile in the distance and strayed into a field full of high spirits to laugh and dance to their music. As a mighty thunderbolt struck the maidens and pipers were transfixed to the spot where they now forever stand, turned to stone for the sin of dancing on The Sabbath Day.

Address: Penzance, Cornwall TR19 6BQ

The Hurlers of St Cleer - Near Liskeard



Not far from Liskeard stands another group of stones that also serve as a stern warning against fun and games on the Sabbath Day. The Hurlers are the remnants of three stone circles whose original purpose was probably Druidical but is now lost in the mists of time. Many centuries ago, at the height of popularity for the ancient game of hurling, the folk of St Cleer went against the word of local saint and priest, St Cleer himself, and played on a Sunday. In a fit of anger St Cleer brought an abrupt end to the sinful game turning the players to stone and leaving them forever on the wastes of Craddock Moor.

Nearest Address: Minions, Cornwall, PL14 5LW 

Lanyon Quoit - near St Ives

As one of the best-known Cornish quoits the Lanyon Quoit makes is situated on the road from Madron to Morvah. Lanyon Quiot collapsed during a storm in 1815 - damaging one of the upright stones. The local residents rebuilt the site in 1824 using the remaining three of the original four uprights. The resulting quoit is considerably lower than the original, which until the 18th century it was possible to sit on horseback below it. William Borlase's Antiquities of Cornwall shows that in 1769 it was still possible to ride a horse underneath the capstone. The original structure is believed to have been erected 2500 BCE.There are a number of other barrows close to Lanyon Quoit, with a longstone located about 90m (100 yards) to the north-west. At the south end of the mound rounding the quoit, there are the remains of a number of stone burial boxes or cists. These may have been part of a single elongated mound with the quoit, or separate later additions to the site. 

Closest Address: Near Morvah, Penzance, TR20 8NU

Nine Maidens - near Wadebridge



It would be fair to think that this row of standing stones near Wadebridge consists of 9 stones but a quick count throws a mysterious veil over the name as the current number of stones stands at 11 and is thought to have originally included up to 20. As well as its name, the legend of the Nine Maidens is also shrouded in mystery but is said to resemble the Merry Maidens' tale by depicting maidens cast into stone for the unforgivable sin of dancing on a Sabbath day.

Address: Redruth, Cornwall TR16 6ND

Do you know any other special ancient monuments in Cornwall, or have a favourite? Let us know by commenting via Facebook below...