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Cornwall's Cultural Heritage

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Cultural Heritage

Ballowall Barrow situated on the cliff-top at Ballowall Common, Nr. St. Just

Ballowall Barrow is a unique Bronze Age tomb with a long and complex history as a sacred site in a spectacular cliff-edge position. Discovered by W. C. Borlase in 1878 and revealed a funerary monument. In the centre of the barrow was a mound surrounded by two concentric drystone walls. Contained within it were five small stone-lined chambers, known as cists some with Bronze Age pottery and burnt bone. The central mound was surrounded by a stone platform, or apron, and two more cists were built against it. The apron incorporates an entrance grave which contained Bronze Age pottery and cremated bone. After the excavation Borlase built stone walls to display important features of the barrow, creating a circular passage between the central mound and apron. This radically altered the appearance of the site.

Botallack Count House, between St. Just and Pendeen.

Botallack Count House was built during the 1860's at the height of the Cornish mining boom and stands on the cliffs near the Crowns Mine. It was the hub of the day-to-day running of the mine and also where the miners collected their pay. The Crown Mines, former tin mines, are low down the cliffs north of Botallack, there are two engine houses and the mine extends down for about 400 metres under the Atlantic Ocean and the deepest shaft is about 500 metres below sea level.

Men-an-Tol Standing Stones, Madron, Nr. Penzance

Men-an-Tol is a small formation of four standing stones known locally as the 'Crick Stone' or 'holed stone' which is believed to have been in this position since the bronze age on the moors of West Cornwall, about three miles north west of Madron. The holed stone is flanked by two upright stones and a fallen stone. There is a wealth of folklore surrounding these stones but it was renowned for curing ailments by passing the sufferer through the hole and it is also likely that it was part of a ritual or ceremonial activity. When viewed from one angle to the side, the stones form a three-dimensional 101 and are about 300 metres to the North from other stones in the vicinity which include 'Men Scryfa' - 'the inscribed stone' - and the 'Boskednan stone circle' or 'Nine Maidens' to the North East.

Men Scryfa Standing Stone, Madron, Nr. Penzance

Men Scryfa means 'stone with writing' and is a short walk from Men-an-Tol. It is two metres high and the early Christian writing on the menhir reads Rialobrani Cunovali Fili meaning Rialobran - son of Cunoval - a local king. The writing dates back to 500 AD and the stone marks a grave.

Boskednan Stone Circle or Nine Maidens, Madron, Nr. Penzance

Men-an-Tol, Men Scryfa and Boskednan Stone Circle are all close together. This one is in moorland to the South East of Carn Galver and is a circle of 11 stones but 2 have fallen and was probably a perfect circle previously. In 1848 some urns were found in the vicinity of the stone circle and in 1872 the remains of a barrow and a stone lined burial chamber or cist were found. the urn by the cist was Trevisker Ware (from the type site north of Newquay) and was covered with chevron designs which dates the barrow back to the early Bronze Age. The ground is usually very wet and boggy here. Barrow means long mound of earth and stones raised over a grave usually for a number of burials.

Merry Maidens, St. Buryan

Merry Maidens is two miles south of St. Buryan adjacent to the B3315 Newlyn to Treen Road and is granite megalith stones also known as 'Dawn's Men' or 'Dans Maen' which can be translated from the Cornish as the 'dancing stones'. There are 19 perfectly circular stones and originally it is thought to have been only 18. Both names are associated with Cornish Stone cirles being inspired by folk tales of dancing maidens turning to stone for merrymaking on the Sabbath. A large Bronge Age barrow (cemetery) known as The Tregiffian Burial Chamber lies to the South West and excavations uncovered traces of cremated human bones from several cists together with urns and a stone spearhead.

There are also two standing stones near the Merry Maidens stone circle called The Pipers. The same legend for The Pipers here at St. Buryan and the ones on Bodmin Moor is that they were turned to stone for playing music on the Sabbath for the Merry Maidens.

Chysauster Ancient Village, Newmill, Penzance

Chysauster Ancient Village is an Iron Age settlement which was originally occupied almost 2,000 years ago. The village consists of stone-walled homesteads known as 'courtyard houses' and line a 'village street', each had an open central courtyard surrounded by a number of thatched rooms. There are also the remains of a 'fogou' which is an underground passage.

Carn Euny, Nr. Sancreed and Brane, Penwith.

Carn Euny Ancient Village is the best preserved ancient villages in the South West, occupied from the Iron Age until late Roman times. It includes the foundations of stone houses and an underground passage called a 'fogou'. Excavations on the site has shown that there was activity here as early as the Neolithic period and evidence shows that the first timber huts were built about 200 BC but by the 1st century BC these had been replaced by stone huts. It is the remains of these stone huts that are still visible today.

The Cheesewring, Nr. Liskeard on Bodmin Moor

The Cheesewring is situated on the Eastern flank of Bodmin Moor just four miles North of Liskeard. It is a 32 feet granite tor with the heaviest stones on top and smallest at the bottom! Their position is on slanting ground on Stowe's Hill and are totally top-heavy. Legend states that the Cheesewring is the result of a feud between a frail man called Saint Tue and a giant called Uther who embarked in a rock-throwing contest because it was said by the giants that the saints had invaded their land and were declaring their wells as sacred. If Uther won the saints would leave Cornwall but if Saint Tue won then the giants woould convert to Christianity. The Giant Uther threw a stone and this was matched by St. Tue and each time a stone was thrown it was matched by the other one. When twelve stones had been thrown and equally matched the Giant threw the thirteenth but it rolled down the hill so St. Tue picked it up, and with the help of angels, they carried it to the top of the pile. Seeing this Uther conceded and St. Tue was the winner. After this most of the giants decided to follow Christianity.

The Hurlers and Pipers, Nr. Liskeard on Bodmin Moor

The Hurlers site is half-a-mile west of the village of Minions on the Eastern flank of Bodmin Moor, four miles north of Liskeard and consist of three stone circles of Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age which is rare in England, and a grouping of three circles is unique. The northen circle consists of 15 original stones and excavations revealed the buried holes for a further ten now represented by marker stones. The regular spacing suggests there may well have been five more. The circle in the centre consists of 14 original and 14 marker stones. The southern circle has 9 original stones and 7 fallen ones. The introduction of cows on the moor has resulted in many of the stones falling over as cows use them as scratching posts. Legend says The Hurlers were men who were turned to stone for playing the game of hurling on a Sunday. (Hurling continues today in St. Ives in February and St. Columb Major on Shrove Tuesday).

To the west of The Hurlers is The Pipers which consists of two upright stones standing close together and are approximately 2 metres high. They are said to be figures of two musicians who played tunes on a Sunday for the three circles of dancers, The Hurlers, and suffered the same fate. There are also The Pipers, another two standing stones, at St. Buryan.

Lanyon Quoit, Nr. Penzance

Lanyon Quoit is a dolmen, which is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, and is situated 2 miles North West of Penzance on the road between Madron and Morvah 50 metres to the East of the road. It has 3 support stones which are 1.5 metres high and a capstone measuring 5.5 metres long and weighs more than 12 tons. In the 18th century the Quoit had 4 supporting stones and was tall enough for a person on horse back to ride under but on the 19th October, 1815 during a storm the Quoit fell down. 9 years later the local people had raised enough money to re-erect the structure. One of the orignal stones was so badly damaged that it was re-built using only 3.

Trethevy Quoit, St. Cleer

Trethevy Quoit or 'The Giant's House' is described as the 'Best preserved Quoit in Cornwall' and one of the most impressive of it's type in Britain. It is a Neolithic 'dolmen' burial chamber which stands 2.7 metres high and consists of 5 standing stones, surmounted by a huge capstone and surrounded by a stony mound or cairn. John Norden writing in 1584 described it as 'A little howse raised of mightie stones, standing on a little hill within a fielde'. Trethevy Quoit is signposted from a small lay-by car park in the hamlet of Trethevy between Darite and Tremar.

Carwynnen Quoit or Giant's Quoit, the Frying Pan Field, Pendarves Estate, West Cornwall

The Quoit is a 5,000 year-old neolithic structure which collapsed completely following an earth tremor in 1966 and it's stones had just lain in a heap until 2014 when a hard-working team re-built it and replaced the capstone on top in June 2014 and it is the first time that anyone had seen a capstone placed on a Cornish Quoit since it's re-erection in 1842.

Carwynnen Quoit is a portal dolmen which was used for funerary and ceremonial rites during the Neolithic period. Archaeological digs have unearthed a wealth of historical finds which include flint blades, the 'coffin stone' and prehistoric pottery.

New an online interactive map Go to the website and take a look.

Penhallam Manor, Nr. Week St. Mary

Penhallam Manor is only a low, grass-covered but complete ground-plan of a moated 13th century manor house in a delightful woodland setting. Their is NO building here.Dogs are welcome on leads and parking is available but limited.

St. Catherine's Castle, Fowey

St. Catherine's Castle was built during the reign of Henry VIII to defend the port of Fowey and is a small fort situated at the entrance to Fowey harbour. Lovely views up the river and across to Polruan. Dogs must be kept on leads and park at Ready Money Cove Car Park at Fowey and it is a three quarters of a mile walk. Free to look around.

Arthurian Centre, Slaughterbridge, Camelford.

Visitors can walk through the fields where King Arthur and Mordred met for their last battle, read about the legends and the history in the exhibition room, perhaps you would like to watch a video on the site and legends, watch brass rubbing, enjoy a children's quiz, go on a nature trail, look around the gift shop and play castle's. Find out what links King Arthur to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Shrek. See 'Lady Falmouth's Secret Garden' and lots more.


Bude Canal Walk it, paddle it or fish it! Also there is an historic working sea lock that you can watch being opened and closed manually.

Enjoy a visit to the old haunts of Reverend Hawker, visit Hawker's Hut at Morwenstow. It is the smallest National Trust property in the UK. Reverend Hawker is probably best known for his poems which we wrote in his little hut close to the cliffs which was built entirely of driftwood. He wrote 'The Song of the Western Men' which is now the Cornish Anthem.

Billy Bray's Chapel, Kerley Downs, Chacewater, Nr. Truro.

This is the last remaining, out of 3 chapels built by Billy Bray 1794 - 1868. He was a renowned Cornish tin miner and local Methodist preacher. There are several services held throughout the year here and the chapel contains pictures, information and memorabilia.

Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre

The Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre holds the largest private collection of this type of Shipwreck and historical artefacts on public display in Europe. It has been put together over the last 45 to 50 years which includes items from a bygone age and artefacts from our 150 shipwrecks. Life in the village of Charlestown is reflected in the exhibitions, it's history, shipwrecks and the once thriving China Clay industry. Maritime history dating back to 1715 and also one of the largest underwater diving equipment in the country is on display. Don't miss The Titanic Exhibition on display and there is also a Kids Corner with Kids I Spy Trail and Colouring Sheets.

East Pool Mine, Poor, Nr. Redruth

In the heart of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site these two beam engines which were originally powered by high-pressure steam boilers introduced by local hero Richard Trevithick. The pumping engine is one of the largest surviving Cornish beam engines in the world and the restored winding engine can be seen in action each day. Enjoy the films, displays, models and discover the whole Cornish mining story.

Check their website for opening times.

Geevor Tin Mine, Pendeen, Penzance

A Cornish day out in the far West of Cornwall, Underground Tours, Hard Rock Mining Museum and Shop. The largest preserved mine site in the country, the key centre within the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site! Explore the Hard Rock museum with its interactive displays, mineral gallery, artefacts and oral histories. Watch the Geevor film in our cinema and see our latest exhibition ‘Plans and Sections – Mapping Geevor’s Underground’ in our exhibition gallery.

Check their website for opening times.

Gwennap Pit, Nr. Redruth

Gwennap Pit is an open air amphitheatre made famous by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. It has remarkable acoustic properties and became the favourite of John Wesley when he was taken to it in 1762. He described it as 'a round green hollow'. He was to preach there on 18 occasions between 1762 and 1789.

Hayle Heritage Centre

Hayle Heritage and Cultural Centre houses a free exhibition that enables visitors to learn about the history of Hayle including a yearly programme of exhibitions, events and workshops giving visitors a chance to explore Hayle's history in more detail.

Check their website for opening times.

Heartlands at Pool, Redruth

Heartlands is a FREE visitor attraction and World Heritage Site Gateway in Cornwall. Nestled just off the A30 in Pool, near Redruth in the former mining heart of Cornwall, there are 19 acres of eclectic fun to explore. State-of-the-art exhibitions, climb-on sculptures, gardens of real diversity, a giant adventure playscape for kids, art and craft studios and a unique café in the old carpenter’s workshop. With swathes of green outdoor space for warm, sunny days and ever-curious indoor space when it’s wet, Heartlands is all-year round, all-weather entertainment for everyone.

Set in the shadow of an iconic Cornish engine house, Heartlands has brought the former derelict mining landscape at Robinson’s Shaft back to life through a £35 million project, thanks to a mammoth amount of hard work, the support and imagination of the local community and some generous funding from the Big Lottery Living Landmark programme (£22.3 million), European Union, Cornwall Council and the Homes and Community agency. Heartlands has something for everyone.

Check their website for opening times.

King Arthur's Great Halls, Tintagel

King Arthur's Great Halls were built by a millionaire in the 1930's and is the only indoor attraction in the world dedicated to the Arthurian legend. There are 72 stained glass windows which tells the story and show the Coats of Arms and weapons of the knights. See the round table and granite throne as have been featured in many of our television programmes. King Arthur's legend is brought to life with laser lights, music and a narration by Robert Powell. Open until November.

Kind Edward Mine Museum

To get a real insight into Cornish Mining visit King Edward Mine and you will see and hear about the true mining past of Camborne and Redruth. The site is full of history and atmosphere, most of the site is undercover so what better place to visit even on a rainy day. Helpful Guides are available.

Check their website for opening times.

Lawrence House Museum, Launceston

Built in 1753 Lawrence House is leased to Launceston Town Council and used as a local museum and civic cenetre. Spread over three floors and focusus on local history including Launceston's association with Australia. There is a toy room for the children and a victorian kitchen that features an original range cooker and mangle. There are also displays of costumes dating back to the eighteenth century right through to the 1960's.

Check their website for opening times.

Lizard Lighthouse and Heritage Centre

Cornwall's only Lighthouse open to the public. Climb the 260 year old lighthouse tower, power up and sound the foghorn, find out about the weather and complete a log book, send a Morse Code message, build a lighthouse, learn about semaphore and signal flags, discover all about Safety at Sea, identify the shapes, colours and markings of buoys, listen to Lighthouse Keepers' stories, track ships and lots more.

Check their website for opening times.

Levant Mine and Beam Engine, Trewellard, Pendeen, Nr. St. Just

A unique Cornish steam-powered beam engine, the only one in the world that is still in steam on its original mine site. It is housed in a small engine house perched on the edge of the cliffs. It was restored after 60 years of being idle so see this old engine working with its sounds and smells!

For family entertainment pick up your explorer pack at reception and get exploring. Look for bugs, do some rock rubbings, look at the sea and sky with binoculars, draw and colour your own treasure map and use a compass, try your hand at geocaching with a GPS device from Reception which you can use to set off on a trail around the site on the search for minerals, bugs and buildings.

Check their website for opening times.

Newlyn Archive, The Centre, Newlyn

The Newlyn Archive is material about Newlyn collected to preserve, store and share stories, documents and pictures relating to the history of Newlyn from years ago until today.

Check their website for opening times.

National Maritime Museum, Falmouth

The Museum’s purpose is to engage; to entertain; to collect and research our maritime heritage; and to provide enjoyment. All our major projects involve partners in some way or other: individuals and organisations, some local, many from further afield. We always try to think differently and do more for less.

15 Galleries illustrate the past, present and future of the United Kingdom.

Check their website for opening times.

Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing

The Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing is located in The Warren overlooking Polperro Harbour and houses a remarkable collection of exhibits and photographs from the 19th century and also memorabilia from the 18th century when smuggling and fishing thrived in Polperro. Open from March to October.

Check their website for opening times.

Poldark Mine, Trenear, Wendron, Helston

The Poldark Mine is a unique prehistoric World Heritage Site with a Scheduled Ancient Monument, open-air Museum and Gardens. Until 1886 tin was produced at Poldark from the rich tin bearing alluvials of the River Cober and from its own and local mines. Today Poldark offers a gentle introduction into the rich mining heritage of Cornwall and the unique social history of the Cornish Tin Miners. The underground tin mine, the only complete underground tin mine in the UK, is open to the public and a wealth of information and artefacts offers the visitor a range of activities and a small museum containing a wealth of unique objects.

Check their website for opening times.

Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

One of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets, the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno offers a surprising and inspiring visit time and time again. With hours of endless fun on offer, the Museum is well worth a visit. Be prepared to be amazed, no matter what your age…

Since 1870, messages from all corners of the world have been buzzing through undersea cables and arriving in Porthcurno. Step into this awe-inspiring past, and discover Porthcurno’s role in shaping global communication. The museum's shop and cafe are free to visit with a frequently changing menu and focusses on locally-sourced ingredients with smoked meats from St. Ives, Cornish Cheeses and Newlyn fish.

Check their website for opening times.

South West Coast Path

Combine a scenic train journey in Cornwall with a great walk along the Coast Path over a varying number of days. Each one takes in different mainline stations and branch lines. If you want just a day trip then take a look at the 'Days out by Train'. In West Cornwall your choices are Penzance to Falmouth. St. Ives to Penzance. North Cornwall offers Newquay to Penzance. Bude to Newquay. Padstow to St. Ives. Newquay to St. Ives. South East Cornwall offers Looe to Plymouth. Falmouth to Par. Falmouth to Looe.

People with limited mobility or with pushchairs can now enjoy previous impassable sections of the Coast Path to include new improved surface and path made wider in the Stile Field at Padstow, wheelchair and pushchair access has been improved at Port Isaac, Treyarnon Bay, North Tehidy Country Park and the Penrose Estate.

Tintagel Old Post Office

A medieval building enchanced by a cottage garden acquired by the National Trust in 1903. An unusual 14th-century yeoman's farmhouse, full of atmosphere with a wavy slate roof and 600 years of history to explore. In the Victorian era it briefly had a licence to be the letter receiving station for the area. View the victorian postal equipment, samplers and furniture dating back too the 16th century.

Check their website for opening times.

Wheal Martyn, Carthew, St. Austell

The UK's only China Clay Museum and Country Park. 26 acres of woodland walks, nature trails, Cornwall's largest waterwheel, Victorian clay works, Interactive displays, Vintage commercial vehicles, Licensed Cafe and Gift Shop plus much more. Dogs on leads welcome, free parking.

Check their website for opening times.

Wesley Cottage, Trewint, Nr. Launceston

Wesley Cottage is where John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preached and rested. A unique visitor experience in an 18th Century Cottage and Chapel and thought to be the smalles Methodist Preaching place in the world. Light refreshments normally available.