Neolithic Chambered Tomb
Zennor, Cornwall OS Map Ref SW468380
OS Maps - Landranger 203 (Land's End & Isles of Scilly), Explorer 102 (Lands End)
Zennor Quoit - view of the collapsed capstone and side of the chamber in 1997.
Front view showing the massive facade stones on either
side of the chamber.
|The remains of
this hillside Neolithic
portal tomb are quite difficult to find, but can be reached via a footpath
from the B3306. The capstone
which is over 5 metres long and weighs over 10 tons has collapsed and all
traces of the mound which would have covered the tomb has disappeared although
much surrounding cairn
material was recorded by William Borlase the vicar of Zennor in 1769. It
is Borlase we have to thank for the continuing existence of Zennor Quoit
as he once paid off a local farmer the sum of 5 shillings to stop him dismantling
the tomb to build a cow shed. It is unclear whether it was the farmers attempt
at remodeling or the 'excavation' of the tomb with explosives in the 19th
century that caused the capstone to fall. At various times cremated bones,
and Neolithic pottery have been found within the chamber, while the 5 small
upright stones just beyond the tomb are thought to be part of the aborted
The site may look to be in a sad state of disrepair, especially on a wet, windy day, but this could be said to add to its beauty and melancholy, and it is still well worth a visit. Like many other sites legend says it was built by a giant, hence its other name of Giants Quoit and also that the stones are unmovable, or if they are moved they will return to the hillside on their own. Nearby, the church at Zennor contains a 15th century bench-end carved into the shape of a mermaid that is claimed to have visited the village and fallen in love with the churchwarden's son. The two of them are then said to have returned to the sea, where the unfortunate lad can still be heard singing beneath the waves.
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