Historic Past




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Quoits are typically comprised of large standing stones supporting a heavy capstone.The dimensions of these stones meant that the weight was immense, requiring many people to be involved in their construction. These structures must have had great importance. Quoits is the term used in Cornwall but they are also know as dolmens or cromlechs.

Quoits were probably covered by a mound. The soil has been removed over the millennium via natural processes or robbed of stone by man. For effect, the capstone may have been left showing above the mound, together with an entrance for religious ceremonies.

There are some quoits, eg. Chun Quoit, that do not seem to have been built for the purpose of entering the chamber. These have the supporting stones set in a closed box format.


Zennor Quoit  SW469380

Zennor Quoit was once a very fine example of a quoit surrounded by a stone barrow 14 yards in diameter. Regrettably the stone was conviently sized for building, as such was robbed of it, little evidence of the barrow remains today. Over the years the quoit has suffered. The capstone has slipped, while a supporting stone was removed by a local farmer for use in his cart shed. It is only by good luck that Zennor Quoit was not been completely removed by the farmer for its stone. The local vicar heard of the destruction in progress and paid the farmer to desist.

Providentially in the eighteenth century when the quoit was intact Dr Borlase described and provided detailed drawings of it.

Zennor Quoit before it's collapse. Naenia Cornuble WC Borlase 1872.

Zennor Quoit before it's collapse. From Dr. Borlase's Antiquities of Cornwall.

Zennor is a portal quoit, it had a small porch at its entrance, seeming to have been built for the purpose of entering the chamber. More interesting is that there was an antechamber with an even smaller entrance.

Over the years excavations of the quoit have found ancient remains such as pottery.

Zennor Quoit


Lanyon Quoit   SW430337

Lanyon Quoit is a very impressive structure, but it is not a true historical representation. Originally it was taller, of sufficient height for a horseman to sit under. Its capstone had an original circumference of 47 feet, however a piece has since been broken off. This size together with an average thickness of 20 inches made the capstone extremely heavy. Unfortunately its capstone and one of its supporting stones collapsed in 1815. These were re-erected in 1824 but were not put back in their original position.

Lanyon Quoit before it's collapse. Naenia Cornuble WC Borlase 1872.

Lanyon Quoit before it's collapse. From Dr. Borlase's Antiquities of Cornwall.

In the mid eighteenth century, the landowner had a dream which led him to have the quoit excavated. A six foot deep pit was dug and a grave was found of which no recordings survive. The quoit was further disturbed more than once. All these disturbances together with the extreme weight of the capstone was probably the reason why it collapsed after standing for thousands of years, rather than the accepted explanation of a severe storm.

Lanyon Quoit

Lanyon Quoit

Lanyon Quoit is the highest visited quoit, and easily the most accessible, being only 50 meters from the road. If visiting Lanyon Quoit it is well worthwhile to also investigate the surrounding area. Just by looking at the ordinance survey map one can see there are other prehistoric sites in close proximity to the quoit. There is the remnants of a second quoit close by, West Lanyon Quoit, however this is on private land.


Chun Quoit  SW402339

Chun Quoit is the best preserved quoit in Penwith. Its structure is still true and has not changed since its construction. It is located on high ground just below Chun Castle.

The capstone is supported by four standing stones. Together these standing stones form a good example of a closed box quoit. The internal chamber can be entered, but it is a squeeze.

Chun Quoit has been excavated, but there have been no finds of consequence.

Chun Quoit

Chun Quoit


Mulfra Quoit  SW453354

Mulfra is a closed box quoit. The capstone has collapsed and currently leans on the supporting stones. Currently there are three supporting stones but appears that originally there were four.

The Quoit was initially surrounded by a two foot high stone barrow of 120 feet in circumference. The barrow suffered from stone robbing and now only vestiges of a round barrow exist.

Mulfra Quoit has been excavated, but there are no finds of consequence.


Mulfra Quoit

Mulfra Quoit







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