Situated on moorland near to Pendeen and Morvah in Cornwall, Chun Quoit is one of the best preserved examples of what is believed to be an ancient burial site dating back nearly 2,500 years. It was most likely surrounded by a ’round barrow,’ (hemispherical mounds of earth or stone) and it consisted of a closed chamber with a mushroomed shaped capstone. On top of the capstone is a ‘cup mark’ which is a form of prehistoric art. This form of artwork is mainly found in Atlantic Europe and in England it occurs mainly in the north. The exact meaning of these cup marks is not known and many theories have been suggested. Dating can prove difficult because they can be added to a monument at a later period.
Chun Quoit is supported by four large stone slabs and there is evidence that there was once an entrance to the south east located within the mound area. In 1871, the monument and site around it was examined by archaeologists but no significant finds were unearthed. In the general location of Chun Quoit, there are several other sites of archaeological interest including, Lanyon Quoit and Mulfra Quoit.
Chun Quoit is the only one to retain its capstone in situ. All other quoits have had to be resettled. It is believed to date back to around 2400 BC, which is two millennia before the nearby Chun Castle was built. It is thought that the quoit was used for burials although no human remains have ever been discovered. This is not unusual as it is almost unknown in Cornwall for artefacts or human remains to be found at the site of ancient quoits that are located on acidic moorland soil which is known to break down bones over time.
Comparison has been made with similar sites in other parts of the country and it is thought that the Chun Quoit might have been used as a ‘repository’ for safeguarding ancestral remains. Evidence that has been taken from Neolithic tombs in Wessex show that it was common Neolithic practise for bones to be removed from burial tombs and returned at a later date. This might have been because the bones were being used in ancestral rites by associated cults. Communities were being established and people were starting to form settlements around this period and it is possible that this sort of ritual was to claim ‘ancestral ownership’ of land.
Many quoits are situated in areas where there are panoramic views. It is believed this played a part in strengthening and securing the land all around the geographic location of where the monument stands.
The site is highly respected as a place of worship and visitors are asked to act accordingly. There is a public pathway that takes visitors up the hill to the monument and there is a small car park below.
A few hundred yards east of the quoit stands Chun Castle and a pathway takes visitors from the quoit to the castle, signposted by a white painted boulder.
According to folklore, the castle was built by Jack of the Hammer also known as ‘Jack the Tinner,’ a travelling tin prospector who visited west Penwith and killed a local giant.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
B3306 (Rd), Penzance
Cornwall, England, TR19 6JB
+44 (0)1736 871 588
- Address: Trehyllys Farm Path, Newbridge, Penzance, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, TR20 8NR
- GPS: 50.14866667,-5.637716667
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: TR20 8NR
- Entrance Fees: Free access
- Disabled Access: Very poor / Dirt incline paths
- Visibility from Road: None
- Image Credits: Header Image: Paul Nash