Portal dolmen called Sperris Quoit


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 47100 38253

Reasons for Designation

Portal dolmens are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early and Middle Neolithic period, the dated examples showing construction in the period 3500- 2600 BC. As burial monuments of Britain's early farming communities, they are among the oldest visible field monuments to survive in the present landscape. Where sufficiently well-preserved, they comprise a small closed rectangular chamber built from large stone slabs, with free-standing stones flanking the frontal slab of the chamber. A capstone, often massive, covers the chamber, and some examples show traces of a low cairn or platform around the chamber. Some sites have traces of a kerb around the cairn and certain sites show a forecourt area, edged by a facade of upright stones in a few examples. Little is yet known about the form of the primary burial rites. At the few excavated sites, pits and postholes have been recorded within and in front of the chamber, containing charcoal and cremated bone; some chamber contents of soil and stones may be original blocking deposits. Many portal dolmens were re- used for urned cremations, especially during the Middle Bronze Age. Only about 20 portal dolmens are known nationally, concentrated in west Penwith, Cornwall, and in the north-west Oxfordshire Cotswolds, with a scatter between these. Despite partial excavation, the portal dolmen called Sperris Quoit survives comparatively well. The limited scale of these excavations mean further archaeological and environmental evidence will be retained relating to its construction, re-use, funerary and ritual practices, territorial significance, social organisation and overall landscape context.


The monument includes a portal dolmen, situated on the north east side of the rocky hill of Zennor Carn. The portal dolmen survives as one earthfast upright stone standing approximately 1m high, three recumbent stones and a partially buried stone stump with traces of a surrounding stony mound measuring up to 12m in diameter. First recorded by Borlase, when its capstone was still in place, it was later noted by Henderson in the 1920's. Partial excavations by Thomas and Wailes in 1954 found the centre had been badly disturbed, although they were able to record that the chamber had been formed by five orthostats, two standing, two fallen and one reduced to a stump which were arranged like a 'house of cards stacked together' all set into a circular cairn. A small cremation pit was found just outside the chamber, in a probable antechamber. This was interpreted as a dedication deposit which predated the erection of the main chamber. Finds included flints and Early and Middle Bronze Age pottery.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-423208


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
CO 718
Legacy System:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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