Chambered long barrow known as Lanyon Quoit


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Centred on NGR SW 42974 33677


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

Location Description:
Centred on NGR SW 42974 33677
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A chambered long barrow of Neolithic date beside a road in an area of open ground which is an extensive relict landscape of prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date.

Reasons for Designation

The chambered long barrow known as Lanyon Quoit, West Penwith, is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: despite reconstruction, this complex site is considered to hold extensive archaeological potential relating to its use and the landscape in which it is located; * Rarity: Lanyon Quoit is an unusual and rare example of a hybrid monument which combines both a chambered tomb and a long barrow; * Potential: the tomb will contribute to our understanding of the social organisation and burial practices of the county’s Neolithic population; * Group value: with other scheduled monuments nearby that collectively form a relict prehistoric landscape.


Megalithic chambered long barrows are funerary and ritual monuments of earthen or drystone mounds with flanking ditches of the Early and Middle Neolithic periods (3400-2400 BC). The simple portal dolmen form of three or four uprights and a capstone resting on top, have not been precisely dated but are considered on account of their simplicity to be the earliest type. Excavations within these monuments have revealed human bone, early pottery and struck flint work. Recent analysis indicates that the major phase of the site could be as brief as 10 to 30 years, however, there is often evidence for much longer use before and after construction. Megalithic chambered tombs are most common in Scotland and Wales, but are also found in those parts of England with ready access to the large stones and boulders from which they are constructed, especially the Cotswolds, the South-West, and Kent; in many cases the stone chambers are today devoid of their covering mounds. The antiquarian Borlase in 1740 was the first to describe Lanyon Quoit, though it was Hencken in 1932 who identified these remains as being those of a long barrow. During the C18 an excavation beneath the capstone located a grave containing black earth. Borlase’s 1769 ground plan and elevation show the original form. It consisted of four slender orthostats, in parallel, the long axis of each orientated north-west to south-east and arranged in a rough line running north-south along the length of the capstone. Three of these supported the capstone which was then 14.3m (47ft) in circumference, and 2.5m (8ft) above the ground. Borlase and Lukis also record one or more cists within the mound, one of these contained charcoal and bone. The stones fell during a storm in 1815 and were re-erected in 1824 but some were broken and it was not set up again in its original form. Even the covering stone is said to have been replaced upside down. Lukis’ plan of 1879 shows a completely different arrangement of uprights in the reconstruction and the capstone is now only about 1.5m above the ground. When comparing the current plan and the Borlase plan, only one of the former orthostats can possibly be in its original position. Barratt in 1982 drew a plan of the mound, with three cists in the south eastern corner of the mound, and three pits on the north-south axis; one to the north of the orthostats and the others towards the cists.


Principal Elements The monument is located close to a road in an area of open ground that is an extensive relict landscape of prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date. This chambered long barrow comprises four granite upright stones, three of which support a large capstone which lies at the northern end of low 30m mound orientated north to south. At the southern end are the remains of three cists.

Description The chambered Neolithic long barrow has a 5.8m long capstone of granite, that is possibly upside-down after being re-erected in 1824 following the collapse of the monument in 1815 in which part of it broke off. The three supporting orthostats are also of granite raising the capstone c.1.5m above the mound. Below the capstone there is a recumbent granite stone broken in two, and a low upright stone. All four orthostats have also been moved from their original position during the 1824 reconstruction. There is another stone that may form part of this structure or a cist, located south-east of this main structure, on the edge of the mound. The orthostats and capstone are located towards the northern end of a low north-south mound. This mound has three shallow pits on the main axis, one lying to the north of the orthostats. The two pits to the south have the remains of three granite cists located to the east of them towards the edge of the mound. The mound that these structures are built into is low, damaged and has ill-defined edges in some places, it is approximately 27m long and 12m wide. The pits and irregular edge to the mound are probably the result of antiquarian excavation and the removal of stone for the construction of field walls 10m to the south. Antiquarians mention charcoal and bone being found in the cists suggesting that despite disturbance to the site there will be significant buried deposits surviving related to the cists and the orthostats.


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

Legacy System number:
CO 3
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, Prehistoric Cornwall: The Ceremonial Monuments, (1982)
Borlase, W, Parochial Memoranda, (1740)
Borlase, W, Antiquities of Cornwall, (1769)
Borlase, W C, Naenia Cornubiae, (1872)
Daniel, G E, Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of England and Wales, (1950)
Hencken, H O'N, The Archaeology of Cornwall and Scilly, (1932)
Lukis, W C, Borlase, W C, Prehistoric Stone Monuments of Cornwall, (1885)


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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