A holed stone known as 'The Tolvan Stone' at Tolvan Cross


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


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1006754.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 01-Mar-2021 at 02:04:03.


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 70626 27707

Reasons for Designation

Holed stones are both unusual and rare objects, thought to have originally formed part of the entrance passages to megalithic portal dolmens providing access to the burial chamber within a mound. The chamber itself would also originally have been stone built and such structures are thought to date to the Early and Middle Neolithic period (3500 - 2600 BC), although many were re-used in later periods. Only approximately 20 portal dolmens are known nationally and these are concentrated in west Penwith, Cornwall. As a result they are extremely rare and ancient. Several holed stones are known from Cornwall. 'The Tolvan' at Tolvan Cross is the largest and, despite not being in its original location, it is still a rare and remarkable survival which gave its name to a whole local estate indicating the esteem in which it was held. The recorded local tradition for healing also adds to its interest.


The monument includes a holed stone known as The Tolvan Stone, situated on a ridge forming the watershed between the valleys of two tributaries to the Helford River. The holed stone survives as a slightly leaning earthfast triangular stone measuring approximately 2.3m high, 2.3m wide at the base and 0.3m thick. It is completely pierced by a circular hole of about 0.4m in diameter. When it was moved to its present location in a garden in 1847, it was 2.6m high and 2.7m wide but was cut to make some gateposts. Close to the original position of the stone, a 1.5m diameter stone-lined circular pit containing quartz stones and some pottery is said to have been found, along with a trough like stone called the 'Cradle' which has since been destroyed. The Tolvan derived from 'Tol- vean' meaning holed stone gave its name to the whole estate of Tolvean and is mentioned in a survey of 1649 referred to as the 'Main-toll great stone'. A local tradition recorded in 1885 indicated that sick children were passed through the hole in the stone in the hopes of curing their ailments. A nearby barrow is scheduled separately.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-427073


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

Legacy System number:
CO 14
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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].