The remains of the Chapel of St Ia and adjacent cell

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1441204
Date first listed:
03-Apr-2017
Location Description:
177m NW of Chytodden Farm, The Reen Valley, Troon, Cornwall

Map

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Location

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

Location Description:
177m NW of Chytodden Farm, The Reen Valley, Troon, Cornwall
District:
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Camborne
National Grid Reference:
SW6582238160, SW6583738169

Summary

The monument includes a chapel in a wooded valley known as The Reens, and has three principal construction phases, dating initially from the C10. It stands on the E slope of the valley stream, and is a rectangular structure on a roughly E-to-W alignment. The remains of an associated cell is located on the opposite side of the stream at the base of Reen Rock outcrop, on a NW to SE alignment.

Reasons for Designation

The remains of the Chapel of St Ia and adjacent cell are scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: the site retains significant standing and buried archaeological remains that represent the chapel’s three principal phases; * Period: the chapel has pre-conquest origins, a period that is less well understood than later phases of church construction; * Documentation: the documentary evidence has been enhanced by the 1960s archaeological excavation which provides evidence of the evolution and changing function of this site; * Potential: the site has the potential to further contribute to our understanding of the development of pre- and post-conquest chapel building, as well as the practice of Christianity in rural Cornwall during the medieval period.

History

The chapel is believed to have been built next to an existing holy well or spring. There are various post-medieval references to the chapel and the 'holy well' known as Fenton-Ia; however the exact location of the water outlet is unclear. It may relate to the valley stream that runs next to the chapel, or a nearby natural spring which is no longer visible. A mid-C20 excavation also revealed a possible well within the floor of the chapel remains. The chapel and spring were dedicated to St Ia, an Irish saint living in the C5 or C6 who journeyed to Cornwall and was martyred in Hayle; she also gave her name to the town of St Ives.

The excavation in 1966 indicated that the chapel was initially a small square structure with a stone base, possibly topped by a timber superstructure (no evidence of this upper stage survives). There is little dateable evidence for this earliest phase, but it may be contemporary with a C10 standing cross which was recorded standing adjacent to the chapel in the C18. Local tradition attributes a carved C10 stone known as the Leuiut stone to being the chapel's original alter frontal. Sometime in the late C19 both the cross and the stone were re-located to Camborne parish church. The second phase of the chapel's development resulted in its complete rebuilding on a slightly different alignment. Pottery shards and ridge tiles recovered during the excavation and associated with this phase have been stylistically dated to the C12. During the C13 the building was substantially enlarged to the E and is likely to have served as a chapel of ease for residents of Troon. Associated finds from this phase include a patterned ridge tile with an attached small free-standing cross motif. Other finds include a large number of C12 and C13 pottery sherds associated with the second and third phases. The chapel was licensed in 1429. The 1535-1657 churchwardens' account book for the Parish Church of St Martin and St Meriadoc, Camborne refers to St Ia, along with several other chapels and their associated guilds that contributed money to the parish church. The chapel is believed to have been abandoned following the Reformation, and the ruins of the site were recorded in an account of 1750. The site of the chapel was recorded in 1962 and it was excavated in 1966.

To the W of the chapel is a detached cell which is undated. It has been suggested it may be the remains of a hermitage associated with the holy well, and predating the chapel. However, it could also have been an ancillary structure associated with the chapel.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The monument includes a chapel in a wooded valley known as The Reens, and has three principal construction phases, dating initially from the C10. It stands on the E slope of the valley stream, and is a rectangular structure on a roughly E-to-W alignment. The remains of an associated cell is located on the opposite side of the stream at the base of Reen Rock outcrop, on a NW to SE alignment.

DESCRIPTION The 1966 excavation of the chapel uncovered evidence for a rectangular masonry structure with three principal phases of construction. The enclosure measures c3.6m wide by 10m long, centred on SW6583638168, with walls standing between 1-3m high. Evidence of remains associated with the first phase of construction were uncovered at the base of the W wall. The second phase of construction, with walls of granite and uncoursed metamorphic stone, has been built at a slightly different angle, measuring 3.6m N-S and c5m E-W. On the N side of the building are the remains of C12 granite door jambs and a window lintel. The third and final phase saw a significant enlargement eastwards by 4.5m with the E wall cutting into the sloping bedrock. A revetment at the base of the W wall dates to the final phase of rebuilding. The walls relating to the third phase are constructed of roughly-coursed, horizontally-laid blocks of granite and internally there are fragments of lime wash with evidence of painted motifs. Within the S wall are the remains of a C13 doorway and a window. Internally, next to the W end wall is what has been described as the infilled remains of the possible C10 well. At the E end are the remains of a C13 masonry ledge that incorporates two benches flanking a central altar, and a later chancel platform. There is evidence of another partial platform on the N side. The W end of the chapel stands at the top of a gully; it is c1.8m deep and 5m wide, and slopes down to the river. Since the excavation the site has become covered in vegetation, with only the top sections of walls still exposed.

13m to the SW of the chapel, on the opposite side of the stream and at the base of the Reen Rock outcrop, is a detached cell (centred on SW6582238160) which survives as a ruin. Two and half sides of the structure remain visible above ground in the form of low granite walls. Other evidence associated with the structure is considered to survive as buried archaeological deposits.

Sources

Books and journals
Orme, N, Cornwall and The Cross Christianity 500-1560 , (2007)
Orme, N, The Saints of Cornwall, (2002), 144
Thomas, C, Christian Antiquities of Camborne, (1967), 71; 77-85
Websites
St Ia Chapel Camborne, accessed 10 January 2017 from https://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/explore/items/st-ia-chapel-camborne
St Ia Chapel: Pastscape entry 425660, accessed 10 January 2017 from http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=425660

Legal

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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