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Cornwall Gazetteer

Altarnun Holy Well

A holy well can be found at Altarnun dedicated to Saint Non (also known as Nonna or Nonnita), along with a nearby church. As with many ancient wells, this one is reputed to have healing properties, this time madness.

Bodmin

Bodmin means the house of the monks, and this was an ecclesiastical town until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.

The original monastery dedicated to St Petroc was founded in the 6th Century. St Petroc's bones are believed to be kept in an ivory casket in the crypt of St Petroc's Church. Read More »

Bolster and St Agnes

Bolster's Stride

In the time of giants in the Penwith area of Cornwall, there lived a particularly troublesome giant called Bolster, who was of such enormous stature that he could stand with one foot on Carn Brae, and the other on the beacon near St Agnes, a distance of 6 miles. Read More »

Braddock Down

On 19th January 1643 Sir Ralph Hopton's Royalist forces camped at Boconnoc were surprised to discover a Parliamentarian army under the command of Lord Ruthin deployed on Braddock Down. Ruthin ordered an attack rather than waiting for the reinforcements under the Earl of Stamford to arrive from Liskeard. Hopton's forces won the battle securing Cornwall for the Royalists. Read More »

Carn Brea

Carn Brea was occupied from 3,900BC, and was protected from attack by stone ramparts. Archaeological evidence shows the settlement was attacked and burned down at some point in its history. Hoards of Celtic coins have also been found on the hill during excavation. Read More »

Carn Euny

Carn Euny Exterior

The remains of this Iron Age village dating from around 200BC, houses a 66-foot long fogou. A fogou is an underground passage, completed in stone and covered with earth. They date from the Iron Age period to the Roman occupation.

There is some speculation as to their purpose. Whether they are storage facilities, safe havens from attackers or channels for earth currents is debatable. Read More »

The Giant of Carn Galva

This tale tells of a gentle giant who lived in Cornwall, the land of giants, and a place where they were thought responsible for many of the natural landscape features. The story appears in Traditional and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall by W. Botrell 1870. Read More »

Carn Gluze Long Barrow

Carn Gluze Long Barrow is a developed site that has seen burials over a long period of time. Early in the history of the barrow a deep shaft was built in the centre of the monument with steps leading down into it, its purpose is unclear although theories of ritual usage have been expounded. Read More »

Castle Dore and the Tristan Stone

Castle Dore is an Iron age hillfort dating from around 200BC.  It was possibly home to Cunomonus a local king who had a son called Drustanus. The castle is also associated with the legend of Tristan and Isolde. Read More »

Chapel Porth

The giant Bolster is said to have terrorised the area until he fell in love with St Agnes. She asked him to prove his love to her by filling a hole in the cliffs at Chapel Porth with his blood.

This was deemed an easy task by the giant but the hole led to the sea, and the giant duly poured his lifeblood into the hole and died of blood loss. Read More »

Cherry of Zennor

The following story complete with footnotes was entitled ‘The Adventure of Cherry of Zennor (1)’ and appeared in ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890] Read More »

Chun Quoit

Chun Quoit: by Daniel ParkinsonChun Quoit: by Daniel Parkinson

Chun Quoit is one of the most recognisable of the Bronze Age burial cairns in the Penwith area.

Directions: On a footpath from a minor road off the B3306.

The Giant Comoran

Jack slaying Comoran

Cormoran was the name given to the giant who is said to have built and lived on St Michael's Mount, he was killed by Jack the giant slayer. Read More »

Dando and The Wild Hunt

There are many tales to explain the origin of the spectral wild hunt, this one is from the Parish of St Germans in Cornwall. It explains how a priest with low morals became a demon huntsman.

In the medieval period the priest of the parish of St Germans was called Dando. Dando was not a figure of priestly virtue but abused his powers to enjoy earthly delights. Read More »

Deadmans' Cove

The cove is said to be haunted by a figure in dark clothing. It is difficult to ascertain whether this is connected in any way to the name of the place, but there was a sighting of the figure in the 1970s.

Directions: The cove can be reached off the B3301, on the Cornwall coastal path.

Dolphin Inn, Penzance

The Dolphin Inn in Penzance has a long and interesting history, reputedly including amongst its visitors Sir Walter Raleigh and Judge Jeffries .

Judge Jeffries the notorious "Hanging Judge" is said to have held court in the dinning room, after the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion. Read More »

Dorothy Dinglett

Although this tale is very old, dating from 1665, the year of the great plague, and the year before the Great Fire of London, it is interesting because the person who performed the alleged exorcism recorded the events, and there were a number of witnesses. Although the exorcism was said to be a success her spirit is still said to wander in the local environs. Read More »

Dorothy Durant, Ghost of Botathen

There is an old story concerning the ghost of Dorothy Durant who was said to haunt a field at Botathen (Botathan, Botaden)in the 17th century. The following account appeared in The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain (1897) by John Ingram who in turn took it from the History of Cornwall by Hitchins and Drew (1824). Read More »

Dozmary Pool

Dozmary Pool

Dozmary Pool is associated with many legends. It is suspected of being the body of water into which Sir Bedivere threw Excalibur after King Arthur was mortally wounded. The pool is also said to be a haunt of the Lady of the Lake, guardian of Excalibur. It is also said to be bottomless and to have a tunnel connecting it to the sea. Read More »

Ezekiel Grosse, Rosewarne

The following story concerning Ezekiel Grosse was published in Robert Hunt’s 1864 ‘Popular Romances of the West of England’ and again in ‘English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890]. Read More »

Forraburry

There is a tradition at Forrabury, that the sound of ghostly bells can be heard coming from the waves, especially on stormy nights.

It is said that many years ago new bells were being transported over sea for the local church. The captain of the boat used profane language, at which a violent storm broke out and the ship was lost with all hands. Read More »

The Helston Flurry Dance

8th May - The Helston Flurry Dance takes place, where Helstonians take part in a pagan ritual processional dance through the town in a custom that pre-dates Christianity and probably dates back to Celtic times. The dance takes place each eighth of May unless it falls on a Sunday or Monday and was probably originally a fertility or Spring festival. Read More »

The Hurlers

The Hurlers Stone Circles

The Hurlers are three stone circles situated on moorland to the Northwest of Minions. The circles are aligned Southwest to Northeast and consist of low granite blocks of varying shapes and sizes. They date back to the Bronze Age period. According to legend they are reputed to be the petrified remains of men who were hurling on the Sabbath. Read More »

The Jamaica Inn, Bolventor

The Jamaica Inn is supposedly haunted by two different ghosts. A ghostly sailor is reputed to sit on a wall outside the Inn. The sightings have always been in the same location. The second ghost is that of a man wearing a tricorn hat and a long coat. The apparition was seen by a pair of eye witnesses in 1970 whilst staying overnight in the inn. Read More »

Jan Tregeagle

The legend of the torments of Jan Tregeagle stretch from the bleak moors of Bodmin, to the lonely beaches of Land's End. He has been identified by some as a forgotten Celtic god who still haunts the landscape. Read More »

King Doniert's Stone

King Doniert's Stone

Two granite slabs carved with latin inscriptions and intricate patterns, lie near the edge of Bodmin Moor.The stones are the remains of crosses, and are associated with King Doniert (Durngarth) of Cornwall who drowned in AD 875 in the river Fowey. Read More »

The Knockers

In many old established mining areas throughout the world, there was a
long tradition of mine spirits, in Cornwall these were known as the
Knockers. They frequented the tin mines that formed much of local
economy in 18th and 19th century Cornwall. Knockers was not the only
name given to mine spirits others being Knackers, Buccas, and Spriggans Read More »

Land's End

Beyond Land's End stretching to the Isles of Scilly, the lost land of Lyonnesse is reputed to lie. The land is said to have been engulfed by the sea over 900 years ago.

According to tradition the only survivor of the sinking was a man called Trevilian, who rode a white horse before the waves. The family crest shows the image of this white horse. Read More »

Lanyon Quoit

Lanyon Quoit

Also known as The Giants Table, Lanyon Quoit is a Neolithic burial mound dating back to 2500BC. The chambered tomb is made up of three upright granite blocks and a capstone, the covering mound has long since weathered away. Read More »

Loe Pool

The Pool has a King Arthur legend, and along with Dozmary pool is supposedly the body of water from which he received Excalibur from the lady of the lake.

A high bar of shingle, called Loe bar separates the pool from the sea. Jan Tregeagle is supposed to have been tripped by demons while engaged in one of his tasks. He dropped a sack full of sand and created Loe Bar. Read More »

Madron Holy Well

One of the most widely known wells in Cornwall, Madron Holy Well is still used, and has been the scene of some miraculous cures in the past. About 100 metres away are the remains of the Madron Well Chapel.

Rags and other objects are left to rot away in the hope of cures, and as votive offerings.

Directions: Northwest of Madron from a footpath Read More »

Mawnan Owl Man

The famed Mawnan Owl Man, was seen in the church grounds and the local woods on April 17th, July 3rd 1976, and June 4th, August 2nd 1978. Read More »

Men-an Tol

Men-an Tol

Men-an-Tol, consist of a holed stone (with the largest hole of any British holed stone) between two upright stones, with other fallen stones nearby. The holed stone is considered to be the remains of an entrance to a chambered tomb. The whole structure having been covered with a mound of earth. As with many of these cromlechs it is difficult to image a mound covering them at any time. Read More »

Morgawr

Morgawr, which is old Cornish for sea monster and has been seen several times this century.

There have been many sightings since 1926 and some photographs have been taken showing a dark mass with several humps. As with many monster photographs none of the pictures are clear enough to make any snap judgements. Read More »

Mr William's Experience (1812), Scorrier House

On 11th May 1812, Spencer Perceval (Born 1 November 1762) was shot and killed by John Bellingham, making him the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated in office. There is a story that this assassination was foreseen in a dream by Mr Williams of Scorrier House in Redruth, Cornwall. Read More »

Padstow Hobby Horse (Oss)

1st May - The festival starts at midnight in the early hours of Mayday. The actual Hobby Horse is a hoop covered with black material with an African mask, and a horses head with snapping jaws. A man stands inside the hoop and the procession parades around the town. The festival has ancient origins. Read More »

Penhale

The buried town of Langarroc; Legend has it that seven churches stood on land now covered by sand dunes. The town was buried in a violent storm, sent to punish the people for their wicked ways.

Ancient human skeletons have been found in the area, adding substance that there was a settlement here in the distant past. Read More »

The Piskies of Cornwall

Cornish Piskie

There are a number of creatures particular to Cornish folklore, although their cousins can be found elsewhere in Britain under a different name and guise. One of these strains is the Piskie also known as a Pixie in other West Country counties.

The Piskie is a general name for a fairy race or tribe in Cornwall. Read More »

Porthcurno Cove

A phantom sailing ship is said to sail into the cove and over the beach.

Directions: Porthcurno is reached from a minor road off the B3315.

Rillaton Mound

A legend associated with this mound was reflected by archaeological findings during excavation. A druid priest was said to haunt the mound, he would offer travellers a drink from a golden cup filled with a magical brew, which could not be drained. Read More »

Roche Rock

A chapel, dedicated to St Michael, was built on this rock in 1409 by a hermit. Traditionally a leper is said to have taken refuge here.

The area is reputed to be haunted by a miner, he makes his presence known either by making noises within the chapel, or by a shadow that flits from rock to rock with no earthly presence to cast it. Read More »

Spectral Coach of Blackadon

Lanreath is well known for the tale of a spectral coach which was said to haunt the area. The following account that appeared in 'The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain' by John Ingram (1897), describes the encounter between the exorcist, Richard Dodge, and the phantom coach. Read More »

The Spriggans

Armed Spriggan

Spriggans is the name given to a family of fairies in Cornish folklore, they are the closely related to the Piskies, but were generally believed to be darker and more dangerous than their mischievous cousins. Whereas Piskies are generally described as being cheerful and fun loving, Spriggans are more spiteful and full of malice, directed at humans in the form of evil tricks. Read More »

St Ives Bay

A ghost ship seen off the coast, has been identified with the ship Neptune. Also a ghostly lantern light is said to haunt the shore. It is supposed to be the lantern of a woman who was shipwrecked here and lost her baby to the waves. She is constantly searching for her child. Read More »

St Keyne

St Keyne

The holy well in the village is connected with a 5th century virgin called St Keyne who performed miracles.

St Levan's Church

It is said that the sound of a bell issues from a particular grave in the churchyard, when someone who is destined to die soon passes over it.

The church yard also contains a stone said to have been split open by St Levan. According to tradition if the gap becomes wide enough for a horse and cart to pass through it, it will signal the end of the world. Read More »

St Michael's Mount

St Michaels Mount 1

St Michael's Mount is a picturesque rocky island that has been described as the 'Jewel in Cornwall's crown' - perhaps a reason for its popularity with visitors. Read More »

St Nectan's Glen

St Nectan's Glen, classical labyrinth

This beautiful glen is home to two rock cut labyrinths of classical (Cretan) design next to a watermill in rocky valley. Each carving is about 12 inches across its face.

There is some conjecture about their origin. They may date from the Bronze Age or Iron Age period, but are more likely to be the work of a local miller in the eighteenth century. Read More »

St Neot Holy Well

The holy well at St Neot was once said to be the home of two holy fishes.

There is a story attached to these fish, it is said that one of the local priests had a vision, in which an angel told him that if he took one fish from the well every day to eat, there would always be a replacement the next day. Read More »

The Lady With The Lantern, St Ives

‘The Lady With The Lantern’(1) is a story which appeared in English Fairy and Other Folk Tales’ by Edwin Sidney Hartland [1890]. It is reproduced below complete with footnote. Read More »



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