Cape Cornwall

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Cape Cornwall

Cape Cornwall is a headland in the far west of Cornwall, on the Penwith Peninsula. It is found four miles north of Land's End near the town of St Just, and until the first Ordnance Survey, 200 years ago, it was thought that Cape Cornwall was the most westerly point in Cornwall;[1] the cartographers' careful measurement has shown that Land's End edges just further west than Cape Cornwall.

A cape is the point of land where two bodies of water meet, or the turning point of the land. It is one of only two capes in the British Isles; the other being Cape Wrath in Sutherland.

Most of the headland is owned by the National Trust. There is also a National Coastwatch look out on the seaward side. The only tourist infrastructure at present is a car park (owned by the National Trust) and a public toilet and refreshments van during the summer.

The Brisons, two offshore rocks, are located approximately one mile southwest of Cape Cornwall and are the finish line of the annual swimming race from Priest Cove.[1]

Just one mile from the Cape is the westernmost school on the British mainland, Cape Cornwall School. This is Cornwall's smallest secondary school with (as of January 2008) about 450 young people aged 11 to 16. Commonly known as "Cape" it is Cornwall's only school that specialises in art, photography and music. Most of its pupils come from the town of St Just in Penwith and the nearby villages of Pendeen, Sennen, St Buryan and St Levan but over 10% travel to the school from Penzance and further east.


Seas battering the cape

The name "Cape Cornwall" appeared first on a maritime chart around the year 1600 and the original Cornish name Kilgodh Ust has fallen out of use. The Cornish Kilgodh Ust means "goose-back at St Just", a reference to the shape of the cape.[2]

Historical interest

Buildings on the Cape

Pottery found in cists on the Cape have been dated to the Late Bronze Age and the presence of another cliff castle nearby (Kenidjack) may indicate that the area was important in the Iron Age. On the landward side of the Cape is the remains of the mediæval St Helen's Oratory, which replaced a 6th-century church. A font in the porch of St Just church may be from this building.[1]

Cape Cornwall Mine, a tin mine on Cape Cornwall, operated intermittently between 1838 and 1883. The mine's 1864 chimney near the peak of the cape was retained as an aid to navigation, and in the early 20th century the former ore dressing floors were for a time converted into greenhouses and wineries. In 1987 the site was donated to the nation by the H. J. Heinz Company. The remains of Cape Cornwall Mine now form part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Cape Cornwall)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Joseph P. 2006. Cape Cornwall Mine. British Mining No 79. Northern Mine Research Society. Sheffield. pp.111. ISBN – 13: 978-0-901450-60-9.
  2. Weatherhill C. (2007) Cornish Place Names and Language. Ammanford: Sigma Press.