Lanyon Quoit

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Lanyon Quoit

Lanyon Quoit is a dolmen in western Cornwall, found two miles southeast of Morvah. It collapsed in a storm in 1815 and was re-erected 9 years later, and as a result the dolmen is now very different from its original appearance.


Lanyon Quoit is to be found to the north-west of Penzance on the road between Madron and Morvah, 50 yards the east of the road.

800 yards to the west are the remains of another dolmen known as West Lanyon Quoit.[1]


Lanyon Quoit currently has three support stones which stand to a height of 5 feet.[2] These bear a capstone which is 18 feet long,[3] and which weighs more than 12 tons.[4]

In the 18th century the quoit had four supporting stones and the structure was tall enough for a person on horse back to ride beneath it. On 19 October 1815, Lanyon Quoit fell down in a storm.[5] Nine years later enough money was raised by local inhabitants to re-erect the structure, under the guidance of Captain Giddy of the Royal Navy. One of the original stones was considered too badly damaged to put back in place, thus there are only three uprights today and the structure does not stand as high as it once did.[4] The reconstruction also placed the structure at right angles to its original position.[4]

The quoit lies at the north end of a long barrow 85 feet long and 40 feet wide.[6] The barrow, which is covered by grass and bracken, is damaged and its outline is difficult to see.[3] At the south end of the barrow are some more large stones which may be the remains of one or more cists.[3]


1769 etching by William Borlase, before the collapse in 1815

In 1769 William Borlase described the megalithic site for the first time in a publication, illustrated with etchings in which the Lanyon Quoit's design and floor plan has a different look from today.[7] Lanyon Quoit collapsed in a storm in 1815 and was re-erected in 1824. An etching from 1857 by R. T. Pentreath shows the megaliths in their presently known arrangement.[8] A similar drawing appears in the 1864 book A Week at the Land's End by John Thomas Blight.[9]

In 1872 William Copeland Borlase, a descendant of the earlier Borlase, conducted further investigations and excavations were carried out.[10] He reproduced the etchings of his ancestor and found them much more valuable than any other contemporary sketch since the monument had been subjected to such considerable change. In 1952 the then owner Edward Bolitho from Tregwainton donated the plot of land with the monument to the National Trust.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Lanyon Quoit)


  1. National Monuments Record: No. 424283 – West Lanyon Quoit
  2. Timothy Darvill, Paul Stamper, Jane Timby, (2002), England: An Oxford Archaeological Guide to Sites from Earliest Times to AD 1600, page 441. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0192841017
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 National Monuments Record: No. 424288 – Lanyon Quoit
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Tom Quinn, (2007), The archaeology of Britain: from prehistory to the industrial age, page 15. New Holland. ISBN 1845372689
  5. Hitchins, Fortescue (1824). Samuel Drew. ed. Cornwall From The Earliest Records And Traditions, To The Present Time. Helston: William Penaluna. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  6. Nikolaus Pevsner: The Buildings of England: Cornwall, 1951; 1970 Penguin Books ISBN 978-0-300-09589-0
  7. William Borlase: Antiquities Historical and Monumental of the County of Cornwall, Bowyer and Nichols, London 1769
  8. Richard Edmonds, (1862), The Land's End District and its Antiquities, Natural History, Natural Phenomena and Scenery, Smith
  9. John Thomas Blight, (1861), A Week at the Land's End, Longman
  10. William Copeland Borlase, (1872), Naenia Cornubiae, Longmans