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Carwynnen Quoit - Cornish Monument

Carwynnen Quoit: 5,000-year-old Cornish monument restored in celebration of Summer Solstice


The Carwynnen Quoit is an ancient dolmen which once sat in a field a few miles from the town of Camborne in Cornwall, in South West England.  The 5,000-year-old structure collapsed in 1967 but the ancient monument has been restored to its former glory, just in time for the Summer Solstice, BBC reports.

The Carwynnen Quoit, otherwise known as the Giant’s Quoit is believed to be a Neolithic burial chamber, however, much debate surrounds the true purpose of dolmens. Although many have been found with human remains buried inside or nearby the dolmen, it is still possible that this was a later use of the structure and not the original purpose.

Although to the untrained eye, the Carwynnen Quoit may appear as little more than a pile of stones, the ancient structure is a significant monument as discoveries at the site span many time periods, from the Neolithic period (3,500-2,500 BC), through to the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Medieval Period, demonstrating thousands of years of continued use.

Some of the findings made at the side include: a Neolithic flint arrowhead, Neolithic pottery, a hammer-stone, Bronze Age pot fragments, clay pipes, granite balls, pestle, Polcrebo cobble, and a painted slate disc. One of the items discovered is a stone musket ball, which is believed to have been fired upon the ancient structure in the Middle Ages – Neolithic structures, stone circles, and burial mounds were regarded with much suspicion among the Puritans of the 16 th century.

The capstone of the Giant’s Quoit, which is 3.3m long, 2.5m wide and 0.3m thick, once stood on three supports and was 1.5m high. It collapsed in 1834, was rebuilt but fell again in 1967. It remained collapsed ever since. Originally, the structure may have had a covering earth mound, but there is no trace of this today.  Some of the stones contain markings made in ancient times, however, the meaning of the engravings is unknown.

Markings on stones - Carwynnen Quoit

Markings on one of the stones. Photo source.

The Cornwall Sustainable Trust, which purchased the site in 2009, hired a team or archaeologists to research and coordinate the rebuild of the ancient monument. Initial work saw two support stones replaced in their original Neolithic footings, while the third stone had to be adjusted to comply with health and safety regulations. Replacing the capstone was the last piece of work carried out – the giant stone measuring 3.3m long, 2.5m wide and 30cm thick was dropped into position by a large crane – and this final step was timed to take place on the Summer Solstice in celebration of the achievement.

Leading architect on the project, Jacky Nowakowski said: "It's a magical moment to get to this stage in the project. "I feel exhilarated to bring the capstone home and make the monument complete again.

Carwynnen Quoit - Working on Capstone

Left: Workers get a helping hand from modern technology. Source. Right: A group of people try to move the capstone the ‘old-fashioned way’. Source.

Carwynnen Quoit

The capstone finally back in position. Credit: Tom Goskar

All over the British Isles and throughout the rest of the world you can find different types of Portal Dolmens. In Britain they are most common in the western parts such as Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Despite all that is known about the Neolithic period and all of the archaeological investigations that have been made over the past 150 years or so, sites like the Giant’s Quoit still contain an air of mystery – exactly how they were used has not yet been determined with any certainty.

Featured image: Carwynnen Quoit from a C19th drawing. Pendarves House is in the background. Image source.

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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