Newquay in Cornwall


Perranporth - © Beth Graber

It is no exaggeration to say that the history and development of Perranporth have been quite unusually dominated by sand. Perranporth today has become a popular holiday resort thanks to its three-mile stretch of golden beach, but the effects have not always been so positive. In the extensive dune system just inland, two ancient religious sites have been lost to the encroaching sands.

The old oratory of St Piran, an important early Celtic monastery which became one of the foremost places of pilgrimage in mediaeval Cornwall (the shrine contained the relics of St Piran along with the teeth of St Brendan and St Martin), became overwhelmed by sand sometime before 1500.

Following its excavation in the last century, it had to be reburied in 1981 to protect the structure and the site is now marked by a memorial stone. Nearby are the ruined walls of the Norman parish church (built c. 1150) which in turn had to be abandoned to the sand in 1804. Beside it is a fine cross which may be the one recorded as a boundary point in a tenth-century charter.

Perranporth - © Beth Graber