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Great Britain_England_Cornwall_Penwith_Boswarthan_Lanyon Quoit Portal Dolmen_P1390763

Lanyon Quoit

Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech

Also known as:•The Giant's Quoit •The Giant's Table

Nearest Town: Penzance (5km ESE) OS Ref (GB): SW429338 / Sheet: 203 Latitude: 50° 8' 51.98" N Longitude: 5° 35' 57.25" W


Lanyon Quoit SW430337

Lanyon Quoit is a very impressive structure, but it is not a true historical representation. Originally it was taller, of sufficient height for a horseman to sit under. Its capstone had an original circumference of 47 feet, however a piece has since been broken off. This size together with an average thickness of 20 inches made the capstone extremely heavy. Unfortunately its capstone and one of its supporting stones collapsed in 1815. These were re-erected in 1824 but were not put back in their original position.

In the mid eighteenth century, the landowner had a dream which led him to have the quoit excavated. A six foot deep pit was dug and a grave was found of which no recordings survive. The quoit was further disturbed more than once. All these disturbances together with the extreme weight of the capstone was probably the reason why it collapsed after standing for thousands of years, rather than the accepted explanation of a severe storm.

Lanyon Quoit is the highest visited quoit, and easily the most accessible, being only 50 meters from the road. If visiting Lanyon Quoit it is well worthwhile to also investigate the surrounding area. Just by looking at the ordinance survey map one can see there are other prehistoric sites in close proximity to the quoit. There is the remnants of a second quoit close by, West Lanyon Quoit, however this is on private land.


LANYON QUOIT SW 4298 3369 [OS Maps Explorer 102; Landranger 203] LOCATION Lanyon Quoit is located on relatively low-lying land close to Lanyon Farm, beside the Penzance-Madron-Morvah road. The site is owned and maintained by the National Trust. ACCESS There is an area beside the road where one or two cars can park. A stile leads across a Cornish hedge, and the Quoit is a few yards further on. There is no disabled access at present, though discussions are underway to see if it can be provided in the future. DESCRIPTION Lanyon Quoit is perhaps the best known and most photographed of any of Cornwall's prehistoric monuments - but it also unfortunately one of the least authentic! It originally dated from the early Neolithic period (3500-2500 BC) and consisted a large capstone 5.3m (17½ft) long and 2.7m (9ft) wide on 4 upright support stones, similar to Chûn Quoit on the moors to the west [available as a downloadable leaflet]. However, in 1815 it collapsed in a storm and some stones were fractured, so that when it was re-erected in 1824 (at right angles to its original position) the capstone was placed on only 3 uprights which were shortened and squared off. It is thus much lower than before, and does not retain the distinctive rectangular box-like appearance of other Quoits. It originally stood at the northern end of a burial mound 27m (90ft) long and 12m (40ft) broad, the outline of which is still visible. At the southern end is a collection of stones which may originally have formed a small chamber or cist. In the 18th century Dr.Borlase dug at the site and reported that between the support stoones, he had found a grave containing 'black earth'. FOLKLORE & LEGEND Like many other sites, it was previously thought that treasure was buried under the monument, and digging over the years certainly weakened the foundations and probably contributed to its collapse. PURPOSE AND MEANING Lanyon is one of a number of quoits (approximately 8) remaining in West Penwith. These sites were probably designed as repositories for the bones of the dead, whose bodies may have been laid out on the capstones for the carrion birds to remove the flesh (a practice known as excarnation). Yet it would be a mistake to think of these monuments simply as 'burial chambers'. The bone evidence from other places indicates that the disarticulated bones of a number of individuals may have been placed inside, and from time to time some bones were removed and were replaced by others. We may perhaps rather think of these sites as places where the tribe (or the shamans of the tribe) would go to consult with the spirits of their dead ancestors in trance journeys and altered states of consciousness


Site Name: Lanyon Quoit Country: England County: Cornwall Type: Burial Chamber (Dolmen) Nearest Town: Penzance Nearest Village: Madron Map Ref: SW42983369 Landranger Map Number: 203 Latitude: 50.147438N Longitude: 5.59898W

In the care of the National Trust this burial chamber composed of three uprights and a capstone is one of the most famous in Cornwall and one of the easiest to reach. The chamber was once covered by a long barrow approximately 25m long by 12m wide.

The capstone apparently fell in 1815, but was replaced in 1824.


Lanyon Quoit Neolithic Chambered Tomb / Dolmen Northwest of Madron, Cornwall OS Map Ref SW42973368 OS Maps - Landranger 203 (Land's End & Isles of Scilly), Explorer 102 (Land’s End)

Probably the most well known and instantly recognisable prehistoric monument in Cornwall, Lanyon Quoit is however not in its original form. This impressive Neolithic dolmen or chambered tomb is easily accessible being signposted next to the road from Madron and stands a short distance from both Chun Quoit and the Men-an-Tol. Like many other tombs the mound of stone and rubble that would have surrounded and partially covered the uprights and capstone has been almost entirely removed making its original shape difficult to determine. There may in fact be two or three monuments here, to the south a spread of stones are thought to be remains of burial cists recorded by William Borlase in 1872 but by then the site had already been badly damaged. During a storm in 1815 the stones of Lanyon Quoit collapsed, leading to the tomb being restored in 1824. However, only three of the uprights now remain, as one of the stones was broken during the restoration process. Legend says that a giants bones were found in the tomb, hence its alternative names of Giants Quoit or Giants Table.

Lanyon Quoit

Type: Dolmen

Country: England

County: Cornwall

Grid Ref: SW430337

Latitude: 50.146942

Longitude: -5.597767

Accuracy: to 70m (NGR derived)

Datum: OSGB36

Lanyon Quoit makes a fine, dramatic photograph and features in many of the tourist publications for the West Penwith area of Cornwall. However, though the site and stones are for real, it isn't an authentic image of prehistory. The original collapsed (26) in a storm in 1815, breaking some stones. The capstone was re-erected on three stones where there were probably more supports originally, and the axis of the monument was turned through 90 degrees.


Lanyon Quoit

Type of site: Burial Chamber (Dolmen) Nearest town: Penzance Map reference: SW 4298 3369 (SW4334) Coordinates: 50.1474, -5.59898

Situated in largely unpopulated and treeless Cornish landscape between Madron and Morvah, Lanyon Quoit, along with other Cornish dolmens, dates back to the Neolithic period (3500-2500BC), predating both the pyramids in Egypt and metal tools.

The original use is somewhat disputed; some believing that it was the burial chamber of a large mound and others contesting that it was never completely covered, but rather used as a mausoleum and the imposing backdrop to ritual ceremonies, especially since it is believed that in its original form the quoit was aligned with cardinal points. Another theory is that bodies were placed on the capstone to be eaten by carrion birds. Nearby lie a number of small stone burial chambers, knows as cists, with a longstone about 100 yards north-west of the quoit and evidence that there were once a number of neighbouring barrows.

Once tall enough to allow a horse and rider to pass underneath, Lanyon Quoit is certainly one of Cornwall’s most recognisable and important megalithic sites. The mammoth capstone, weighing over 13 tonnes and measuring 9 feet by 17 feet, originally sat atop four upright stones until a thunderstorm in 1815 dislodged it. Attributed in part to soil removal from numerous treasure hunting explorations, the fall broke one of the supporting stones, hence the diminished stature achieved when re-erected by local public subscription (incidentally, the equipment used to replace the capstone was that previously used to replace the Logan Rock).


Lanyon Quoit


Map Ref. SW 430337

Lanyon Quoit (Chambered Tomb. Neolithic.) A massive capstone, supported by three uprights covers this impressive tomb. The chamber was originally a rectangular box, with a long low platform at one end. There are the remains of side chambers (cists) at the other end . Believed to be the burial chamber of a long mound, Lanyon Quoit has many unusual features, it is possible that this site may have had a role as a mausoleum or cenotaph.

The location of Lanyon Quoit makes it one of the best-known Cornish quoits. Situated on the road from Madron to Morvah this is an easy site to visit - visible from the road. Lanyon Quiot collapsed during a storm in 1815 - damaging one of the upright stones. The local residents rebuilt the site in 1824 using the remaining three of the original four uprights. The resulting quoit is considerably lower than the original, which "until the 18th century it was possible to sit on horseback beneath it". William Borlase's Antiquities of Cornwall shows that in 1769 it was still possible to ride a horse underneath the capstone. The original structure is believed to have been erected 2500 BCE.

There are a number of other barrows close to Lanyon Quoit, with a longstone located about 90m (100 yards) to the north-west. At the south end of the mound surrounding the quoit, there are the remains of a number of stone burial boxes (cists). These may have been part of a single elongated mound with the quoit, or separate later additions to the site.


About Lanyon Quoit Address: Madron, Cornwall, England

Attraction Type: Prehistoric Site Location: Off a minor road 2 miles NW of Madron Location map OS: SW430 337 Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time

The quoit consists of one large stone supported upon three standing stones. It is likely the remains of a long barrow, or chambered tomb, and would have been covered with turf. It is difficult to draw conclusions about the purpose of the quoit, or even its original appearance; it was the victim of well-meaning attempts at restoration in the early 19th century.

At that time the capstone was rotated, and the uprights altered to support it. In the process the quoit was lowered considerably. A commentator writing in the late 18th century claimed that at that time a horse and rider could pass comfortably beneath it!

Despite these alterations the quoit is an imposing monument. The capstone alone weighs over 13 tons. The remains of the barrow can be seen, running for 27 feet on a roughly south-north axis. It may originally have been as long as 60 feet in length. A conservative estimate puts the time of the quoit's erection at 2500 BCE.

Another name for the quoit is Giant's Table, or Giant's Tomb. This relates to the local legend that a giant's bones were found in the tomb. The area is rich in standing stones and other prehistoric sites of interest. Men-an-Tol is close by.

Visiting Lanyon Quoit: Parking is a bit of an issue; the narrow country lane that passes Lanyon Quoit was simply not made for parking. There are a couple of small passing place lay-bys on the north side of the road (heading east), but neither is signposted. There is a small, rather invisible signpost by the hedge that screens the quoit from traffic along the lane, but it is very easy to miss it completely. This is one of those historic sites that may require several trips back and forth - first to figure out exactly where it is, then to find a good layby to pull into. My best estimate at the location along the lane where you can find a layby to park is Grid reference SW429336. Good luck!

I would be remiss not mention footwear. The quoit is in a farm field. Lest that not be graphic enough to sink in, let me put it another way; lots of animals use the field, and leave evidence of their passing behind. Wear good footwear and watch your step; you have been warned!

Not only do cattle use the field for grazing; if the weather is hot they find the quoit an ideal shelter from the sun, so you may find a small herd of cows seeking shade under the stones, and from my experience, they aren't really keen to move off. They aren't dangerous, but its a good idea to keep dogs on a lead, or better yet, leave them in the car.

Lanyon Quoit

Lanyon Quoit is probably one of the best-known of Cornwall's ancient monuments, dating from the Neolithic period (3500-2500BC). The huge capstone originally stood atop four upright stone columns, but it crashed to the ground, smashing some of the stone supports during a storm in 1815.

The quoit was subsequently re-erected, at right-angles to its original position, on top of what remained of the uprights. Originally tall enough for a horse and rider to pass beneath, it now stands a little over a metre tall. If you feel at ease beneath several tons of stone you can sit comfortably underneath Lanyon Quoit.

It is believed that Lanyon and other quoits in the area were used as ritual funeral sites. It's possible that bodies were laid on top of the capstone to be eaten by carrion birds. Similar sites show evidence of bones from several individuals, and it's thought that bones were moved to sites such as Lanyon and used in rituals, perhaps involving attempts to communicate with ancestors and the spirit world.

Lanyon Quoit is situated in a field by the side of the Morvah to Madron road. It's easy to miss, there's a layby with space for a couple of cars and a small National Trust sign on the hedge. It's just a few hundred metres south of Men-an-tol, which is also worth a visit


Lanyon Quoit Dolmen Cornwall Nearest town: Penzance Nearest village: Madron Map reference: SW 430337

Before 1815, a man on horseback could pass under the capstone

Lanyon Quoit is the best-known Cornish quoit, as it stands right beside the road leading from Madron to Morvah. This dolmen collapsed during a storm in 1815 and was re-erected nine years later, with money raised by subscription among the local inhabitants. The reconstruction was not accurate because one of the uprights broke during the collapse and only three were reused. As a result, the quoit is now not so high as it was in the past. In fact, until the 18th century it was possible to sit on horseback beneath it. The capstone is 2.7 x 5.25m (9ft x 17.5ft) wheighing 13.5 tons; the chamber height is about 2m (7ft). Believed to be the burial chamber of a long mound, Lanyon Quoit is unusual in many ways and may have been more of a mausoleum or cenotaph than a grave. Recent theories suggest that these megalithic monuments were never completely covered by mounds but that their granite capstone and front portal stones were left uncovered to form a dramatic background to the ceremonies performed there. A number of other barrows once stood close by Lanyon Quoit in addition to a longstone about 90m (100 yards) to the north-west. At the southern end of the mound surrounding the quoit are the remains of a number of stone burial boxes (cists), but it is unclear whether these formed part of a single elongated mound with the quoit, or whether they were a quite separate later addition to the site. In the same area are many other megalithic and archaeological sites: Mên-an-Tol, Mên Scryfa, Chûn Castle and Chûn Quoit.


Lanyon Quoit is a dolmen in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, 2 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 located northwest of Penzance on the road between Madron and Morvah. It stands 50 metres to the east of the road.

700 metres to the west lie the remains of another dolmen known as West Lanyon Quoit.

Coordinates: 50.14750°N 5.599167° W

Lanyon Quoit currently has three support stones which stand to a height of 1.5 metres. These bear a capstone which is 5.5 metres long, and which weighs more than 12 tonnes.

In the 18th century the quoit had four supporting stones and the structure was tall enough for a person on horse back to ride under. On 19 October 1815, Lanyon Quoit fell down in a storm. 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. The reconstruction also placed the structure at right angles to its original position.

The quoit lies at the north end of a long barrow 26 metres long and 12 metres wide. The barrow, which is covered by grass and bracken, is damaged and its outline is difficult to see. At the south end of the barrow are some more large stones which may be the remains of one or more cists.

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.


Der Lanyon Quoit, auch bekannt als The Giant’s Quoit und The Giant’s Table, ist ein etwa 5500 Jahre alter Dolmen aus der Jungsteinzeit und der bekannteste Quoit in Cornwall.

Der Lanyon Quoit befindet sich nordwestlich von Penzance zwischen Madron und Morvah. Er liegt 3 km hinter Madron in nördlicher Richtung 50 m rechts neben der Straße. Im Umkreis einiger Kilometer befinden sich weitere Megalithanlagen: das Entrance Grave von Bosiliack der Boskednan Boscawen-ûn Chûn Quoit Mên-an-Tol Merry Maidens Mulfra Quoit Tregeseal Tregiffian Zennor Quoit

Koordinaten: 50° 8′ 51″ N, 5° 35′ 57″ W

Der Lanyon Quoit besteht aus drei etwa 2,0 m hohen Pfeilern, auf denen eine ovale, etwa 13 Tonnen schwere Deckplatte ruht. Die Längen der Achsen der annähernd symmetrischen Deckplatte betragen 2,75 m und 5,25 m. Ein Pfeiler stützt die Platte nahezu zentral, die anderen beiden stützen den Rand der Platte. Die Randpfeiler liegen in Position und Ausrichtung nicht symmetrisch zur Achse der ovalen Deckplatte. Dieser Eindruck entsteht nur bei geeigneter Wahl des Standortes, wie die Bilder veranschaulichen. Um das wieder errichtete Steinmal findet man Menhire, deren ursprüngliche Anordnung und Funktion ungeklärt sind, und am südlichen Ende des Areals Reste von Steinkisten, so dass von einer weitläufigeren Kultanlage ausgegangen werden kann.

1769 beschrieb William Borlase erstmals die Megalithanlage in einer Publikation und fertigte zur Illustration die nebenstehenden Radierungen an, in denen der Lanyon Quoit bezüglich Aufbau und Grundriss ein deutlich anderes Aussehen als heute aufweist.[1] Auch Scotts Darstellung aus dem Jahr 1813 zeigt eine andere als die heutige Anordnung der Megalithe und stimmt mit der von Borlase überein.[2] William Cotton berichtete in seinem Werk, wie es im 19. Jahrhundert zur Neugestaltung des Monuments kam.[3] Im Jahr 1815 stürzte den Lanyon Quoit bei einem Sturm ein und wurde 1824 mit finanzieller Unterstützung der Anwohner und unter der Anleitung von Captain Giddy von der Royal Navy wieder aufgerichtet. Allerdings entsprach die Rekonstruktion nicht ganz dem ursprünglichen Aussehen der Anlage, da beim Einsturz ein Pfeiler und ein Teil der Deckplatte abgebrochen war. Daher ließ Captain Giddy die restlichen drei Stützsteine etwas versetzen und die Deckplatte um 90° drehen, so dass sie jetzt nur mehr auf drei Pfeilern auflag. Wie die Zeichnung von Borlase zeigt, waren die Pfeiler, darunter ein in dieser Form nicht mehr vorhandener, wesentlich breiterer Stein, vorher parallel zueinander gestanden. Außerdem müsste die Anlage einst höher gewesen sein, da Borlase berichtet hatte, dass ein Mann aufrecht darunter hindurch reiten konnte. Eine Radierung aus dem Jahr 1857 von R. T. Pentreath zeigt die Megalithe bereits in der heute bekannten Anordnung.[4] 1864 fertigte John Thomas Blight in seinem Werk A Week at the Land's End eine Radierung an, die ebenfalls den neugestalteten Lanyon Quoits zeigt.[5] 1872 nahm William Copeland Borlase, ein Urenkel des älteren Borlase, weitere Untersuchungen und archäologische Ausgrabungen vor.[6] Er reproduzierte Radierungen seines Vorfahren und fand sie viel wertvoller als jede andere zeitgenössische Skizze, da das Denkmal seitdem erheblichen Veränderungen unterworfen war. 1952 übergab der damalige Eigentümer Edward Bolitho aus Trengwainton das Grundstück mit dem Monument an den National Trust.

In neuerer Zeit wurden konkrete Vorstellungen über Aussehen und Zweck der Anlage entwickelt: Heute vermuten Archäologen, dass die Steinformation wie die anderen nahegelegenen Quoits einst die Grabkammer eines Portalgrabs war oder ein Kenotaph darstellte, ein Ehrenmal für verstorbene hochangesehene Priester-Schamanen. Umstritten ist, ob die Kammer vollständig mit Erde bedeckt war oder ob der Eingangsbereich zusammen mit der Deckplatte offengelegt war. Vor, im Innern oder auch auf der Steinformation könnten dann Kulthandlungen vorgenommen worden sein.[7] Ungeklärt ist auch, wie der 13 Tonnen schwere Deckstein von Menschenhand in zwei Meter Höhe verbracht werden konnte. Denkbar ist ein Transport über eine sehr lange, künstlich aufgeschüttete Rampe. Ebenso möglich erscheint ein sukzessives Anheben des Steins mittels einer Holzkonstruktion, ein Verfahren, das auch für die Decksteine von Stonehenge in Betracht kommt.


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Photo details

  • Uploaded on October 30, 2013
  • Attribution-No Derivative Works
    by George Charleston
    • Camera: Panasonic DMC-FZ18
    • Taken on 2012/07/04 16:48:05
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/400)
    • Focal Length: 6.70mm
    • F/Stop: f/5.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash