Walking the section of the South West Coast Path between Praa Sands and Porthleven (16.6.2011) produced an unexpected treat. Many Cornish cliff top barrows are just low mounds or are lost in the vegetation, so we headed to Trewavas Cliff without any expectations, especially as I haven't found any mention of the barrow in any of the regional guidebooks I have.
As it turns out, it's a bit of a lost gem. Rather overwhelmed by summer grasses and clifftop vegetation, it boasts a clear chamber, with one very thick roofing cap still in place on its supporting side slabs and two other stones displaced either side. Almost like a Scillonian type entrance grave, but not shown as such. It's a wild and windswept spot, with views to The Lizard and back towards West Penwith. The low remains of an ancient Cornish granite hedge snake past to the tip of the headland, compounding the timeless feel of the location.
[Post-visit check of Pastscape suggests that an "official" visit would be beneficial, as only Glyn Daniel's 1950 notes bear any relation to what can be seen. One of the records from the 1910s suggests the barrow's stones have been broken up and thrown down leaving nothing to see!]
How the north side [of the chamber] was formed there is no evidence to shew. If a single slab stood there, it must have been removed when a pit was dug in front of it, some years ago, by a treasure-seeker. We have here again the old story, so often told in connexion with the destruction and plundering of ancient monumental structures. A miner in the neighbourhood had long set a covetous eye on the barrow as the storehouse of great riches; and one night he had so impressive a dream, bringing vividly before him a great crock of gold, that at dawn he proceeded to the mound, and dug the pit just referred to, exposing the kistvaen, into which he got full access; but what he found there, my informant, whom I accidentally met near the spot, and who knew the miner, could not tell; and as the explorer himself has since left Cornwall, there seems now to be but little chance of ascertaining what the cell contained, a state of things much to be regretted, as from its structure and peculiar position the barrow is of more than ordinary interest.
Description from the Inventory to Glyn Daniel's "The Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of England and Wales" (1950 Cambridge University Press) p240:
A round barrow 25ft in diameter with a depression in the centre revealing what is either a large cist or (more probably) a ruined entrance grave of Scilly type: the chamber is roofed with a megalith 4ft 6in by 4ft. (See J.T. Blight, AC, 1867, p.334.)