I visited Lanyon Quoit on 7th December 2013 (apologies this isn't a recent visit) as part of a look around the Penwith area with my Father.
This was the first site we took a look at and I was blown away, all the pictures I had seen of it previously had left me expecting a site roughly as high as a kitchen table (why?)
It was a grey morning and the mist had not long lifted. Access to the site is very easy indeed and we spent a good bit of time hanging around this one checking it out from different angles, speculating on how it would have looked before being 'repaired' all those years ago.
Along with Merry Maidens and Men-an-Tol, Lanyon Quoit is the most visited and most picture postcard perfect of West Penwith's many ancient sites, despite being the least authentic of the four upstanding Quoits that the area boasts. Not much remains of its original mound and the capstone's supports are rather shorter than they used to be. But so what? This is still a great spot and what's not to like about a giant stone table?
At the western end of the mound, a cluster of stones may mark the position of a cist or small chamber that was built into the mound. But there's too little left to really get any sense of what there might have been.
Very easy to access. There is a small layby about 10 metres from the stone stile which gives access to the field in which the quoit sits. The quoit is only about 30 metres into the field - and a cracking thing it is too!!
A great first call, apart from the pub, on an epic trip round the Lands End peninsula. No-one there at all, it was early morning and myself and my brother had hang-overs after 1 too many Scrumpies at the Newbridge Inn. Great shade and great setting as we watched the storm gathering a pace over Lands End. Although not a area of country where you want to be caught in a storm to see black clouds on one side of you and sunshine on the other is quite dramatic.
A wonderful site, worthy of the attention it gets. The re-positioning of the stones is quite obvious, but doesn't in any way spoil it. We sat here for a while as the midday sun burnt away what was left of the cloud cover, and the day took a lighter turn.
As this is right next to the main road and in the care of the National Trust I expected a huge neon signs above it and a pay and display car park. But actually it is very subtle and very low key (and very fitting), with just a make shift lay-by next to it and small plaque set in the field wall near a stone stile that leads into the field. The plaque reads "Lanyon Quoit - Given to the National Trust by Sir Edward Bolitho of Tiengwainion in 1952". After the enormity of Trethevy Quoit this looks positively tiny, like it?s from the model village at Polperro, or Legoland in Windsor. Strange.
Driving north from Penzance the quoite became visible on the skyline to the left after a number of bends we parked and had to ask an American for directions. It was over the fence on the right hand side of the road about 30 yards away. Took the postcard photos and on to Men-an-Tol
I travelled to Lanyon on a horrible,
rainy day to take away the dullness
of staying in Camborne for a week.
When i got there the whole place was shrouded in mist and i couldn't see the quoit at all. After stepping in some horrible puddles i finally arrived - what a place, the atmosphere was amazing! After that i tried to find Men-an-tol, but as
i carried on up the path i heard a wild animal or something so i shit myself and ran back to the car!
The dimensions of the cap-stone are thus given by Borlase: - "This quoit is more than forty-seven feet in girt, and nineteen feet long; its thickness in the middle on the eastern edge is sixteen inches, at each end not so much, but at the western edge it is two feet thick."
The cromlech is sometimes called by the country people the Giant's Quoit, and occasionally the Giant's Table. My measurement made the covering-stone forty-six feet in circumference, with a thickness varying from ten to eighteen inches. It is not improbable that the stone has been chipped off at one or two of the corners since the time of Borlase. Between the cromlech and the road are the remains of a stone and earth circular barrow about eighteen feet in diameter.
There is an odd tradition that the first battle fought in England was decided in the locality of Lanyon Quoit.
Many Cornish tourist sites on the internet point out that the quoit was where King Arthur stopped for a bite to eat before his last battle. Perhaps he was in his larger-than-life giant guise and used it as a table.
On the 10th instant, this celebrated stone, which weighs about thirteen tons, and which fell from its ancient situation on the night of the 19th October, 1815, during one of the most violent and destructive storms of wind ever remembered in that part of the country, was replaced by the united and indefatigable exertions of Lieut. GOLDSMITH and Capt. GIDDY, with the aid of the materials and machinery employed about the Logan Rock, and which the Honourable Navy Board consented to grant them for so laudable a purpose.
From 'The Morning Post', December 16th, 1824. Goldsmith and Giddy must have been on a roll and thought they might as well sort out the quoit after their success at the superb Treryn Dinas. I suppose Goldsmith thought people might then let him off for toppling the logan stone in the first place?!
Much reconstructed and abused by treasure hunters and mineral prospectors, the capstone was recorded as becoming dislodged during a violent thunderstorm in the early 19th century, when one of the supporting stones was broken. (Must've been one HELLUVA lightening strike!) The whole structure had already been weakened by soil removal during successive 'explorations'.
The capstone was replaced in 1824, but a piece broke apparently broke off during reconstruction. The capstone was replaced upon repositioned uprights, buried to a deeper level for more stability.
Prior to the reconstruction, it is said that a man on horseback could pass with ease beneath the capstone.
Taken from Ian Cooke's 'Antiquities of West Cornwall', 1990