The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

St. Agnes Beacon



Age and neglect have done their fell work on the well; and I am indebted, through a friend, for these recollections of an intelligent old lady who knew the place in childhood, and gives sketches of what she remembers of it. I place this well among the medicinal wells on the authority of Lysons, who ascribes to it many miraculous sanitary qualities, although it was resorted to for its divinatory gifts chiefly.

My friend writes that this well existed in an entire state till about 1820. Over it was a little Gothic edifice, which gave the name of Porth Chapel to the spot, and Chapel Coombe to the valley and adjoining cove. It was on the western side of St. Agnes beacon, in a narrow dell descending to the sea. The situation, as is not infrequent with these buildings, is wild and weird in the extreme. Not a cottage nor a tree is to be found; a bleak heathy common, relieved by a few furze bushes, and rugged volcanic rocks, are the only objects that meet the eye.

The destruction of the chapel and its well was effected by time, and lack of faith and reverence. It is said that the principal depradators, who carried away the stone to build a hedge, said, when remonstrated with, 'What's the good of a well without water?'

The well had indeed been drained by the delvings of the miners in a work below. The name of 'Giant's Well' was given to it by the country folk, in memory of a giant who once lived near it, and was accustomed to drink of the fountain. There were the marks of his thumbs indented on a stone in the well, and near it, on another, the print of his foot, very large, and very like a footmark. Pins were dropped in with wishes as in many other parts of Cornwall. -- T.Q.C.
From 'Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall' by M and L Quiller-Couch (1894).

"Lysons" refers to the Rev. Daniel Lysons' "Magna Britannia" here of 1806, in which he says: "Near this spot [Porth-Chapel] is St. Agnes' Well, of which many miraculous stories are told; the water is of an excellent quality, and much esteemed. ... St. Agnes Beacon, formed out of an ancient cairn or tumulus of stones, was kept ready for use a few years ago during the apprehension of invasion, and was attended by two soldiers.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th April 2012ce
Edited 10th April 2012ce

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