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

Harlyn Bay


Magic doesn't yet have any information on this location, though it does list it as a scheduled monument, being a prehistoric cemetery. The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro has some of the finds. The following are extracts from chapter 9 of 'A Book of Folk-lore' by Sabine Baring-Gould [1913], online at:
In September 1900, I received a summons to go to Padstow in Cornwall, as at Harlyn Bay near there a prehistoric necropolis had been discovered in blown sand that had been carried some way inland and was hard compacted. A gentleman had bought a field there, and was about to build a house. I found that he was impatient to get his dwelling ready before winter, or, at all events, have the foundations and walls got on with, and he would not allow a slow and careful exploration. It had to be done in a hurry. What was more, and even worse, the fact of the discovery got into the Cornish and Devon papers. The season was that of tourists. The owner charged sixpence a head for visitors, and they came in swarms, pushing everywhere, poking about the skeletons and skulls with their umbrellas and parasols, scrabbling in the graves in quest of "finds", and from the moment this rabble appeared on the scene no work could be done save protection of what had already been uncovered. A more distressing and disappointing exploration could not be imagined. However, some points were determined.

More than a hundred graves were uncovered; they were composed of boxes of slate in which the skeleton sat crouched, mainly, but not exclusively, on the right side. Some were of females, some of mothers with their infants in their arms. No skull was discovered that indicated death through violence, and all skeletons were complete. Some of the coffins were in layers, one above another; rudely speaking, they pointed east and west, the heads being to the west; but what governed the position seemed to be the slope of the hill, that fell away somewhat steeply from the south to the north.

Some bronze fibulae were found, finely drawn armlets of bronze wire making spiral convolutions about the wrist, a necklace of very small amber and blue glass beads strung on this bronze wire; a good deal of iron so corroded that, what with the friability and the meddlesomeness of the visitors, who would finger everything exhumed, it was not possible to make out more than that they did not represent fragments of weapons...

There were found at the time a great many needles and prongs of slate, which were afterwards exhibited on the spot and sold to tourists as stone spearheads. They were no such thing. They were splinters of a soft local slate that had been rolled by the wind and grated by the sand into the shape they assumed, and such are found all through the district...

On the right hand of the way, coming from Padstow, probably more of the necropolis remains, and it is earnestly to be desired that it may at some time be scientifically examined, without the intrusion of the ignorant and vulgar being permitted...
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
13th January 2007ce
Edited 14th January 2007ce

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