Carne Beacon

Cornwall Information & Accommodation Guide

Carne Beacon is a Bronze Age barrow on the outskirts of Veryan Churchtown.

The mound (tumulus) is one of the largest in the UK with a circumference of 370 feet (113 metres) and 28 feet (6 metres) at its highest point. It stands at one of the highest points on The Roseland with stunning views over Gerrans Bay.

The barrow is accessible via a gate and a flight of wooden steps.

Local folklore suggests the beacon is the burial site of the Cornish King Gerennius (Gerrenius, Geraint, Gereint, Gerent) of Dumnonia, a tribal chieftain from the 6th century.

Robert Hunt’s ‘Popular Romances of the West of England’ states:

"A tradition has been preserved in the neighbourhood, that Gerennius, an old Cornish saint and king, whose palace stood on the other side of Gerrans Bay, between Trewithian and the sea, was buried in this mound many centuries ago, and that a golden boat with silver oars were used in conveying his corpse across the hay, and were interred with him. Part of this tradition receives confirmation from an account incidentally given of King Gerennius, in an old book called the 'Register of Llandaff.'

It is there stated that, A.D. 588, Teliau, bishop of Llandaff, with some of his suffragan bishops, and many of his followers, fled from Wales, to escape an epidemic called the yellow plague, and migrated to Dole in Brittany, to visit Sampson, the archbishop of that place, who was a countryman and friend of Teliau's. 'On his way thither,' says the old record, 'he came first to the region of Cornwall, and was well received by Gerennius, the king of that country, who treated him and his people with all honour. From thence he proceeded to Armories, and remained there seven years and seven months; when, hearing that the plague had ceased in Britain, he collected his followers, -caused a large bark to be prepared, and returned to Wales.' 'In this,' the record proceeds, 'they all arrived at the port called Din.Gerein, king Gerennius lying in the last extreme of life, who when he had received the body of the Lord from the hand of St Teliau, departed in joy to the Lord.'

'Probably,' says Whitaker, in his remarks on this quotation, 'the royal remains were brought in great pomp by water from Din-Gerein, on the western shore of the port, to Came, about two miles off on the northern; the barge with the royal body was plated, perhaps, with gold in places; perhaps, too, rowed with oars having equally plates of silver upon them; and the pomp of the procession has mixed confusedly with the interment of the body in the memory of tradition.' "

A legend tells us that St Just, son of King Geraint, had been converted to Christianity by the Irish female saint, Boriana (Buryan). St Just in Roseland, is named for him. A St Geraint is celebrated on the 16th May.

There is no archaeological evidence for the existence of this boat. The tumulus was excavated in 1855 when a cairn of stones containing a cist containing ashes, charcoal and dust was found. Several secondary cremations were also found.

Further investigation of the tumulus in 1977 found it to be in good condition.

During World War II it became the first above ground aircraft lookout post in Cornwall See Veryan for details.

Not far from here to the north are the earthworks, Veryan Castle (or Veryan Rounds), a small Iron Age hill fort now known as the ‘Ringarounds’.

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OS Grid ref SW 9126 3863

1 mile from Veryan Churchtown along a lane and then a public footpath across fields. Half a mile from the hamlet of Carne via public footpaths.

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