Portal dolmens are funerary and ceremonial monuments of the Early and Middle Neolithic period, the dated examples showing construction in the period 3500- 2600 BC.
As burial monuments of Britain's early farming communities, they are among the oldest visible field monuments to survive in the present landscape. A massive capstone covers the chamber, and some examples show traces of a low cairn or platform around it. Some sites have traces of a kerb around the cairn and certain sites show a forecourt area often edged by a facade of upright stones.
Little is yet known about the form of the primary burial rites. At the few excavated sites, pits and postholes have been recorded within and in front of the chamber, containing charcoal and cremated bone; some chamber contents of soil and stones may be original blocking deposits.
A Historical Tale
“The Cromlech fell down about the year 1842, the late EWW Pendarves re-erected it. They levered up the top stone with some batons and blocked it up with blocks of wood until it was high enough to slide it in place.
Carwynnen Quoit was first noted in 1700 by the Welsh antiquarian Edward Lhuyd on his travels around Cornwall. It was first illustrated in 1750 by William Borlase. An engraving by John Grieg made from a drawing by William Couling shows it to be an impressive monument.
We are working on an Oral History project. Some recordings have been made to use as 'voice overs' for the film about the project. If you, like Paul and Freda, have any memories of the Cromlech or its surrounding landscape, and would like to share them, please get in touch.
John Welham, Education Officer for the Cornwall Heritage Trust, has prepared two packs to be used in schools. One was created in 2009 and is about the Giant's Quoit. It can be downloaded as a PDF.