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Near Pendeen house is one of those ancient caves called vaus or faus. It consists of three passages; the first runs in a straight line, and is twenty-eight feet in length; at it’s extremity two others branch off, one on each side. The sides are walled up, and incline towards each other at the top, the better to receive the flat slabs with which the cave is covered. It is uncertain as to the use caves of this sort were appropriated, although they are generally supposed to have been places of security for the ancient Britons, or for the contraband commodities of the smuggler.
The Pendeen Vau is partially fallen in; the outer or first passage may be followed to its extremity, but the fallen stones obstruct further exploration. It was for a long time regarded with superstitious notions by the inhabitants of the locality, and was supposed by them to communicate with the sea, half a mile distant, and to be the haunt of some dreadful hobgoblin.
A little below the old mansion is Pendeen Cove, where a few fishing boats are kept but so little shelter is there that the boats are drawn up by ropes or chains, and kept during the winter, on the sloping surface of the cliff. There is also a coastguard stationed here.
At a short distance from Pendeen house is Boscaswell, where it is said, formerly existed an ancient castle. Here were once found near a hundred Roman coins; among others several of Antoninus-Pius.
In a small garden in this village will be found the entrance to one of those subterraneous caverns which are not uncommon in this neighbourhood, called Fogou, ‘a hiding place.’ There is in a croft called the Reins, on Trewellard, a pair of circles built of large stones set on edge within and without, and the interstice filled with earth about four feet high, opening one into the other. The diameter of the eastern circle within is about 24 feet. The, western one is elliptical measuring about 30 feet by 20.
At Trevegan, the giant’s village, a grave of extraordinary size was found.
Bartinè or Bartinney Castle, is situated on the top of a hill 689 feet above the level of the sea. It has only one vallum with no outer ditch. Within the circular enclosure of earth are three small circles edged with stones on their ends, and Contiguous to each other; one is nine yards in diameter, the others seven.
The name Bartinè signifies the lighted eminence, or the hill of fires. The Druids, it is said, had their fires on the eve of November, to which the people were obliged to resort and re-kindle the private fires in their houses from the consecrated fires of the Druids, the domestic fire having been for that purpose first carefully extinguished.
On Midsummer-day, in modern times, the inhabitants, of this parish were greeted with sounds resembling the discharge of musketry in different directions, proceeding from holes bored in rocks, which being charged with powder were exploded in succession; and on the same day a new flag was displayed on every mine, and the night was ushered in with noisy festivities, and bonfires blazing on many of the hills.
Many urns have been found at different times in this parish. They were mostly discovered in the barrows which had been raised over them for protection. In the year 1733, Ralph Williams, a yeoman, in removing a barrow on the tenement of Chycarn, discovered a great number of urns, finely carved and full of human bones.
At Bosavern Rôs, in 1754, Dr. Borlase examined three barrows and found many urns of various sizes. He also found the carcass of a man at full length. Many yours after when an enclosure was being made on the same common, the workmen cut across the remains of all old barrow, and on the level with the surface of the surrounding soil found three urns of coarse clay, which had unfortunately broken; they contained calcined bones and ashes.
At Cairn VrêsVrês, the rock of judgement the top stone stands on so small a base as to resemble a logan rock; on this is a rock bason. A barrow near this cairn was opened, when a perfectly walled grave was found containing an urn; this grave was not covered again; it is about six feet long and four feet wide in the middle, and contracted at the extremities. This barrow is said to cover several such graves. In another part of the parish a barrow was opened, and a kist-vaen found in its centre, in which was an ornamented urn, with several others placed side by side around it, being altogether fifty in number.
Of the Botallack circles very little remains. “Fronting the gate of Botalac town place”, writes Borlase, “there is a most remarkable miz maze, if I may so term it, of stones set on end, which if Ducaleon himself had thrown behind his back could not sufficiently stood up in greater disorder than they at present appear, but viewing them diligently this March 6th, 1737, I find the largest circle monument there of any I yet have met with, with several subordinate circles, some touching the circumferences, some breaking within it; together with two large erected stones, not many paces from the principal ring.”
Cairn Kenidjack, Kentjac, or Kenidzhek, the hooting cairn, stands near the northern road from this parish to Penzance, and being 640 feet above the level of the sea, it is a conspicuous object for many miles around. Near this extraordinary and gloomy pile of rocks, are other cairns, several stone circles, and numerous barrows.
“Castle Carnujack,” writes Norden, “the ruynes of an auntiente castle, sett at the verie north-weste pointe of the landes ende, upon a loftie craggie rocke, where yet appeare the ruined walls and forlorne trenches.”
The Phoenicians and Greeks, having traded to those parts for many centuries, it might reasonably be expected that some vestiges of their religion should occasionally be found.
In 1832, a workman who was employed at the vicarage in pulling down an old stone hedge, discovered the foundation of an old building, and from the quantity of ashes near, it was supposed that the premises had been burnt. Near this place the labourer found a bronze figure of a bull, about two inches in length. It was shown to some of the, most learned antiquaries of London, who pronounced it to be Phoenician It was presented to the Museum at Truro, where it may still be seen. At a short distance from the place where this figure was discovered, was found a small plate of iron about the size of the hand, much corroded, to which was attached a sixpence of one of the Edwards.
Cape Cornwall is 229 feet above the sea level. Nearly a mile southwest of the cape are the Brisons, two very dangerous rocks, rising about 65 feet above high-water mark; they are sometimes called the Sisters. In the Cornish language Brison or Breson means a prison; and tradition says these rocks were anciently used as such. A melancholy wreck occurred here within the last twenty years.
During a thick fog and a strong gale, early on a Saturday morning, a brig bound from Liverpool to the Spanish main, struck between those rocks and immediately broke up. The crew consisting of nine men, and the Captain’s wife, got on the 1edge. They were discovered from the shore as soon as day broke, but it was not possible to render them any assistance. In this condition they remained until about nine o’clock, when a wave washed them all off. Seven out of the ten were drowned. Of the remaining three, one a mulatto, contrived to get on a portion of the wreck, and after beating about for some hours, he managed with remarkable presence of mind, by means of a plank which he used as a paddle, and a piece of canvas which served him for a sail, to keep Clear of the boiling surf. While thus struggling for life, five fishermen belonging to Senncn launched their boat, and succeeded, after encountering great risk, in rescuing him.
When the captain and his wife were carried off the ledge, they were washed to the Little Brison. The captain first gained a footing, and then assisted his wife and for some time both were in comparative safety. Whilst the fishermen were engaged in saving the mulatto, the revenue cutter from Penzance came round the Land’s End, being ordered to the scene of the wreck by the commander. A boat put off from her but was soon compelled to return. The gale still continuing nothing more could be done for the day; so the cutter lay to and hoisted her colours to let the sufferers know they were not deserted.
On Sunday morning the wind abated a little and several boats put off but none could approach within a hundred yards of the rock. At last the coast-guard boat, commanded by Captain Davies, proceeded at great risk to throw a line by a rocket; the first fell short, but the second reached the captain who fastened it around his wife’s waist, but when she was drawn to the boat life was nearly extinct, and she died before they reached the shore; the captain, though greatly exhausted, was saved.
The following relating to this parish, will be interesting to many of our readers.
Peter Ceely, Esq., to whom the following commission was granted, was a major under Cromwell, and during the Commonwealth held seine lands in S. Just, but he left no posterity.
Oliver, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions there unto belonging, to Peter Ceely, Esq., Greeting,
We do hereby constitute and appoint you, Peter Ceely, to be a Captaine of a Troope of horse, consisting of one hundred of such well affected persons as shall voluntary list themselves under you in the County of Cornwall. Which troope you are by virtue of this commission to receive into your charge as Captaine, and diligently to exercise and keep the same, in good order and discipline, hereby requiring and commanding all inferior Officers and Soldiers of the said Troop to be obedient to you as their Captaine, * * * such orders and directions as you shall from time to time receive from ourselfe or the superior officers of the Army according to the discipline of warr. Given at Whitehall the 28th May, 1655. L.S.
The following orders were afterwards issued by Major Ceely to Captain Francis Arundell.
You are Imediatly to March with yor Squadron to Penzance and there to quarter untyll ffarther order. In case any tumults or disturbbanse of the pease of ye Nation, you are to suppress it the best way you may, and give mee an accompt from tyme to tyme as you have occasion, dated 4th Jan., 1659.
To Capt. ffrancis Arundell, These.
If you see occasion you may Quarter your squadron at St. Just, or ph. of St. or any other place that at Discretion keeping Intelligence with the Mount.
Cornwall, St. Just in Penwth.—Wee whose names are under written doe freely & voluntaryly engage & pledg to be true & faithful to his Highness the Lord Protector Against all forreigne invadors or dysturbtrs of the peace of this Nation as it is now setled under the Command of his highness when soever wee bee there unto required of the defence of ye County to the ut most of or. power, & here unto have subscribed or. hands the 1: day of May, 1658.
Under the Command of Captn. ffrancis Arundell.
Endorsed,—St. Juste Pnth. Liste of Men taken the 5th May, 1658, 155 men. In all the Lists this dash / is for such as willingly subscribed: these without it, Excep the old Souldiers : are refusers.
Among those who subscribed will be found the names of Busvargus, Ustick, Banfield, Edmonds, Mullfra, Williams, Guy, Tonkin, Gillbart, Bennett, Stoyle, Ellis, Coode, Oattes, Davy, Grenfil, Nicholas, Tregego, Bottrell, Pender, Edwards, Hansford, Hartland, Penburthy, Robarts, Lawry, Jago, Lawrence, and Drake; nearly all marked as willing subscribers.
A facsimile of this document may be found in [Buller 1842].
Dr. Borlase endorsed this document, many years subsequently,—“N.B. The Borlases of Pendeen are not among these subscribers,—they were for the King.”
One of the commonwealth regulations was that the parish registers should be placed in other hands than those of the clergy; accordingly the Rev. A. Mason, the then vicar, had the register taken from him, and another person recommended to the agent for the Parliament by the following certificate.
We whose names are subscribed, the Inhabitants of the Psh. afrore sd. doe certifie your Worship that Anthony Warden of oure parish, is an honest and able man to Register, the first of November, 1653.
John Usticke, Sen.
Charles Ellis. Henry Usticke.
John Rowelings, John Edwards.
Humphery Stone, }
Martyn Angwin, }Constables
St. Ives, 5th 9ber, 1653.
Sworne and approved by P. Ceely.
The following is extracted from the parish register, under the date of June, 1648.
“Barnard Welch died of the plague, and presently after him Michael French and his wife and all his children, and were buryed in Bossworn near the place where they died, In November, eod.: an: (Same year) several died of the plague.”
A history of S. Neot, both with reference to the parish of that name in this county, and the town of S. Neots, in Huntingdonshire, was published in 1820, by the Rev. G. C. Gorham, vicar of this parish.
The Rev. John Buller, LL.B. published in 1842, A Statistical Account of the Parish of S. Just in Penwith, in the County of Cornwall, with some notice of its Ecclesiastical and Druidical Antiquities; in a thin volume octavo.[Buller 1842]
A little below the town of S. Just, in Nancherrow Valley, is an iron foundry, established many years ago by the present proprietor, Mr. Holman, for the purpose of supplying the various requirements in that way of the numerous surrounding mines.
The principal villages of the parish are Botallack, Bosavern, Bray, Kelinack, Pendeen, Trewellard, Hendra, Carrallack, Carnyorth, Bosorne, Bostraze, and Tregeseal.
Among the chief landowners will be found the names of Lord Falmouth; Borlase, Millett, and Tremayne, Esquires.
On the tenement of Dowran a singular course of stream tin was found in 1738; the tin ground was between twelve and eighteen inches in depth, and of various breadths. It was first discovered in a moor, having on it a stratum of black soil and gravel about two feet thick. But as the tin course advanced more to the hill, it had a still thicker covering; till entering the rising ground it had all Dowran hill upon it, which was about forty feet in perpendicular height above it, while the tin ground pursued its original horizontal direction,—a rare phenomenon.
At Pornanven a raised beach may be seen; a stratum of rounded boulders and pebbles may be seen in the cliff, elevated many feet above the present line of high water, having the superincumbent-hill of more than a hundred feet in height resting on it.
To the mineralogist and geologist this is a most interesting locality, and probably there is not another parish in the county which has so many species and varieties of metallic and earthy minerals, or which presents to view so many geological peculiarities.
This parish has been remarkable from time immemorial for producing tin; but it is only of late years that it has been discovered to be as rich to the mineralogist as to the miner and the merchant. Indeed, so different is it from every other part of the county that geological discoveries which would be deemed extraordinary elsewhere excite but little astonishment here.
Among the valuable specimens of minerals found here may be named, triciliate of iron, sulphuret of bismuth, native copper, specular iron ore, hydrous oxide of iron. Native gold and silver have been found in small quantities; also, lead, bismuth, cobalt, arsenic, zinc, antinomy, uranium, etc.
The parish, with the exception of a narrow band of slate which skirts the coast from Pendeen Cove to Cape Cornwall, is situated entirely on granite. It has long been celebrated for its mines, which are generally situated on or near the junction of the granite and the slate; and in consequence of the narrow limits of the latter rock, their workings often extend under the sea. The slate has a basis of compact felspar, and exhibits many interesting varieties of this rock; but the most rare is that which abounds with disseminated garnets at Botallack.
The Cornish diamonds found in this parish have been much admired, particularly those of Huel Diamond, many of which were, opaque on the outside, but perfectly transparent within.
The principal lodes of the parish are somewhat peculiar in their direction, and the little coves are generally covered with beds of diluvium some of which are composed of granitic pebbles and boulders, which appear to have once formed a beach, although at present they are elevated above High-water mark.
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