FactWelcome to a new occasional series of Fascinating “Facts”, in which we’ll endeavour to  present short snippets of history, folklore and news about Britain’s prehistoric heritage sites. Each article will be brief and to the point, and we’ll be looking to our readership (that’s YOU!) to provide some insight into a site that may be local to where you live or work, or that you’ve had some connection with in the past. Please get in touch with your own Fascinating “Facts” and we’ll publish them here.  So without further ado, the first Fascinating “Fact” concerns:

Zennor Quoit, Cornwall

This chamber tomb, having stood for thousands of years on a hilltop overlooking the parish of Zennor on West Penwith’s north coast road, was threatened with destruction in 1861. A local farmer proposed to convert the monument into a cattle–shed by removing one of the uprights and drilling a hole in the sloping capstone.

Zennor Quoit in 1769, drawn by WIlliam Borlase.  Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Zennor Quoit in 1769, drawn by WIlliam Borlase. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Luckily, the plan was disapproved of by the villagers of Zennor (an early case of NIMBYism?) and the local vicar, William Borlase – a great grandson of Dr. William Borlase the antiquarian – offered the farmer an incentive of five shillings (25p in today’s money, though worth considerable more then) to build it elsewhere. The farmer had already started on construction of the barn, and three stone posts which he’d erected can still be seen today, next to the quoit. Traces of drill–holes can also still be seen in the capstone.

A poem commemorating the incident, “Zennor Quoit Preserved”, written by local postman Charles Taylor Stephens can be found in Issue 10 (pg 73) of the Transactions of the Cornwall Archaeological Society.

Zennor Quoit today. © Jane Tomlinson

Zennor Quoit today. © Jane Tomlinson

Who knows what the site would have looked like today if William Borlase hadn’t stepped in on behalf of the villagers?