St Piran's Oratory

St Piran's Oratory

St Piran's oratory lay buried under the sand dunes near Perranporth for nearly a millennium, until 1835 when some stones were noticed, sticking out from the dunes. It was excavated and found to be in remarkably good condition. The building is thought to be from around the 11th Century although burials on the site suggest a previous building might have existed in the 9th Century. Within the oratory, one of the walls contains a stone inscribed with upside-down Roman capitals which is thought to date back to the 6th or possibly even the 5th century but where this came from originally is unknown.

After it was excavated in Victorian times, quite a number of the stones were stolen as "souvenirs" and it suffered constant erosion by wind, sand and rain; eventually two of the walls collapsed. In 1910, an ugly concrete bunker was built over the oratory to protect it. In the 1980s, the bunker was removed and the remains of the oratory were reburied beneath the sand to protect it from both the elements and vandals. The oratory once again lay beneath the sand with a small mound marking it. Steps led to the top, on which a small granite stone sat, inscribed with the words St Piran.

In 2000 a trust was set up to re-excavate the Oratory. Work began in October 2013, and the Oratory is now uncovered.

In 2014, the skeletons of 2 adults and 10 children were excavated which have been dated to the 8th or 9th Century. These predate the St Piran's Oratory building and it is thought that they may relate to an earlier building on the site.

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