Work starts uncovering St Piran's Oratory: PICTURES

Falmouth Packet: All ages arrived to help All ages arrived to help

Today marked the start of the physical work to uncover St Piran's Oratory near Perranporth, despite the rain.

Members of St Piran Trust gathered as Eileen Carter, founder of the trust formally started the excavation.

Following a 15-year-campaign, the St Piran Trust plans to unearth and conserve St Piran’s Oratory, believed to be amongst the oldest Christian buildings on mainland Britain. 

The site has been of central importance to Cornish people for over 1,400 years as a place of worship and pilgrimage, and as a focus for cultural expression. Today, many hundreds of people gather at the site annually to mark St Piran’s Day. 

The scheduled ancient monument is a listed building and was buried in 1980, for “its own protection”. Since then expert opinion has shifted, amid calls for it to be uncovered and conserved in a more sympathetic way.

The Oratory is a key cultural icon for Cornwall.  Its precise date has yet to be determined but it is certainly early medieval and likely replaced a yet earlier structure, which tradition suggests was built by St Piran himself.

Perranporth resident Eileen Carter formed the St Piran Trust in 2000 to campaign for its excavation and future protection.

The Trust’s project has been drawn out as the Oratory lies within a Special Area of Conservation – one of the most protected landscapes in Europe.  As a result, a huge amount of preparatory work and investigation was required before permission to excavate could be granted.

Last summer, the Trust awarded a contract to Cornwall Council’s Historic Environment Service to start exploratory works which will now lead to the full excavation, preservation and interpretation of this historic site. 

The trust is asking the public to get involved and become part of history – either by volunteering to help and/or by donating funds. Visit www.stpiran.org for more detail

Falmouth Packet:

Eileen Carter, below, founder of the trust, dug out the first spade full of earth

Falmouth Packet:

Sarah Newton MP and St Piran Trustee David Barrie - laughing despite the rain

Falmouth Packet:

 

Comments (4)

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6:16pm Mon 17 Feb 14

Gillian R.Z. Martin says...

"The scheduled ancient monument is a listed building and was buried in 1980 for its own protection".
"Since then expert opinion has shifted"

Seems a strange idea to me to bury a listed building to 'protect' it.
In my view it does not give the so called 'experts' much credibility. What was the point burying a listed building rendering it unappreciable by many.
I wonder how long it will be be before they introduce a charge to visit the site.
"The scheduled ancient monument is a listed building and was buried in 1980 for its own protection". "Since then expert opinion has shifted" Seems a strange idea to me to bury a listed building to 'protect' it. In my view it does not give the so called 'experts' much credibility. What was the point burying a listed building rendering it unappreciable by many. I wonder how long it will be be before they introduce a charge to visit the site. Gillian R.Z. Martin
  • Score: 3

7:55pm Mon 17 Feb 14

Gillian R.Z. Martin says...

Perhaps Helston Town Council should have buried the Penrose Road CAST building to protect it from decay.
Perhaps Helston Town Council should have buried the Penrose Road CAST building to protect it from decay. Gillian R.Z. Martin
  • Score: 6

9:25pm Mon 17 Feb 14

Helston fly on the wall says...

Gillian R.Z. Martin wrote:
"The scheduled ancient monument is a listed building and was buried in 1980 for its own protection".
"Since then expert opinion has shifted"

Seems a strange idea to me to bury a listed building to 'protect' it.
In my view it does not give the so called 'experts' much credibility. What was the point burying a listed building rendering it unappreciable by many.
I wonder how long it will be be before they introduce a charge to visit the site.
Oh, how very 'Christian like' of the person that thumbed down your personal opinion. 'experts' that can't make their minds up. Why change their minds and dig it up now? Pay as you pray maybe?
[quote][p][bold]Gillian R.Z. Martin[/bold] wrote: "The scheduled ancient monument is a listed building and was buried in 1980 for its own protection". "Since then expert opinion has shifted" Seems a strange idea to me to bury a listed building to 'protect' it. In my view it does not give the so called 'experts' much credibility. What was the point burying a listed building rendering it unappreciable by many. I wonder how long it will be be before they introduce a charge to visit the site.[/p][/quote]Oh, how very 'Christian like' of the person that thumbed down your personal opinion. 'experts' that can't make their minds up. Why change their minds and dig it up now? Pay as you pray maybe? Helston fly on the wall
  • Score: 3

9:37am Tue 18 Feb 14

Helston fly on the wall says...

With all the problems Cornwall faces at the moment I would rather see MP Sarah Newton getting publicity for involving herself with something more important.
With all the problems Cornwall faces at the moment I would rather see MP Sarah Newton getting publicity for involving herself with something more important. Helston fly on the wall
  • Score: 6

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