An early chapel near Perranporth, associated with Cornwall’s patron saint of St Piran, could be preserved for future generations.

Archaeologists from Cornwall Council’s historic environment service and volunteers from the area have carried out a small excavation at the site of St Piran’s Oratory.

Working with Cornwall Council, the St Piran Trust is looking at whether it is possible to uncover the oratory and carry out conservation work to make the monument accessible for present and future generations.

The oratory is an early Christian chapel with attached cemetery. It was twice excavated in the mid-nineteenth century.

In 1910, a concrete shell was put over the structure to protect it. By 1980, due to flooding and other problems, the outer shell was partly removed and the oratory once again covered with sand.

The main focus of the recent work was to dig a trench across the mound covering the oratory in order to find out the depth at which the remains would be found.

Two other small pits were dug to understand the nature of the below-ground remains and a well-preserved burial in a cist grave was found in one of the pits.

Perran Penrose, chairman of the St Piran Trust, was one of the volunteers who took part in the excavation. He said: “This is exciting news. When I saw the blocks from the top of the concrete shell emerge slowly from the sand I felt that after all this time the end is in sight, and we hope to see the ancient oratory uncovered in the next year or two.”