Dolmen, or megalithic tomb, on moorland in far west Cornwall, consisting of four large stones; somewhat altered from its original appearance following a collapse in 1815
Along the unnamed road between Madron and Morvah; TR20 8NY
A quoit, or dolmen, is a megalithic tomb - a single chambered structure, enclosed by stones, from the Neolithic era. Lanyon Quoit, named after the nearby settlement of Lanyon, is a particularly fine example, and consists of a flat caprock on three upright stones, surrounded by empty moorland in far west Cornwall, within sight of the sea to the north and south; the most famous of approximately eight quoits in this area of the county.
The stones are situated right next to a road, the little-travelled route between Madron and Morvah, and are owned and managed by the National Trust, after the monument and the surrounding land where donated by the then owner, Edward Bolitho, in 1952.
The quoit was erected sometime between 3,500 and 2,500 BC; it now consists of a 17 foot long capstone, weighing approximately 12 tons, atop three support stones. All are made of granite. The stones once formed an entrance, at the north end, of an elongated burial mound, stretching 90 feet to the south, the outline of which is still evident. At the far end are a few partly buried stones that probably enclosed the actual burial chamber.
The appearance of the quoit is somewhat changed from its original aspect following a storm in 1815 when the stones collapsed, their foundations probably weakened by people digging beneath, looking for artefacts. Prior to this, the capstone had four supports (as shown by an 18th century illustration) but after the storm one was broken into pieces while the others were also damaged. The remaining supports had to be shortened to allow re-erection of the caprock, which is now around five feet above the ground; originally it was eight feet or more high, allowing people to walk and even ride horseback underneath. Reconstruction was not until nine years after the storm, following a campaign to raise money.