Trethevy Quoit, Cornwall


Trethevy Quoit, surrounded by a grassy field
Neolithic single-chambered tomb of five upright stones and a large capstone, in a field on the south side of Bodmin Moor
Along the unnamed road north of Tremar; PL14 5JY
A quoit is a megalithic tomb of one chamber, also known as a cromlech, dolmen or portal tomb. Quoits seem to be restricted to Cornwall, where around 20 examples have been identified; one of the largest is the Trethevy Quoit, in a field just north of the village of Tremar, close to the south edge of Bodmin Moor. Older maps show the name as the Trethevystone.

It would seem that all or most quoits were not actually used as burial sites but rather as a centre for burial offerings and funerary rituals, perhaps used when any member of the community died rather than being the final resting place for a particular person of high status.

The monument is difficult to date with precision, instead only to the middle Neolithic period, approximately between 3500 and 2500 BC. Trethevy is the only quoit in the county managed by English Heritage, reflecting its size and importance; it is open to visitors all year without restrictions.

West side of Trethevy Quoit
West side of Trethevy Quoit

The Stones

Trethevy Quoit is reached by an unnamed lane, half a mile north of Tremar village. A five-space carpark is provided, and entry is via a gate into the field on the west side. The quoit is 9 feet tall and consists of five standing stones of differing height, holding a large slanted capstone, weighing around 20 tons. The angle of tilt is more than when the monument was built since one of the supporting stones has partially collapsed. The stones are surrounded by the faint remnants of the circular earthen mound that once covered the whole structure, with the exception of the east side, where a passageway accessed the central chamber. The capstone contains a smooth round hole, thought to be natural, and possibly used for astronomical observations.

Trethevy Quoit, from the south
The quoit, from the south