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Introduction to site

In the early nineteenth century, the remains of fifteen or more Bronze Age Tumuli – burial mounds constructed over 3000 years ago – could be seen, strung along the grassy headland between the beaches of Lusty Glaze and Tolcarne. Only three members of this cemetery are still conspicuous today; slight traces remain of one or two others and a further nine are visible only as cropmarks on air photos.

The site is easily accessible by foot, and there are footpaths across the Barrowfields. There are pedestrian access points onto the site from Lusty Glaze Road and Narrowcliff road (next to the Crazy Golf kiosk and also opposite the Hotel Bristol). The South West Coast Path also rounds this headland.

On-street parking is available in the surrounding area where permitted, and there are numerous car parks signposted within the town of Newquay, including at Lusty Glaze Beach, on Narrowcliff road next to the Marina Hotel and at Trenance.

The site is free to visit, and is open any reasonable time in daylight hours.

There are seasonal refreshments available at the Crazy Golf kiosk on the Barrowfields and public toilet facilities nearby at Narrowcliff, and numerous refreshment facilities located in the town of Newquay.

There are regular bus services to 'opposite Barrowfields', and train services to Newquay station. Visit the Traveline website for customised sustainable transport options.

View our interactive Access to Monuments map to find this and other nearby sites.

The Tithe Award map of 1839 gives the field-names “Burrows” and Burrows Moor” to this area, suggesting the site of a barrow group, but the only description of the site prior to the destruction of most of the burial mounds is contained in an article in the West Briton which described ‘about fifteen’ barrows on the cliff top placed nearly in a straight line, some being connected by curving earth mounds.

Some of the barrows were destroyed when earth taken from the mounds was used to ‘manure’ the nearby fields, but several were partially excavated. These excavations, carried out according to the standards of the day, revealed mounds of burnt stones and cinerary urns containing cremated bones. A cist – a small stone-lined burial chamber – was found in one barrow, and in another, an unusual uncremated inhumation burial was contained within a long stone-lined grave divided into two chambers covered by a large flat stone. Flint flakes and arrowheads were also recovered and some of these are now held by Plymouth Museum whilst two of the urns can be viewed at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro.

Barrows are often sited on higher ground, on exposed slopes and along coastal margins and their grassy mounds usually represent the culmination of many phases of use. Although the monuments which we see today are conventionally ascribed to the Bronze Age, they may have undergone many transformations in form, function and appearance. Their position in the landscape suggests they were intended to be very visible to their local communities, perhaps in this case also from the sea, and although there was probably a common underlying ideology concerning burial and ancestral memory, there are many variations on the theme, with barrows being round, elliptical, flat-topped, having rings of kerbstones or raised earth platforms with a central mound within.

Despite the fact that the majority of barrows in this once extensive cemetery have been destroyed, the visitor to the headland today can still form an idea of the original extent of the barrow group and can still, perhaps, feel a sense of the special significance of the area and appreciate its prominent position in the landscape. Views along the coast are superb, especially east to Trevelgue Head, where barrows on the headland there appear on the skyline.

Around the three surviving barrows, the ground is corrugated with the well preserved remains of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation. The survival of this open area is due to the foresight of the Newquay Town Council, who in the 1920s purchased the land to protect it from development. Dating from this period, even the putting green is of historic interest as a relic of the early holiday trade. It was installed with minimal damage to the medieval cultivation ridges, over which the golf balls still bounce before being holed!